|by Melissa C. Morris
As a discerning traveler heading to the Caribbean for a mid-winter getaway I had high expectations of my beach resort. I wanted first-rate facilities, service with a smile, activities galore, gourmet food, and, of course, a beautiful white sandy beach.
With its impressive 400-acre property and the perfect blend of old-world meets new, Half Moon in Montego Bay, Jamaica makes it impossible not to slow down and relax into “island time”.
Opened 55 years ago, Half Moon began as a low-key getaway for well-heeled English tourists. Over the years the resort has slowly expanded, but it hasn’t lost its understated charm or its boldface patrons.
|The hotel and its elegant hotel lobby.|
|Some of Half Moon’s more recognizable guests over the years: Former President George H.W. Bush and Sir Richard Branson.|
|The hotel is roughly separated into two sections, old and new. The original section has beach bungalows divided up into cozy rooms. The new section has townhouse-style villas with oversize furniture and large, modern baths.|
|Your choice in rooms: the old or the new.|
|My meals were long, leisurely, and taken ocean-side at the hotel’s Seagrapes restaurant.|
|Clockwise from top left: Ocean-side at the hotel’s Seagrapes restaurant; When in Rome ... my super spicy grilled platter with Jerk Chicken, Jerk Mahi-Mahi, and Jerk Pork; Chef Bobby preparing a bananas flambé dessert, flaming the dessert, and presenting the finished product.|
|And since it is Jamaica, I partook in the customary fruit-garnished rum cocktails.|
|The friendly poolside bartender Donnine, who made me a Mango daiquiri and her own creation, a frozen strawberry cocktail.|
|A must-do for animal lovers, the resort has its own dolphin experience where guests can swim and interact with friendly Flippers.|
|Clockwise from top left: I spent most afternoons soaking up the sun on the hotel’s serene white sandy beach, shaped like a half moon; But there’s also plenty to do for those who prefer action to lounging ... sailing and windsurfing are offered on site; The author and her husband, Chappy Morris, snuggling up to Bruno the dolphin.|
|To cap off the days of sunbathing and rum drinks I checked out the hotel’s just-opened Fern Tree Spa. This spa is flawless – with an Asian inspired décor it’s a Zen-like oasis of calm offering massages, facials, and body treatments.|
|Clockwise from top left: The walkway leading to the spa treatment rooms, the open air yoga studio, the spa’s nail salon, chaise lounges in the sun.|
|Wanting to bring a bit of the island back to New York I went in search of souvenirs at the hotel’s shopping village.|
|I found two local specialties, Jamaican rum and Blue Mountain coffee, perfect for a little dose of island time wherever you are in the world.|
|Half Moon: the perfect Caribbean getaway for sun, sand, and sunsets. www.halfmoon.com.|