When Mr Smith and I saw space open up in our calendars for a three-day getaway, I started researching tropical islands. Using a formula based on maximum beach time and minimal flight time, I quickly zeroed in on Jamaica as the winner.
One can hop on a four-hour nonstop flight from New York to be on the beach by 11am on Friday, and not depart until 5pm Sunday. I would later learn that this is the same logic that draws many guests to Round Hill Hotel and Villas, and took it as a good sign that I’d chosen a place that attracts like-minded individuals who prioritize relaxation and efficiency.
As soon as we made our way through customs at Montego Bay airport a lovely gentleman from the hotel magically appeared to pull us out of a crowd and into his van for the 30-minute scenic drive to the hotel. Emptied out at the check-in area, we were confronted with a straight-on stunner of an ocean view and the question of whether we’d like a fruit punch or rum punch.
Two rum punches later (obviously), we piled into a golf cart with our bags and zoomed around a winding passageway lined with blooming hedges that recalled the much-discussed flower wall at the #kimye wedding. I’d posit that the motif worked even better in this context, but don’t tell Kanye.
We arrived at our Junior Suite housed in a sprawling villa, situated alongside a semi-private pool that overlooked a hilly expanse leading into the ocean. Our large room had wide-plank shutters to let in the breeze, dark rattan furniture and tropical prints that popped against the otherwise bleach-white color scheme. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that some of the finishing were in need of an update, but the room was perfectly comfortable and also rarely seen by us, because, well, we were here for the beach.
Changed into our swimsuits and slathered in sunscreen, we summoned another golf cart (here’s where I admit I never want to travel by anything other than golf cart ever again), and returned to the main resort area which provides all the excuses for never leaving the grounds once during your stay: beach, pool, bar, restaurant, spa, beautiful surroundings. You know, the basics.
We commandeered chaise lounges by the picture-perfect blue infinity pool that looks out over the oh-so-incredibly-blue ocean and eventually meets the even-bluer sky. It was monochromatic paradise. It was also lunchtime. We ordered pina coladas and fish wraps from one of the nearby attendants without ever having to give up our superior spot.
The staff at Round Hill is ridiculously kind and charming, and while they often operate on what might be referred to as ‘island time’, it’s hard to get too upset about it since you have nowhere else to be other than in a lounge chair soaking up sun and gorgeous vistas. To complain about much of anything would seem both ungrateful and at odds with the laid-back and perennially jovial vibe of the place.
This sensibility was on display later that night at dinner, too, when a circus troupe emerged to show off their jaw-dropping set of talents from fire-breathing and contorting to are-you-sure-this-isn’t-rigged balancing acts—mind-bending acts they managed to somehow make look ...mellow. Like, ‘Hey, no big deal. We do this every day.’ (Which, to be fair, they probably do. But still.) The adults in the crowd were thoroughly entertained and the children, of which there were plenty, appeared to vacillate between sheer joy and sheer terror.
We started out the next morning with a quick run on the resort’s mercifully short jogging path –the punishing hills and the thick humidity make one mile feel like three. We were rewarded upon our return with a jump in our pool, where we cooled off until our first meal of the day was ready.
The dining highlight at Round Hill is, hands down, the breakfast – a multi-course affair served at a time of our choosing on our own private patio. The fresh fruit plate taught me an important life lesson: it’s not that I don’t like papaya, it’s just that I’ve never had Jamaican papaya before. Jamaican papaya, as it turns out, is something I will start a fight with my husband over if there’s only one serving left – the same goes for Jamaican coffee.
It’s all ample fuel for the water sports made so readily available to guests that, even in spite of my commitment to laziness during this vacation, I felt compelled to give in. Paddleboards, kayaks and snorkels are within arms’ reach at a beachside gazebo. Sign a waiver, drag them all of three feet into the ocean and off you go.
If you only do one thing other than swim, sleep, and eat while at Round Hill, make it snorkeling. Even Mr Smith, who generally turns his nose up at the sport, deemed it worthwhile. A short swim in shallow waters will put you right in the midst of shimmering coral reefs and dense populations of colorful fish, bound to make you feel like you’re living in Finding Nemo.
Emboldened by that adventure, we later took out a kayak built for two, which taught Mr. Smith something he never knew about his wife: she’s a terrible paddler. But she does excel at planning the perfect tropical island getaway at the loveliest of resorts. So I suppose that more than makes up for it.