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Round Hill Hotel and Villas: Seaside Splendour in Jamaica

Melanie Reffes

2020-04-28T12:51:56-04:00 en-US Apr 28, 2020

West of Montego Bay, Round Hill Hotel & Villas is the island's timeless treasure

Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Sitting pretty on a 100-acre peninsula west of Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport, Round Hill Hotel and Villas is a Caribbean classic. With rooms, suites and villas styled by designer Ralph Lauren, the resort was once a sugarcane plantation that later grew coconuts and allspice.  The fertile soil on the bluffs once hosted pineapple groves which today are prominent in the resort’s iconic logo.

Overlooking one of the prettiest bays on the island, there’s no mistaking the Jamaican influence with steeply pitched shingle roofs, cloud white walls and louvered windows that open to awe-inspiring vistas. Elegantly understated, the beloved resort is irie, mon with staff so friendly you’ll make friends for life. “Please rest assured that we are in close contact with the Government of Jamaica and remain committed to the measures being taken to maintain the safety of our citizens and visitors, “said Josef Forstmayr, managing director, “as soon as it is safe to do so, we look forward to reopening Round Hill and welcoming you back home.”

Round Hill Hotel & Villas is postcard-perfect west of Montego Bay

Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

A storied past

Opened in 1953, the resort has long been the vacation haven for discerning guests like John F. Kennedy who penned the famous "ask not what you can do for your country" inauguration address in Villa 25 and honeymooned with Jackie in the 4-bedroom Villa 10. Spy novel writer Ian Fleming, Sir Noel Coward and Errol Flynn preferred Villa 3, super stars Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney and other ‘you know their names ‘have checked in, Alfred Hitchcock, Bing Crosby were resort regulars and Villa 11 was the setting for the film "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," with Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs and Whoopi Goldberg. Today, you’ll find a gallery of photos from ‘those were the days’ in the Cocktail Bar.

With legions of loyal fans around the world and guests who call the hotel a second home, it’s no surprise staff is like family. “More than just a job, our staff takes great pride in building lasting relationships ensuring our guests feel as if Round Hill is their home away from home," said Josef Forstmayr, managing director, “our Beach Bar bartender has been with us for 30 years and our ambassador, Kingsley Blake, for 45 years."

Cocktail Bar is a salute to the hotel's history: Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Eat local

Rise and shine with a cuppa Joe made from the coffee beans that grow in the Blue Mountains. Move on up to a villa-catered breakfast or a sumptuous spread in the open-air dining room at The Grill where you’ll find a variety of specialities like ackee with salted fish and local fruits that do a smoothie proud.

Breakfast is delightful at the Villas: Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Under the watchful eye of James Beard award-winning Executive Chef Martin Maginley, farm-to-table signatures at The Grill and Seaside Terrace are to-dine-for while the wine list perfectly complements the changing menus. On the rooftop above the bar and terrace, The Grill invites with sweeping seaside panoramas and the only indoor wood-fired grill on island. “The Chef’s philosophy of ‘Light Clean Caribbean Cuisine’ really shines in dishes like his lemongrass Caribbean lobster bisque and grilled tuna with Caribbean sofrito, crispy local pear and cilantro lime crema, “said Josef Forstmayr, managing director. Save room for a shareable pineapple tarte topped with the Chef’s haute and spicy scotch bonnet ice cream.

At the Seaside Terrace, Jamaica Night every Friday is a buffet par excellence with jerk pork, grilled snapper, braised oxtail, rice and peas, steamed callaloo (green vegetable that looks a lot like spinach) and desserts flambéed with Appleton Rum. Linger awhile for the live entertainment and floor show.  Monday nights is a funky Beach Barbecue, manager’s receptions are on Wednesday and Caribbean curry specialities are served with a smile on Wednesdays.

Salute the sunset with an icy cold Red Stripe beer or a fruity rum punch in the Cocktail Bar, Seaside Terrace, by the pool or on the beach. With a nod to the island’s British heritage, Afternoon Tea in the lounge invites with a fine array of finger food, desserts and gourmet teas.

Jerk Chicken is the real deal and the island's iconic speciality: Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Family fun

For small fries to grown-ups, there’s plenty to do from tee time at the Tryall Golf Club, watersports, play on 5 tennis courts, taking five at the pool, lounging on the beach, glass-bottom boat rides, kayaking, paddle boats, garden tours and shuttles to Montego Bay. For kids and teens, Pineapple Kids Club for juniors ages 3 to 6 years old and the 7-Up Club for the older set is complementary with a roster of fun stuff  like donkey rides, painting classes and reggae lessons.

