Port Antonio: Jamaica’s enchanting, untouched, island hideaway.
Our Hotel is nestled in 7½ acres of lush, tropical gardens 200 metres above sea level just outside Port Antonio on Jamaica’s north-eastern coast, the island’s lush, untouched and enchanting island hideaway that provides a perfect combination of relaxation, romance, discovery, adventure and eco-tourism.
The timeless tranquil charm of Jamaica’s Port Antonio or ‘Porty’ has made it a favourite holiday spot for celebs since Errol Flynn first washed up off the nearby Navy Island in a storm. He said “Port Antonio is more beautiful than any woman I’ve ever known”. In the 1960s Port Antonio attracted the jet-set and today stars including Shakira, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford and Katy Perry still flock to Port Antonio, Jamaica’s secret Eden.
The Hotel's hilltop location affords stunning panoramic vistas of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, whilst overlooking the quaint town of Port Antonio and her beautiful natural double harbour, described as being ‘the most exquisite port on earth’, spectacular by day and romantic by night, and the Caribbean Sea. The hotel’s elevated location ensures that you can enjoy gentle cooling breezes, a welcome alternative to resort air-conditioning and the peace and quiet that being a few kilometres outside of the main town brings. This casual, eco-chic hideaway, is just a 5-minute drive away from Jamaica’s most beautiful and romantic beach, Frenchman’s Cove and we offer you a complimentary shuttle there and back.
Best Place for Bird Watching in Port Antonio
The Hotel's bio-diverse gardens attract 22 of Jamaica’s 28 endemic birds along with many other West Indian and North American species and is listed in ‘Birds of the West Indies’ as one of the best places for bird-watching in Jamaica.
Beaches, Waterfalls & Coffee Plantations in Jamaica's North East
The hotel offers a free 5-minute shuttle down to the close-by white sandy beaches of Frenchman’s Cove, one of Jamaica’s prettiest coves, where you can you can enjoy the luxury of secluded dips in both a freshwater stream and the Caribbean Sea.
A short drive away is the rain-forest clad ‘Reich Falls’ a series of limestone cascades with jade pools deep enough for diving, one of Jamaica’s most beautiful waterfalls. Hiking is recommended in the nearby Blue Mountains through coffee plantations and friendly rural hamlets all offering the experience & tastes of real Jamaica.\
A Holiday to Escape and Unwind
Relaxation is the order of the day and the untouched beauty that surrounds you provides the perfect background to escape and unwind. Come to this natural paradise for an unique vacation experience and revel in Jamaica’s captivating and diverse landscapes and scenery and discover the island’s exceptional biodiversity. There are a range of activities for you to enjoy: bird watching, hiking, cycling, snorkelling, diving or you can just laze in your hammock and watch emerald green hummingbirds dart from flower to flower.
Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola (the island containing the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic; the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands lies some 215 kilometres (134 mi) to the north-west.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawak and Taino peoples, the island came under Spanish rule following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1494. Many of the indigenous people were either killed or died of diseases to which they had no immunity, and the Spanish thus forcibly transplanted large numbers of African slaves to Jamaica as labourers. The island remained a possession of Spain until 1655, when England (later Great Britain conquered it, renaming it Jamaica. Under British colonial rule Jamaica became a leading sugar exporter, with a plantation economy dependent on the African slaves and later their descendants. The British fully emancipated all slaves in 1838, and many freedmen chose to have subsistence farms rather than to work on plantations. Beginning in the 1840s, the British began utilising Chinese and Indian indentured labour to work on plantations. The island achieved independence from the United Kingdom on 6 August 1962.
With 2.9 million people, Jamaica is the third-most populous Anglophone country in the Americas (after the United States and Canada), and the fourth-most populous country in the Caribbean. Kingston is the country's capital and largest city. The majority of Jamaicans are of African ancestry, with significant European, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, and mixed-race minorities. Due to a high rate of emigration for work since the 1960s, there is a large Jamaican diaspora, particularly in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The country has a global influence that belies its small size; it was the birthplace of the Rastafari religion, reggae music (and associated genres such as dub, ska and dancehall), and it is internationally prominent in sports, most notably cricket, sprinting and athletics.
Jamaica is an upper-middle income country with an economy heavily dependent on tourism; it has an average of 4.3 million tourists a year. Politically it is a Commonwealth realm, with Elizabeth II as its queen. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, an office held by Patrick Allen since 2009. Andrew Holness has served as Prime Minister of Jamaica since March 2016. Jamaica is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the bicameral Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of an appointed Senate and a directly elected House of Representatives.
