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This 32-room villa property has air-conditioned rooms, kitchen facilities, pool and fitness center. Its right in the heart of Kingston. The standard rooms offer a double bed, as well as a living area with TV, phone, kitchenette.
THE COURTLEIGH HOTEL AND SUITES 85 Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston
876-929-9000, fax 876-926-7744
This 10-story hotel is a new addition in the business district, although the Courtleigh name has been familiar to Kingston visitors for many years. It was originally located a short distance from its present site. The 118-room property is aimed at business travelers, but most people will find its rooms comfortable. The family-owned hotel includes a restaurant, nightclub and also a fitness center.
CROWNE PLAZA KINGSTON 211 Constant Spring Road, New Kingston
876-925-7676, fax 876-925-5757; reservations 800-618-6534
This fairly new 105-room business hotel is perched in the hills just north of New Kingston in the neighborhood of Constant Spring. Many rooms have views of the city and guests have all the amenities common to Crowne Plazas, such as a fitness center, satellite TV and tennis courts. The hotel includes a business floor; these rooms offer a fax machine, modem and other amenities not found in the standard rooms. Facilities include a pool, squash, massage, sauna and concierge service. Guests can enjoy indoor or outdoor dining at Isabellas for a great city view.
HILTON NEW KINGSTON 77 Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston
876-926-5430, fax 876-7439; reservations 800-HILTONS
This hotel was formerly the Wyndham New Kingston and is located in the hotel section of New Kingston near Le Meridien and The Courtleigh. The 303-room property recently underwent a $15 million renovation. It now offers guests many facilities, including a health club, sauna, Olympic-size pool, tennis courts and more. This hotel is especially convenient for travelers using American Airlines; theres a service desk in the lobby so you can make changes, seating requests, etc
THE JAMAICA PEGASUS HOTEL 81 Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston
876-926-3690, fax 876-929-5855
Designed with ultimate comfort in mind the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel is located 15 miles
from the Norman Manley International Airport. A revered landmark in capital city
Kingston, the Pegasus as it is affectionately called, rises seventeen (17)
stories high in the heart of the business and financial district, New Kingston. It is
within walking distance from many international offices and embassies as well as
historical sites, cultural centers, shopping areas and restaurants.
The hotel boasts 300 rooms including 16 one bedroom suites and 3 luxurious 2 bedroom
suites. All rooms have private balconies and are equipped with high speed internet,
safe, hairdryers and coffee making facilities. There are 13 function rooms including
4 boardrooms ideal for meetings and conferences. Wireless internet access is
available in public areas. 3 restaurants, 2 bars, 2 tennis courts, swimming pool, guest
only fitness centre, jogging trail, 24 hr. room service, day spa, beauty salon
and duty free jewellery store.
MAYFAIR HOTEL 4 West Kings House
876-926-1610, fax 876-926-7741
Adjoining the Governor Generals residence, this 32-room hotel has air-conditioned rooms, restaurant and pool, and is near the business district. The hotel offers one-bedroom units as well as one- and two-bedroom suites; all suites have a TV, living room/dining room, and a kitchenette (maid service also included).
MORGANS HARBOUR Port Royal
876-967-8030, fax 876-967-8073; reservations 800-528-9000
This 45-room property is home to a marina (you can boat out to Lime Cay from here), restaurant, bar and large garden. Rooms are fairly basic but many do include a mini-refrigerator. This hotel offers snorkeling, harbor cruises, fishing, a dive shop and free airport shuttle.
STRAWBERRY HILL New Castle Road, Irishtown
876-944-8400 or 800-OUTPOST, fax 876-944-8408
This sprawling mountainside resort is perched 3,100 feet above sea level, looking down on Kingston. The atmosphere here is pure nature. Jamaicas doctor bird, a hummingbird with an unbelievable plume tail, flits through the trees. A morning mist hangs over the mahogany trees. The sound of life in small neighboring villages drifts up from the surrounding valleys.
