Trea­sure Beach, Ja­maica: life be­yond Jakes

Tehran Times - - HERITAGE & TOURISM -

Trea­sure Beach first ap­peared on the Ja­maican tourist map al­most 25 years ago, with the open­ing of a ho­tel called Jakes. The then ob­scure fish­ing vil­lage on the is­land’s south-east coast quickly ac­quired a fol­low­ing among trav­el­ers drawn to ad­jec­tives like “bare­foot”, “boho”, and “off-the-beaten-track”, and the rare blend of bou­tique chic and au­then­tic Ja­maica found at the ho­tel.

There was lit­tle else for tourists in the vil­lage, though, save a hand­ful of very ba­sic guest­houses. The peren­nial worry with all hid­den gems is that they will be­come vic­tims of their own suc­cess, ru­ined by pop­u­lar­ity, and since then Trea­sure Beach has grown al­most be­yond recog­ni­tion – but not, hap­pily, into a new Ne­gril, Ja­maica’s brash party beach re­sort. The vil­lage does now have a cash­point, a lux­ury spa and re­li­able wifi, but there any sim­i­lar­i­ties with Ne­gril end.

It has be­come, in­stead, a des­ti­na­tion for sports tourists, thanks to the de­vel­op­ment of a sports park open to ev­ery­one from lo­cal kids to in­ter­na­tional sports stars. Venus and Ser­ena Wil­liams have taught ten­nis on the courts, Len­nox Lewis made a guest ap­pear­ance at the open-air box­ing camp in July, and in Au­gust 50 bas­ket­ball coaches flew in from the U.S. for a week to coach young­sters from the com­mu­nity.

The Trea­sure Beach Pi­rates cricket team have hosted the West­min­ster Lords and Com­mons Cricket Club, and five-a-side foot­ball on Satur­day nights draws a big crowd, not least due to the com­men­ta­tor who dou­bles as a DJ, blast­ing out dance­hall be­tween games, and the sur­real tal­ent con­test staged on the pitch after­wards. Typ­i­cal con­tes­tants in­clude a man who can bal­ance a bi­cy­cle on his head and a mid­dle-aged belly rolling ex­pert.

Over­look­ing the park are the Lash­ings Vil­las (four and five bed­room vil­las from $3,500 a week), newly built by the owner of the Lash­ings All Star in­ter­na­tional cricket team. The two lux­ury vil­las bring an up­scale New York de­signer loft aes­thetic to the dusty sea­side vil­lage – all min­i­mal­ist con­crete and steel, vintage in­dus­trial fit­tings and stripped back wood – with pri­vate chefs who rat­tle guests around the neigh­bor­hood in an open-top jeep and take them par­ty­ing, as well as serve lob­ster and cock­tails on the pool­side ter­races over­look­ing the pavil­ion. Any­one pre­vi­ously put off by the tra­di­tion­ally rather hit and miss rus­tic lux­ury of the vil­lage’s other vil­las can rest as­sured of find­ing Sky Sports on flatscreen TVs at Lash­ings.

But you do not need deep pock­ets to en­joy Trea­sure Beach. Its lat­est ad­di­tion opened for busi­ness last month, of­fer­ing one-bed­room cot­tages for un­der £100 a night. 77 West (rooms from $115 U.S. a night) looks like a lit­tle bit of Mykonos has landed in the Caribbean. The sim­ple, white­washed clifftop cot­tages are perched be­side a tim­ber sun deck and pool, above a pri­vate beach ac­cessed by a flight of steps lead­ing down to azure wa­ters framed by reef. Ab­surdly ro­man­tic, 77 West lies just out­side the vil­lage and of­fers cou­ples pri­vacy along with the most breath­tak­ingly panoramic views on the south coast.

Back in the heart of the vil­lage is French­man’s Reef, a bar and restau­rant right on the beach which opened a few years ago and of­fers a wide range of Ja­maican and in­ter­na­tional dishes for as lit­tle as U.S. $5, and smooth­ies and cock­tails along with the ubiq­ui­tous rum and Red Stripe.

Like Jakes ho­tel’s sis­ter restau­rant Jack Sprat, it of­fers a de­liv­ery ser­vice for those too lazy to get out of their ham­mocks and down to the beach. Jack Sprat’s oven-fired piz­zas draw din­ers from across the south of Ja­maica, and on Thurs­day nights a chilled crowd gather for the weekly open-air movie night.

The court­yard of Jakes Ho­tel in Ja­maica

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iran

© PressReader. All rights reserved.