Jakes is arguably Jamaica’s first boutique hotel with 84 hippy-chic cottages, rooms, and villas set along secluded Treasure Beach. Rated three-and-a-half pearls, Jakes is a member of the trendy, luxury hotel group Bespoke Hotels, and guests come here specifically to unplug -- there's no phone, internet, or TV in guest rooms. Water’s edge treatments in the Driftwood Spa, on-site classes in painting, mosaics, cooking, and yoga, and a revered restaurant serving top-notch, farm-to-table food shapes Jakes as a one-off gem that’s the furthest thing possible from "hotel chain." While its craggy black-sand beach isn't spectacular, there's a saltwater pool and a bar built on a sandbar that guests reach after a 20-minute boat ride. Travelers seeking less rustic exclusivity and a better swimming beach should compare rates with the Jamaica Inn.
Artful cottages scattered across garden and waterfront grounds designed for a laid-back, unplugged getaway
After the hours' long pot-holed journey to remote Treasure Beach, Jakes swiftly emerges as a rustic, colorful, one-of-a-kind jewel that’s worth the trip. The property is like stepping inside a hippie artist’s utopia straight out of the late '60s, and it can feel like the backdrop to a summer-of-love fashion shoot. "The Harder They Come" posters decorate the cozy lobby -- an ode to the reggae film whose late director, Perry Henzell, was married to the hotel’s original owner, Sally. The family's parrot, Jake, inspired the hotel’s name, and Sally's creative set-designer background is showcased in every artistic detail that gives Jakes its flair.
Colorful, funky cottages sprawl along a rocky coastline, connected by meandering stone and tile mosaic pathways. Many credit Jakes' rugged, black-sand beaches -- and those of Treasure Beach, in general -- for the area remaining such a well-hidden secret, safe from crowds and mega resort chains. A shady canopy of trees and lanterns arches over the romantic outdoor dining area, bar, and enchanting saltwater pool. Beneath the branches, island-flavored tables invite poolside dining as guests take in the sea view. (It’s even more magical at night, by candlelight.) Warm watermelon hues and shell art add tropical kitsch factor. Colorful tile mosaics vaguely resembling sea creatures and octopus tentacles decorate the rendered pool walls and floor.
Driftwood Spa is set in an adobe-style building with a calm, rustic aesthetic; open-air treatment areas are perched right next to the sea. The open-air yoga studio sits above the spa displaying 180-degree sea views. The arid climate here makes the property less green and lush than other parts of the island, but giant aloe vera plants and colorful cactuses give the landscape a striking natural beauty reminiscent of New Mexico or Arizona.
Treasure Beach on Jamaica's South Coast; two hours by car from the nearest airports
Jakes is located on Frenchman’s Bay, in Treasure Beach -- a fishing village on Jamaica's South Coast in an area known mostly for its vast farmland, rocky shores, and unconventionally beautiful black-sand beaches. It's about a two-hour drive from Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, and two-and-a-half hours from Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport. Jakes can arrange rides to and from either airport, but renting a car makes sense. It's real farm country down here. Tiny, colorful cottages and shacks dot the region's bucolic surroundings. A few restaurants and inns are within walking distance (Jack Sprat’s is right next door), but major tourist destinations are at least a 30-minute-drive or a boat ride away. The Pelican Bar -- a pirate’s bar built on stilts and sand in the middle of the sea, hails as one of the area's most singular attractions -- it's reached by boat from the beach. There are also four beaches nearby -- they include Jack Sprat, Frenchman’s, Calabash Bay, and Old Wharf.
Rustic, quirky cottages with no TVs, internet, or modern technology -- but that’s the point.
Jakes' 84 units (31 cottages, 49 rooms, and four villas) are set on sprawling grounds. No two units are the same, and each was custom-designed by the hotel’s original owner. Funky artwork, glass embedded into rendered walls, tile mosaics, and brightly patterned pillows and curtains characterize the decor throughout. Units are deliberately low tech -- with CD players, air- conditioning, ceiling fans, hot water, and lights; but no phones, TVs, or Wi-Fi. There's an eclectic collection of CDs in the lobby that guests can borrow to play on the in-room stereos.
Beds sit high on frames with floaty cotton mosquito nets that billow around them when its breezy. White bedding is accented with colorful pillows and patterned throws at the foot of each bed. Units have balconies, patios with sunbeds, private gardens, or Moroccan-style roof terraces with daybeds made for lounging. Guests seem to prefer sea-view cottages.
Bathrooms vary in layout -- but they all carry that artsy charm with bottle glass, seashell, and tile mosaics. In some cottages, guests can soak in claw-foot bathtubs or shower while watching the water crashing over the rocks outside. Other bathrooms are contained indoors with stand-in showers (but no baths). Bathrooms also come with hairdryers and individual toiletries. Not all units have screens on the windows, so guests with bug sensitivities -- or concerns -- take note. Mosquito coils are provided in each room, although they weren’t needed during our visit. Mini-fridges, coffeemakers, safes, umbrellas, flashlights, and free bottles of water are also included.
A handful of villas (with up to four bedrooms) are scattered around the local area -- they all have full kitchens, and some have private pools; one comes with a private chef, and villa guests can use all Jakes' facilities.
Yoga, farm-fresh food, art classes, free Wi-Fi in the lobby, a great spa, and a saltwater pool
The pool’s saltwater is pumped “fresh” to and from the sea. But it’s a modest size -- the sweeping sea view is its main highlight. Its location between the bar and restaurant means most swimmers are on display (it's hard to sneak a private dip), but guests can also swim in the sea from the hotel dock. The hotel's spa uses products made from local ingredients -- such as coffee, seaweed, coconut, and mango -- with a range of treatments from massages to scrubs, wraps, facials, and mani-pedis.
The Restaurant at Jakes serves a rotating menu of Jamaican dishes with an emphasis on locally farmed produce. Foodies can partake in on-site cooking classes. Dougie’s Bar above the pool serves a full bar, including cocktails. Seafood and pizza restaurant, Jack Sprat’s neighbors Jakes -- where guests can watch weekly outdoor movies, drink Red Stripes, kick back to DJ sets, and put their bill on the room tab.
Painting, mosaic, and shell-decoration classes are offered to guests feeling inspired by the property's artsy designs. Daily yoga classes are on offer, but diehard yogis should consider attending a retreat here to get their full yoga fix. There’s a sports park across the road, where guests can watch local games or sign up for fitness classes. Babysitters are available for parents seeking time-out, and there’s a games room for older kids with TV and DVDs.
Free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby and restaurant, but the signal doesn’t reach rooms.
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