The resort is one of the Island Outpost properties owned by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, record label of the late Bob Marley (he recuperated at this site after he was shot in 1976), as well as Melissa Manchester and Robert Palmer. Like other Island Outposts, it is exclusive and unique. There are 12 wooden villas, each filled with antique Jamaican decor. The villas look out on the Blue Mountains from bedrooms, living rooms and expansive porches. We spent part of our time just lazing about in an oversized hammock on our porch. Every room has electric mattress pads to warm up the bed on chilly evenings, mosquito-netted, four-poster mahogany beds, stocked kitchenettes, coffee makers, televisions, VCRs and even CD players with a full array of CDs (okay, some of them are Island Record productions, but they fit the tone of the place). Videos are available for loan.
In January 1998, Strawberry Hill opened a new Aveda Spa, with massage, hydrotherapy, facials and other body treatments. We enjoyed pedicures, manicures and a splendid facial. And, at the end of the day, guests can order spa cuisine or Jamaican dishes with a light touch in the resort restaurant.
The property has 40 acres of lawns and forests. The grounds were once part of one of the first coffee plantations in the Blue Mountains. Today over 350 species still grace these grounds, including some species first planted centuries ago such as Juniperus, Virginiana, Eucalyptus Nicolae, Cedrela Odoratissimia and Mangifera Indica (blackie mangoe).
TERRA NOVA 17 Waterloo Road, New Kingston
876-926-9334, fax 876-929-4933
Terra Nova is New Kingston at its very best: formal, traditional and oh-so Jamaican. Unlike the modern highrises also found in this business district, Terra Nova carries on the legacy of Old Jamaica with classic mahogany furniture, fine art and a wonderful atmosphere that tells you youre not staying in another chain hotel.
There are 35 guest rooms at this intimate property, which is a favorite with those who have been coming to Kingston for many years.
Kingston Jamaica Parks & Sanctuaries
BOON HALL OASIS 4 River Road
Hours: daily 7-5; Free
This four-acre park offers picnicking, a plant nursery, waterfall and views of the hills of St. Andrews. There's a brunch offered here for JA $760.
GUARDSMAN'S SERENITY FISHING & WILDLIFE SANCTUARY 40 minutes east of Kingston via A1/A2 west
A popular new stop with Kingston school groups, this sanctuary was established by the executive chairman of the Guardsman Group, a security company in Kingston. A visit to the site starts with a tractor ride through mango orchards and vegetable plots, then a visit to the animal collection, with exotic birds and a petting zoo. Food lovers will be interested in the sanctuary for another reason: local dishes are served for lunch and dinner in the restaurant. Curried goat, barbecue or jerked chicken, oxtail and other local dishes are available for US $8-10. You can even fish for red tilapia and have the restaurant clean and bag your catch for $4 per pound.
BOB MARLEY MUSEUM 56 Hope Road, Kingston
Hours: 9 am-5 pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday;
12:30-5 pm, Wednesday and Saturday
Marley fans shouldn't miss this shrine to the legendary reggae superstar, housed in what was his home. A visit here includes a tour and a movie about Marley's life. The museum is a must for Marley fans, although others may want to skip it.
INSTITUTE OF JAMAICA 12 East Street
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9-4:30
This natural history museum and library covers the island's rich history from its days as a home for the Arawak Indians to modern times.
DEVON HOUSE 26 Hope Road, New Kingston
Hours: 9 am-5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday
This restored great house is in the heart of New Kingston, near the Terra Nova Hotel. The home was built in 1889 for L10,000 by a Venezuelan gold millionaire, whose family lived here until the 1920s.
Today, the historic structure is filled with antiques and antique reproductions from the 1880s (done by Things Jamaican). Tours, given every 15 minutes, include a look at the master bedroom, the sewing room, with an illegal gambling room upstairs (the stairs are hidden in the ceiling), a sunny ballroom with relief ceiling, original chandelier and an English piano.
NATIONAL ART GALLERY Roy West Building, Kingston Mall
Hours: 11-4:30 weekdays only
This downtown art gallery contains some real treasures. The best-known artists represented here are Edna Manley (an accomplished artist and wife of the former prime minister, Norman Manley) and Kapo, whose religious images have received a lot of attention.
ROCKFORD MINERAL BATHS A-1 east of Kingston
Hours: daily, 6:30 am-6 pm
These natural springs emerged after the earthquake of 1907. Today you can soak in a whirlpool tub fed by the mineral waters; call ahead to book the baths.
