Customs cleared, we stroll out of the airport at Kingston and make a beeline, a waspline even, for a placard with our names on it. The person holding it is our official Jamaica Tourism Board driver, Garfield. We like him immediately. I mean, his name is Garfield: how can you not? After loading our two little carry-ons into his spotless minibus, we set off on a meandering, northeasterly, almost three-hour journey full of hairpin turns, breadfruit-selling Rastafarians, and intrepid goats, towards Geejam in Port Antonio.
The foliage we pass is so green, and the sky so utterly azure, it all looks fake. Photoshopped. On our final approach, we notice that the actual hotel sits in a large, sweeping bird sanctuary. And, dear me, is it ever lush here. Lush like a Brahms symphony, I suggest to Mrs Smith. Lush like the imagination of a child, she counters. It’s that inspiring.
We are immediately met by three Geejam staffers, Ayola, Adrene and Jason, who introduce themselves, welcome us to Jamaica and lead us straight to the handsome and aptly named Bushbar. The bar literally sits in the middle of a forest, and offers phenomenal views of the Caribbean Sea. Views we happily take in, along with an intermittent but raging concert of bird calls and lots of rustling in the leaves.
We finish our drinks and Ayola leads us up, way up, a pretty stone path to her favorite room on the property, which also happens to be our accommodation for the weekend. All of the rooms reference typically Jamaican genres of music and ours is Ska. Located at the very southwest of the property, Ska is actually a two-level wooden cabin that features a Jacuzzi; a furnished terrace; an iPod dock with epic soundsystem; Apple TV and movie library; crisp, modern, all-white interior design and furnishings; fully stocked complimentary minibar and snacks and an absolutely outrageous 180-degree view of the surrounding hills, beaches and sea from practically anywhere you care to sit or lay. We are verily outraged by the view. This is good.
Ayola gives us a Nokia cellphone pre-loaded with the numbers of everyone working at Geejam, our key, and vanishes back down to the bar area. There are quite a few aerobically challenging things to do in and around the property, according to the activities binder on the desk, but our plan is to bask in inertia.
Geejam runs its own private WiFi-enabled stretch of sand called the Mack Beach and we set off there first. The Mack is located at the end of a very long descent down several sets of stairs cutting through some Jurassic-level flora. The rustling around us is intense. So much so I dub it the Rustle Crowe. Mrs Smith rolls her eyes.
White sand and crystal-clear warm water meets us at the bottom of the stairs and Mrs Smith jumps in immediately. The combination of hugely bright, high-definition greenery set against this limpid water really makes everything – including these two Smiths – look so charged with life.
After a couple hours of lying perfectly motionless, kayaking, body surfing and more motionless-ness, we trek back up the stairs and plop down on our immaculately white bed for a bit of rest and channel surfing. The room’s bathroom, while narrow, boasts a massive shower with an insane rain showerhead that must be a foot wide. You don’t so much shower as white-water-raft standing up. The soap, not a named brand, but locally produced, is made out of cerasee – bitter melon – and mint. Mrs Smith notes cheerfully that it would make a delightfully refreshing salad.
We plump for a late supper at the Bushbar, which at 8pm is completely deserted. Our portions of Asian-accented West Indian are a little light, but we’re assured chef would have magicked up some more had we mentioned it. We’re in Ska, but had we stayed in Sanwood, the original villa, you can have your own chef prep some Jamaican home-style delights. Still, we’re fans of getting out there and exploring the local eateries rather than staying put.
Having said that, we start off the next day with breakfast in bed: freshly baked croissants is a nice touch, too. Ready to explore the world outside the property, we want to seek out Frenchman’s Cove, a place widely acknowledged as heartbreaking in its splendour. A quick call to guest services and in two minutes, towels and a driver appear at our front door.
About 10 minutes later, mine and Mrs Smith’s jaws drop. Frenchman’s Cove is jarring in its loveliness. The pristine white sand, the water, the swing above the water, the gentle slurping of the waves, the fluorescent green mountains flanking it. It’s a stunner from top to bottom and a can’t-miss for any visitor within a days’ drive of it. How do places like this even exist?
Pondering this most existentialist question for four leisurely hours on a chaise lounge, drinks in hand, we find no answer. But we resolve to mull it over some more at this very same spot in the near future. With sunset nearing, we placed another quick call and Geejam sends over another driver to fetch us. His name is Bentley. Bentley! I love the fact that Jamaica is full of people named Garfield and Bentley. Had we stayed longer I’m sure we would have run into some Hamiltons and Carlisles.
Sadly, we don’t get to see every part of the sprawling property over a single weekend. I am particularly keen to experience the famous recording studio (where hotel guests can book a professional recording session) but that’s what ‘next times’ are for isn’t it?
Geejam is not the easiest hotel to get to. But verdant panoramas, its foundation of modern accouterments, close proximity to first-class beaches, assiduous attention from the staff and an easy-going vibe, make Geejam worth any trek. Ya man!