Some hotels are made by their history. Harking back to a time when travel was revered as a sign of the rich and famous, Jamaica Inn still basks in the glory of its celebrated past. Sixty years on, we look back at what made this hotel a shining star in the Caribbean…
Back during the Golden Age of travel, when a plane ticket would have cost you almost five times as much as today, the Caribbean grew a name for itself as the home of island paradises. From the private haven of Mustique, beloved by Princess Margaret, to Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island, the Caribbean has stood the test of time as the benchmark of exclusive hideaways. Find out how Jamaica Inn led the way for its glamorous guests on one of the world’s most beautiful tropical islands…
A Golden Opportunity
As with most of the world’s most beloved hotels, Jamaica Inn began with a genuine love of a place. Word was spreading of the beauty of the formerly overlooked island of Jamaica, where the golden sands hinted at the equally valuable opportunities for entrepreneurs. In 1948, the Morrow brothers headed to the island to see it for themselves and fell in love with the stunning location. They snapped up a property on Montego Bay, along with a handful of other properties, though it wasn’t until Charles Morrow heard about a site in Ochos Rios that the story of Jamaica Inn began.
Following the Morrow family’s purchase of Jamaica Inn in 1958, they sold all their other properties to give it all their care and attention. Italian architects, the Maffessanti brothers, were called in to give the hotel its Italian flair and build the Blue Cottage – originally created for Charles Morrow to reside in. The guests’ love for it eventually led it to be put into the room inventory.
When it opened, Jamaica Inn was only the second hotel to be operating in Ochos Rios and soon took its place as the jetsetter’s Jamaican choice in the 1950s and 60s. Hollywood royalty and British nobility began to flood in, and the hotel hosted the likes of Errol Flynn, Noel Coward, Vivian Leigh, Marilyn Monroe and her husband, Arthur Miller, Ian Fleming and Sir Winston Churchill, who is commemorated with a plaque at the entrance of the White Suite, where he stayed. Winston Churchill even painted a scene of the hotel, which is now owned by the Sultan of Brunei, and was followed by several international Heads of State and the Jamaican Prime Minister.
With Charles Morrow and his childhood friend, Matthew Archibald, leading the way, Jamaica Inn established itself as one of the Caribbean’s most timeless resorts. In 1981, the next generation of Morrow’s came on board – Peter and Eric – bringing with them a collection of wonderful Jamaican antiques, which can still be seen across the hotel. Whether standing on your verandah sipping a cocktail or strolling along one of the most sought-after private beaches in Jamaica, you will still feel the same homely feel the Marrow brothers envisioned 60 years ago.
The fate of Jamaica Inn was sealed from its early days. Continuing to draw in luxury travellers, the Morrow family are still on the scene, ensuring the hotel’s celebrity standards never faulter. However, there are some other less fortunate residents on the beach of Ochos Rios…
The endangered Hawksbill Sea Turtles are seemingly lucky to spend their days along the golden Jamaican coast, but, sadly, their numbers and habitat is under threat. As part of the Jamaica Inn Foundation, the Oracabessa Bay Turtle Project works to monitor and protect these friendly sea creatures and has resulted in over 100 nests and 16,000 hatchlings recorded yearly. Fortunate guests, who visit during hatching season, may be able to watch the new-born turtles break their way out of their shells and make their way down to the water to see the heart-warming results of the inn’s efforts!
The hotel also cares for the reef, thought to be thousands of years old, that lies at its feet along the seabed. Working with the White River Fish Sanctuary, over 1,000 pieces of coral have been grown and planted, helping to rebuild this natural splendour that so many guests love to snorkel to. In recognition of Jamaica Inn’s commitment to preserving the surrounding environment for the future of the island, it was awarded the JHTA 2018 Environmental Sustainability Award and has been certified by Green Globe for its initiatives.
60 Year Celebrations
Time has been very kind to Jamaica Inn. Sixty years have passed since its story began, but it still stands as one of the island’s top luxury hotels. With a legion of repeat guests, ask any of its loyal followers to recall their early visits and they will delight you with memories and stories of the Marrow family, Teddy, the longstanding bartender, and the Black Labradors, each named Shadow, that became part of the family – 2014 welcomed Shadow IV to the inn!
As it celebrates its 60th year, Jamaica Inn has some treats in store for its guests. Throughout 2018, a prize draw is held every 60 days, with prizes including a diamond pendant, complimentary stays, resort credit, complimentary massages and more. However, you could say everyone who has stayed at this treasured resort in the past 60 years is a winner; with warm welcomes, gardens of fragrant Jasmine filling the air and timeless elegance, there is a prize every time.