JAMAICA CONVENTION CENTRE Duke Street
Admission for tours
This is well worth a peek, even if you just drive by. The center is one of the Caribbean's leading facilities for meetings that require simultaneous translation services due to its role as headquarters for the International Seabed Authority, an arm of the United Nations. It is capable of working with six languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. Built to UN specifications, the building is located on the waterfront in downtown Kingston. Around-the-clock security protects the center, which includes a print shop, press area to accommodate up to 40 journalists, clinic, business services office, delegate lounges and a cafeteria with seating for up to 250 attendees.
WORLD'S END LTD Gordon Town
Hours: 10 am-4 pm, Monday-Friday; 12-4 pm, Saturday and Saturday
876-977-5941 or 929-3564
Even non rum-drinkers will find this tour worthwhile, thanks to the beautiful location. World's End produces Sangster's Old Jamaican Liqueurs high in the Blue Mountains. Factory tours are followed by a taste of the potent and well-respected rum. Worlds End is also recommended for birders, who may spot Jamaica's national bird, the doctor bird.
BLUE MOUNTAINS-JOHN CROW NATIONAL PARK B1 to Newcastle is the main route.
No telephone, free
At 300 square miles (193,260 acres), the park is filled with sites to challenge adventure travelers of all types - hikers, birders, mountain bikers. The country's second largest national park has three distinct areas: the Blue Mountains Peak (the highest mountain in Jamaica); the Clydesdale Forest Reserve (a wilderness filled with mahogany, eucalyptus, and blue mahoe); and the easily accessible Hollywell Recreational Park (see below).
One of the best ways to experience the park (which in many areas is so heavily forested you need a machete to hack your way through) is with a guide. Weve listed several qualified guides in the Guided Tours section above.
HOLLYWELL RECREATIONAL PARK Two miles from Newcastle
Hours: 9:30-6:30 daily
Tucked high in the mountains, this park is a great place to escape from the heat. With great views, Hollywell offers picnicking and hiking.
CAYMANAS GOLF CLUB 876-922-3386
Caymanas was Jamaica's first major championship 18-hole course, dating from the 1950s. It was designed by Howard Watson and is six miles west of Kingston. A round of golf costs US $53; rentals are available. Facilities include a snack bar, carts and a pro shop.
CONSTANT SPRING 876-924-1610
This downtown course dates back to 1920, when it was designed by Scotsman Stanley Thompson, mentor of Robert Trent Jones. The short course is a par 70, and a round costs US $35; rentals are available. There's a clubhouse, restaurant, bar and pro shop.
Tennis players can hone their skills at several courts, including:
Le Meridien Pegasus(876-926-3690)
Hilton New Kingston(876-926-5430).
Kingston's beaches are busy. There have been some crime problems on them in recent years, so we recommend caution. The Hellshire area, southwest of the city, has some of the best-known area beaches, including Gunboat Beach and Fort Clarence.
Lime Cay, south of the peninsula where Port Royal and the airport are located, can be reached by a boat from Morgan's Harbor and is very popular with picnickers. This small island is a favorite weekend getaway with Kingstonians. The cay has a nice beach and a fun atmosphere, with weekend cookouts and lots of local fun. Swimming is good. Boat rides out here can be arranged through Morgan's Harbour Hotel (876-967-8075).
With Kingston's many cultural offerings, its dive opportunities are sometimes overlooked. The area has a good variety of sites, though, ranging from wreck dives to reefs. The Buccaneer Scuba Club, 876- 967-8061, is the local operator. Sites include:
* Cayman Trader. This wreck is good for all levels of divers. At 33-55 feet, the merchant trade vessel is covered in sea life and nurse sharks are often seen.
* The Edge. At over 100 feet, this is an advanced dive. It offers excellent visibility and great photo opportunities.
* Texas Wreck. This US naval ship was sunk here in 1944. Today it's an advanced dive (over 100 feet), with lots of black coral.
* Wreck Reef. At 50-80 feet, this site has both natural and man-made attractions. Look for old cannons near the site.
CASTLETON BOTANICAL GARDENS A3 north of Kingston
Hours: 9-5 daily
These longtime gardens feature many native species, as well as some that have been introduced. For the price of a tip, you can enjoy a guided tour of the extensive collection; you'll also see plenty of birdlife here.
