What makes a wow factor villa? Whatever it is, Amanoka Villa in Jamaica has it. Location is key and this one is amazing, set on ‘Millionaires’ Row’, a little peninsula of around 15 luxury villas off Discovery Bay – around a 20 minute drive from Ocho Rios.
Amanoka has acres of space for up to 14 lucky people, spread across two buildings and tropical gardens – ours was a girls’ getaway but it’s equally suitable for families, with flexible bedrooms – and is beautifully decorated and furnished in Indonesian style, with lots of dark, carved wood and stunning local artwork . Yes, the inside is rather gorgeous… but it’s outside where we spent most of our time.
Where do I start? Maybe with the infinity pool…not really built for doing laps but more for posing in and around (see below). There’s also a hot tub, the perfect place for evening chinwags beneath the stars we found.
There are shaded areas with sofas galore – for when we just wanted to relax away from the sun, which for me – being a lily white girl who burns – was much of the time! There’s even a little covered area with hanging seats where you can…hang…and watch the sun set.
The icing on the cake for us, though, was the private beach. We all stared at it in amazement when we first arrived, mouths ajar… for all of about 5 seconds before donning swimsuits and running into the sea, screaming like teenagers (well wouldn’t you?).
The cherry on the top came moments later, when our butler, Everton appeared at the water’s edge. ‘Would you ladies like a drink?’ he asked. ‘Would we??!’. Sipping a rum cocktail whilst bobbing around in the Caribbean sea was definitely a moment to remember – we tried it many times just to ensure we did! ‘Aaaah, I feel like a rock star’ someone shouted. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
To add to the rock star feeling, the villa comes fully staffed. As well as the ever obliging Everton, there is a chef, housekeeping staff… enough people to ensure you don’t have to lift even one of your tiny suntanned fingers. We found them all lovely, obliging (if possibly slightly bemused at this gaggle of women behaving badly), and discreet – there when you wanted them, and not when you didn’t.
The villa comes supplied with all sorts of water toys. There’s snorkelling gear, kayaks, stand up paddleboards. I went kayaking so that I could go and have a snoop at the other villas on the peninsula. I can confirm that they are all rather glamorous.
We hired a yoga teacher, Takula, to come to us one day for a blissful pre-breakfast stretch beneath the trees next to the beach.
The villa also has its own gym and spa building. Therapists came and massaged us from our relaxed state into…a pretty much catatonic one. Fortunately we were a mere totter from our beds.
Such luxury must come at great cost you might think. We travelled with tour operator Butler & Lloyd and actually, the cost is very competitive, especially when you compare it to the price of a stay in a five star hotel. And here you have total privacy and pampering.
There are plenty more luxury villas in Jamaica. We also stayed a few miles away at another Butler & Lloyd property – Villa Windward. This place is rather nice, too, perched up high in the hills of the exclusive Tryall Estate, once a coconut plantation, now a members only club (you have to pay a little extra to become a member during your stay). Just above us was an equally impressive villa belonging to Lennox Lewis and we had a tour of several other dreamy ones while we were there.
Villa Windward has six ensuite bedrooms, some with the option of either kingsize or twin so that, just like Amanoka, it’s flexible for either families or all adult groups. It sleeps 12 (or up to 15 if you want to squeeze in a few more kids on day beds). There’s a beautiful pool, a table tennis table and two acres of gardens with football goals and lawn games.
All guests staying on the estate have free use of the beach and beach club, with its excellent restaurant, kids club (including teen favourite, the Usain Bolt Games Room) and tennis courts. You can have afternoon tea daily at the Great House, too. There’s an extra charge for the golf course – probably worth the fee for the views alone! All guests, however, get use of the golf carts – very convenient for whizzing around the estate. There’s a walking and jogging trail if you are feeling less lazy.
Stay in either of these idylls and you won’t need to move, but that would be a shame, as Jamaica is a big, beautiful, Caribbean island, with diverse scenery – from beaches to jungle and mountains – and there is lots to see and do near both these villas, from swimming with dolphins to zipwiring. Look out for my upcoming post on these….
Both properties can be booked through Butler & Lloyd. They are a small company, headed up by husband and wife Will and Bella, who have three young children themselves and so totally understand what makes for happy family holidays. As well as Jamaica, they also offer ski holidays in Europe.
Prices at Amanoka start from around £830 per person per week, including all staff. Menus are discussed at the start of the week and then you are billed for food and drink purchased. Yoga with Takula Ntama can be booked through Butler & Lloyd.
Prices at Villa Windward start from around £672 per person for seven nights, also fully staffed. All guests over the age of 16 pay Tryall Club membership of US$130 (£88) per week.
For further information visit www.butlerandlloyd.com or call 01252 411749
Direct flights to Kingston, Jamaica from Gatwick with British Airways start from £609 return including all taxes and charges. Visit www.ba.com/jamaica or call 0344 493 0787. You can also fly into Montego Bay if you don’t mind flying via the US.
For a little more comfort at Montego Bay Airport, book yourself into the Club Mobay lounge from £20 per adult, £10 per child. Butler & Lloyd can arrange this.