A brief history of Jamaica
Around 800 CE, the Arawak arrived, eventually settling throughout the island. Living in villages ruled by tribal chiefs called the caciques, they sustained themselves on fishing and the cultivation of maize and cassava. At the height of their civilization, their population is estimated to have numbered as much as 60,000.
The Arawak brought from South America a system of raising yuca known as "conuco." To add nutrients to the soil, the Arawak burned local bushes and trees and heaped the ash into large mounds, into which they then planted yuca cuttings. Most Arawak lived in large circular buildings (bohios), constructed with wooden poles, woven straw, and palm leaves. The Arawak spoke an Arawakan language and did not have writing. Some of the words used by them, such as barbacoa ("barbecue"), hamaca ("hammock"), kanoa ("canoe"), tabaco ("tobacco"), yuca, batata ("sweet potato"), and juracan ("hurricane"), have been incorporated into Spanish and English.
The Spanish colonial period (1494–1655)
Christopher Columbus is believed to be the first European to reach Jamaica. He landed on the island on 5 May 1494, during his second voyage to the Americas. Columbus returned to Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the Americas. He had been sailing around the Caribbean nearly a year when a storm beached his ships in St.Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on 25 June 1503. For a year Columbus and his men remained stranded on the island, finally departing in June 1504.
The Spanish crown granted the island to the Columbus family, but for decades it was something of a backwater, valued chiefly as a supply base for food and animal hides. In 1509 Juan de Esquivel founded the first permanent European settlement, the town of Sevilla la Nueva (New Seville), on the north coast. A decade later, Friar Bartolome de las Casas wrote to Spanish authorities about Esquivel's conduct during the Higüey massacre of 1503.
In 1534 the capital was moved to Villa de la Vega (later Santiago de la Vega, now called Spanish Town. This settlement served as the capital of both Spanish and English Jamaica, from its founding in 1534 until 1872, after which the capital was moved to Kingston.
The Spanish enslaved many of the Arawak; some escaped, but most died from European diseases and overwork. The Spaniards also introduced the first African slaves. By the early 17th century, when virtually no Taino remained in the region, the population of the island was about 3,000, including a small number of African slaves. Disappointed in the lack of gold on the isle, the Spanish mainly used Jamaica as a military base to supply colonising efforts in the mainland Americas.
The Spanish colonists did not bring women in the first expeditions and took Taíno women for their common-law wives, resulting in mestizo children. Sexual violence against the Taíno women by the Spanish was also common.
Although the Taino referred to the island as "Xaymaca", the Spanish gradually changed the name to "Jamaica". In the so-called Admiral's map of 1507 the island was labeled as "Jamaiqua" and in Peter Martyr's work "Decades" of 1511, he referred to it as both "Jamaica" and "Jamica".
British rule (1655–1962)
In late 1654, English leader Oliver Cromwell launched the Western Design armada against Spain's colonies in the Caribbean. In April 1655, General Robert Venables led the armada in an attack on Spain's fort at Santo Domingo, Hispaniola. After the Spanish repulsed this poorly-executed attack, the English force then sailed for Jamaica, the only Spanish West Indies island that did not have new defensive works. In May 1655, around 7,000 English soldiers landed near Jamaica's Spanish Town capital and soon overwhelmed the small number of Spanish troops (at the time, Jamaica's entire population only numbered around 2,500). Spain never recaptured Jamaica, losing the Battle of Ocho Rios in 1657 and the Battle of Rio Nuevo in 1658. In 1660, the turning point was when some Spanish runaway slaves, who became Jamaican Maroons, switched sides from the Spanish to the English. For England, Jamaica was to be the 'dagger pointed at the heart of the Spanish Empire,' although in fact it was a possession of little economic value then. England gained formal possession of Jamaica from Spain in 1670 through the Treaty of Madrid. Removing the pressing need for constant defense against Spanish attack, this change served as an incentive to planting.
Cromwell increased the island's European population by sending indentured servants and prisoners to Jamaica. Due to the wars in Ireland at this time two-thirds of this 17th-century European population was Irish. But tropical diseases kept the number of Europeans under 10,000 until about 1740. Although the African slave population in the 1670s and 1680s never exceeded 10,000, by the end of the 17th century imports of slaves increased the black population to at least five times the number of whites. Thereafter, Jamaica's African population did not increase significantly in number until well into the 18th century, in part because ships coming from the west coast of Africa preferred to unload at the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. At the beginning of the 18th century, the number of slaves in Jamaica did not exceed 45,000, but by 1800 it had increased to over 300,000.