HOPE BOTANICAL GARDENS AND ZOO Hope Road, next to the University of the West Indies Mona campus
This 50-acre getaway is the largest botanical garden in the West Indies. The small zoo features Caribbean wildlife. The site was originally the Hope Estate, founded by Richard Hope, an English army officer, in the mid-1600s. Featured exhibits include orchid gardens, cacti gardens and Palm Avenue, which displays sago palms. It's a pleasant spot to spend an hour or so.
ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS AT HOPE Hope Road
Hours: weekdays 10-5, weekends 10-5:30
These gardens were donated by the Hope family. Spanning 50 acres, the gardens are filled with tropical plants and trees, most labeled.
Kingston is a good home base from which to enjoy day trips, short drives out of the city that can give you a peek at the rich history of this island.
PORT ROYAL Follow Norman Manley Highway to the airport and continue as the road becomes Main Road, or take a ferry from downtown Kingston at Princess Street (call the Kingston JTB office for times).
Once a wild hedonistic pirates' den (Hedonism II and III weren't the first to fill those shoes on this island!), Port Antonio's rollicking fun came to a halt on June 7, 1692, when a violent earthquake shook the region and pushed Port Royal into the sea. The city became the only sunken city in the Western hemisphere and has been nicknamed the "Pompeii of the Caribbean."
The top attraction is Fort Charles (876-967-8059, open daily 9-5, admission charged). Built in 1662, this is the oldest building in Port Royal and is from the days of British occupation. The remaining portion of the fort includes a maritime museum and Giddy House, tilted by an earthquake in 1907.
SPANISH TOWN 14 miles west of Kingston on A1
This was once Santiago de la Vega, the islands capital city under Spanish rule. Those early explorers came to Jamaica in search of precious metals and finally gave up the island to the English in 1655. Spanish Town is an excellent day trip for history buffs. Attractions include Jamaican People's Museum of Crafts and Technology(home of many vintage farm implements, musical instruments and pottery) and St. James Cathedral(St. Jago de la Vega), the oldest Anglican cathedral beyond England's borders. Built in 1523, the historic church is worth a peek and is open daily; admission is free. The cathedral is filled with memorials to former Jamaican governors; outside the chapel lie many historic graves dating back to Jamaica's earliest days.
FLAT BRIDGE Located outside Kingston on the Rio Cobre
This bridge was built in the late 1700s by slaves. Youll see that there's no rail on the bridge - every time a rail has been added, the river rises and washes it out. Legend has it that two slaves were killed and their bodies added to the mortar; their ghosts are said to haunt the site.
ABINA PARK South Camp Road
This park is the island's test cricket center. For game times, call the Jamaica Cricket Association, 876-967-0322, or the Kingston Jamaica Tourist Board office, 876-929-9200.
CAYMANAS PARK RACE TRACK Gregory Park
The track is a favorite with locals and visitors who get their kicks from exciting horse races. Races are held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and on public holidays, 12:30 to 6 pm.
Because it sees fewer tourists than the resort areas, Kingston shopping is primarily aimed at residents. One area that tourists will find of interest, however, is Devon House. Surrounding the great house are numerous boutiques offering everything from Jamaican artwork to jerk sauces. Things Jamaican is one of the best stores if you're looking to take back a taste of Jamaica. This shop sells sauces, cookbooks and even pewterware that reproduces patterns recovered by archaeologists at Port Royal. A second Things Jamaican shop is at Norman Manley International Airport.
Pick up some last-minute coffee supplies at The Coffee Mill, which also sells teas and sauces. Two Hampers and a Mule is another excellent stop and offers local artwork, cookbooks and more.
Kingston nightlife is legendary, starting with Friday Night Jam. This open-air street party begins when folks leave work on Friday night and go out into the street to buy the evening meal, to sit with friends and to take it easy. Ask for suggestions from your hotel staff before you head out on the town for the evening.
There are several well-known discos in Kingston. Top choices include The Mirage (106 Hope Road, Sovereign Centre, 876-978-8557) and Peppers (31 Upper Waterloo Road, 876-925-2219).