Wellness retreats, free yoga classes, and a spa that uses all-natural products from plants grown on an expansive property that made social distancing possible long before it became all the rage. That’s Jamaica Inn, where owner Eric Morrow proudly boasts that they’ve been doing wellness tourism for six decades.
“Jamaica Inn has always been about wellness because just being here makes you feel better,” he says with a chuckle.
He’s only half joking.
Just setting foot on the Ocho Rios property seems to take stress levels down a notch. It may have something to do with that unmistakable feeling of camaraderie that comes from having employees who, on average, have been with the family-owned property for 15 years. Some have been there for close to 45.
Then there’s that calmness that comes from being unplugged. There are no TVs, radios, or alarm clocks in the rooms, and there’s nothing a massage and soak in the saltwater spa tucked away in the side of a cliff overlooking the sea does not seem to cure. A wide range of water sports activities are available, but be prepared to work up a sweat as they’re all manually powered. The result: no noisy engines to interrupt the serenity that’s only punctuated by sighs of contentment.
Over the last few years Jamaica Inn has amped up its focus on wellness. It’s everywhere on the property, from the locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables crafted into exquisite meals to the coffee grounds that make their way into treatments used in the fever grass-scented Ocean Spa.
“For the last five or six years we’ve had a wellness retreat every year. And the last year, it’s really taken off. We have Lina Franklin, who’s an acknowledged yoga teacher, spiritualist, and mental well-being expert and she attracted a lot of people this year. In fact, I think we may even have two retreats,” says Morrow during a recent visit.
He and his team are eager to see the market grow.
“Our in-house spa deals, essentially, only in natural products. We literally take things from our garden and make the face wraps and the papaya scrub. We have a coffee scrub that we literally make right here. So we’re well prepared and open to wellness tourism. We’re small, so we can react quickly to any new trends in the marketplace,” says Morrow.
While conceding that sun, sand, and sea will continue to be the main features that attract tourists to Jamaica and his property, he is convinced there is also a genuine interest in the wellness niche. Fifteen years ago, Jamaica Inn didn’t have a spa, now it’s one of the things most guests ask about when booking their stay.
- 72 percent of employees are vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Yoga is done at the picturesque Peter’s Point, named after late owner Peter Morrow, who died in a plane crash.
- Both a sandwich and the outside bar are named after the late former head bartender, Teddy Tucker, who was with Jamaica Inn for 60 years.
- The croquet lawn was dedicated to Rupert “Rupie” Davis, the late master of the game who was with the property for almost 50 years. His grandson Jevaughn Roache, who stepped into Rupie’s very large shoes three years ago, is making a name for himself with guests that play.
- The repeat guest rate of 40 per cent in early November typically moves up to 60 to 70 per cent in February and March when Europeans guests flock to Jamaica.
- Famous guests over the last 60 years have included Winston Churchill, who did a painting in Suite 21, Marilyn Munroe, Ian Fleming, and many more. Their photos can be seen in the lounge, along with a piano, a cabinet with curios that highlight different points of Jamaican history, and a very well-stocked bar.
I’m glad to see Eric Morrow is still the owner. He and his brother Peter hosted us in 1992 on a wonderful visit to Jamaica Inn from Salisbury School. I have many fond memories of that beautiful place including the fabulous fresh seafood in the open air restaurant, plus breakfast overlooking the Caribbean, with fresh fruit and excellent service at all times.