For adventurous families, ask the concierge to arrange river rafting on the Martha Brae or zip lining high above the hills. The Pineapple Kids Club and 7-Up Club are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pineapple Kids Club is gratis for guests: Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

And to all a good night

Thirty-six Ralph Lauren-designed oceanfront guestrooms and 27 luxe villas havens are vacation perfection for families, couples and singles. In the historic Pineapple House, guest rooms are steps from the infinity pool and sandy white beach. Upper level ocean view rooms are regal with towering cathedral ceilings while lower level patio rooms are an oasis of privacy with secluded balconies ideal for sipping a morning coffee. Many rooms offer connecting doors for families with children. Upping the ante, guestrooms are designed with four-poster mahogany beds, white stone floors and furniture from Ralph Lauren's Home Collection.“The rooms exude an extra touch of luxury with deep soaking tubs and breathtaking views of Round Hill's bay and underwater reefs, making them ideally suited to soak in every ounce of our Jamaican splendor, "&#226?? said Josef Forstmayr, managing director.

Worth the splurge, four categories among 27 villas range from 2-bedrooms to the top-of-the-line Villa 20 with 6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms and 2 pools. Sweetening the pot, amenities go the distance like private pools and villa housekeepers delighted to prepare breakfast each morning.  For those who plan ahead, grocery items can be ordered in advance. 

Ocean View King Rooms are designed by Ralph Lauren

Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Ultimate chill out

Housed in a building that was once an 18th-century plantation house, Spa at Round Hill is a haven for rejuvenation on 10 acres of beachfront lawn. From yoga classes in the open-air pavilion, outdoor Vichy showers  under a canopy of tropical foliage or rubs , scrubs and wraps by the water’s edge,  the spa is one of the finest in the Caribbean and the only spa that uses the renowned Elemis line of products. With 7 treatment rooms, couple’s suite, ocean view fitness center and seaside gazebo, you’ll remember why you booked a vacation in the first place.  Fragrant signatures include the Coconut Rub and Milk Ritual Wrap and the Pineapple Body Buff that relaxes with frangipani oil, fresh crushed pineapple pulp and Island Flower body balm.

Spa Gazebo on the grand lawn by the water's edge Photo Credit: Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Happily ever after

Hosting just one wedding per weekend, saying I Do at the resort is a breeze. Whether couples choose a casual ceremony or a formal dinner reception, onsite planners work their magic with white-glove precision. From an intimate affair to packages like ‘The Forever Together’ that includes a gratis bottle of bubbly and special rates when 10 or more rooms are booked and the’ Sunset Wedding’ that comes with a bridal bouquet and boutonniere for the groom, special occasions are custom-curated from soup-to-nuts with  meticulously organized menus, décor, photography, videography and entertainment.  Tailored for each couple , vows can be exchanged on the grand lawn, beach, and garden or in a spacious hillside villa that salutes the sea .   “ Our personalized service and attention to detail makes for a special experience for couples as our dedicated staff exceeds expectations to ensure a perfect celebration” , said Josef Forstmayr, managing director, “and of course, where else to enjoy private romantic moments with your loved one than in one of our gorgeous villas?”  Celebrations big and small from engagement and anniversary parties to honeymoons and vow renewal ceremonies can also be arranged.

Weddings and special occasion celebrations are magical on the Hanover Terrace:

Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

Meet and greet

Ideal for meetings and corporate retreats, locales vary from a guest room , villa suite or private villa with perks for group bookings top-shelf like a bottle of Appleton VX rum in each room. When the laptops are turned off, there’s plenty of unwinding to do in the spa, at one of the restaurants or at a relaxing perch in the bar.


Virtual travel options are the real deal like recipe tips from the Chef, working out at home, kid-friendly activities and interactive Instagram stories.  To check out the  “Sending Love from Round Hill” virtual travel series, click on the resort’s social media platforms: Instagram @roundhillresort , Facebook  Round Hill Hotel & Villas  and  for the tips and tales from the resort.

Liz's Rum Punch is the signature cocktail: Photo Credit Round Hill Hotel & Villas

For a taste of the island, Liz’s Rum Punch is the resort’s signature cocktail named for its creator Liz Pringle, the fashion model wife of John Pringle who opened Round Hill in 1953.


0.75 ounce Appleton Rum

0.75 ounce Coruba Dark Rum

0.5 ounce lime juice

0.25 ounce clear sugar syrup

1 ounce pineapple juice

0.25 ounce diced Scotch Bonnet Pepper


Combine rum in a shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, clear syrup, pineapple juice and scotch bonnet pepper. Shake well. Strain and pour over ice in a high ball glass. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and stir with a wooden straw. For make-at-home alternatives, try jalapenos instead of scotch bonnets and any white and dark rum that you have handy.

 Written By: Melanie Reffes

About the Author

Melanie Reffes, Travel Journalist
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