Following the 1655 conquest, Spain repeatedly attempted to recapture Jamaica. In response, in 1657, Governor Edward D'Oyley invited the Brethren of the Coast to come to Port Royal and make it their home port. The Brethren was made up of a group of pirates who were descendants of cattle-hunting boucaniers (later Anglicised to buccaneers), who had turned to piracy after being robbed by the Spanish (and subsequently thrown out of Hispaniola). These pirates concentrated their attacks on Spanish shipping, whose interests were considered the major threat to the town. These pirates later became legal English privateers who were given letters of marque by Jamaica's governor. Around the same time that pirates were invited to Port Royal, England launched a series of attacks against Spanish shipping vessels and coastal towns. By sending the newly appointed privateers after Spanish ships and settlements, England had successfully set up a system of defense for Port Royal. Jamaica became a haven of privateers, buccaneers, and occasionally outright pirates: Christopher Myngs, Edward Mansvelt, and most famously, Henry Morgan.
England gained formal possession of Jamaica from Spain in 1670 through the Treaty of Madrid. Removing the pressing need for constant defense against Spanish attack, this change served as an incentive to planting. This settlement also improved the supply of slaves and resulted in more protection, including military support, for the planters against foreign competition. As a result, the sugar monoculture and slave-worked plantation society spread across Jamaica throughout the 18th century, decreasing Jamaica's dependence on privateers for protection and funds.
However, the English colonial authorities continued to have difficulties suppressing the Spanish Maroons, who made their homes in the mountainous interior, and mounted periodic raids on estates and towns, such as Spanish Town. The Karmahaly Maroons continued to stay in the forested mountains, and periodically fought the English.
Another blow to Jamaica's partnership with privateers was the violent earthquake which destroyed much of Port Royal on 7 June 1692. Two-thirds of the town sank into the sea immediately after the main shock. After the earthquake, the town was partially rebuilt but the colonial government was relocated to Spanish Town, which had been the capital under Spanish rule. Port Royal was further devastated by a fire in 1703 and a hurricane in 1722. Most of the sea trade moved to Kingston. By the late 18th century, Port Royal was largely abandoned.
Until it was disestablished in 1870, the Church of England in Jamaica was the established church. It represented the white English community. It received funding from the colonial government, and was given responsibility for providing religious instruction to the slaves. It was challenged by Methodist missionaries from England, and the Methodists in turn were denounced as troublemakers. The Church of England in Jamaica established the Jamaica Home and Foreign Missionary Society in 1861; its mission stations multiplied, with financial help from religious organizations in London. The Society sent its own missionaries to West Africa. Baptist missions grew rapidly, thanks to missionaries from England and the United States, and became the largest denomination by 1900. Baptist missionaries denounced the apprentice system as a form of slavery. In the 1870s and 1880s the Methodists opened a high school and a theological college. Other Protestant groups included the Moravians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Seventh-day Adventist, Church of God, and others. There were several thousand Roman Catholics. The population was largely Christian by 1900, and most families were linked with the church or a Sunday School. Traditional pagan practices persisted in unorganised fashion, such as witchcraft.
Kingston, the new capital
In 1872, the government passed an act to transfer government offices from Spanish Town to Kingston. Kingston had been founded as a refuge for survivors of the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal. The town did not begin to grow until after the further destruction of Port Royal by fire in 1703. Surveyor John Goffe drew up a plan for the town based on a grid bounded by North, East, West and Harbour Streets. By 1716 it had become the largest town and the center of trade for Jamaica. The government sold land to people with the regulation that they purchase no more than the amount of the land that they owned in Port Royal, and only land on the sea front. Gradually wealthy merchants began to move their residences from above their businesses to the farm lands north on the plains of Liguanea. In 1755 the governor, Sir Charles Knowles, had decided to transfer the government offices from Spanish Town to Kingston. It was thought by some to be an unsuitable location for the Assembly in proximity to the moral distractions of Kingston, and the next governor rescinded the Act. However, by 1780 the population of Kingston was 11,000, and the merchants began lobbying for the administrative capital to be transferred from Spanish Town, which was by then eclipsed by the commercial activity in Kingston. The 1907 Kingston earthquake destroyed much of the city. Considered by many writers of that time one of the world's deadliest earthquakes, it resulted in the death of over eight hundred Jamaicans and destroyed the homes of over ten thousand more.