When Jack Nicholson signed the guest book at Roaring Pavilion Villa & Spa, a five-acre beachfront estate where the Roaring River meets the Caribbean Sea in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, he captured what the place is all about. He wrote, "Thank you for idyllic island rest."
The private, four-bedroom, plantation-style villa was built in 1996 by John P. Abrahams and Geoffrey H.G. Williams, the two Jamaicans who started LaCURE, a privately held company that represents more than 600 private properties throughout the world. It is just the right spot for seclusion, with luxurious accommodations and service that is attentive yet discreet. At Roaring, you can't help but feel as if you don't have to lift a finger for anything. The household staff consists of a majordomo, chef, butler, housekeepers trained by a professional from the Hotel Ritz in Paris, assistant butler/beach attendant, spa therapist, laundress, gardener, maintenance technician and night watchmen.
The villa accommodates private house parties, so you will never be sharing the space with strangers. It can be rented nightly, and there is usually a one-week minimum stay. Because it is able to accommodate up to eight people, Roaring is often booked for family vacations or groups of friends, but it is not uncommon for the villa to be rented by just one couple.
The most alluring part of the 5,000-square-foot villa is the open-air pavilion, reached via an interior walkway over a reflecting pool. Surrounded by flora and jungle river gardens, the pavilion features dramatic ocean views and steps leading to the lagoon-style infinity pool. The cozy seating area is the best spot in the house to curl up with a book or to enjoy early-evening cocktails.
In the interior, the Barbadian coral stone walls are hung with an eclectic array of art, including 19th-century stone cherubs from the façade of a building in Harlem, Balinese masks and paintings by Jamaican artists. The floors are covered with French terra-cotta tiles and Turkish rugs.
Of the four suites, the Balinese Wing is the largest, featuring South Pacific decor and a bamboo bed. Also the most private of the bedroom suites, it is separated from the main part of the villa by a small courtyard. The room has a large indoor/outdoor bathing pavilion, which includes a double Italian-marble shower and sunken-marble whirlpool bath surrounded by native Jamaican flora.
In the Mahogany Room, louvered doors open onto a small terrace in front of the pool area. It has a British-colonial feel, especially because of the reproduction 18th-century four-post bed. The Peacock Room has 16-foot high ceilings and a hand-painted French wrought-iron bed, and also opens onto the pool area.
The Ceylon Room, while charming, is probably where the last guests to arrive will be made to stay - unless of course they are the ones footing the bill. The reason is that despite having a lovely garden shower, the room does not face the water or the pool. Italian linen bedding and Turkish robes are in all of the suites.
Lounging is the activity of choice for most guests. It's easy to lose sense of time at Roaring, due in part to the fact that you don't have to stick to a schedule. Meals can be served whenever you choose, for example. And depending on the plan you select, spa treatments don't need to be booked in advance, as the spa therapist is available all day and the on-site spa is exclusively your own.
If you find yourself inclined to work out, there's a great gym, set in a glass-enclosed room with floor-to-ceiling windows. The den has a large-screen plasma satellite television and DVD player, as well as an extensive collection of DVDs.
It's not enough to say that the staff at Roaring is at your beck and call; that is true, but they are also one of the more gracious groups of individuals you will come across in your travels. Winston, the majordomo, is as thoughtful as he is knowledgeable about nearby activities, like golf and swimming with dolphins. Roy, the main butler, has a disposition that makes guests feel completely at ease. One guest wrote in the guest book: "There is a poetry about this place -you can hear it in Ray's voice."
The spa is tucked away behind the Balinese Wing, overlooking the Roaring River. The facility features a large, marble steam room with a rain shower and a nine-jet hydro-treatment shower. Treatments can be enjoyed in the air-conditioned marble treatment room, or outside on the teak and paulope (a South American hardwood) terrace.
The spa menu includes fresh fruit facials and an array of massages, wraps and scrubs. One of the most popular treatments is East Meets West, which combines a cinnamon and soy flour scrub, yogurt and honey wrap, and massage with avocado oil. Another favorite is the Coffee Toner, which involves a scrub with clay and Blue Mountain coffee bits, followed by a detoxifying wrap and massage with oils by Ligne St. Barth, the French West Indies maker of high-end body care products. If you book the all-inclusive plan, and most people do, unlimited spa treatments are included in the rate.
Chef Johanna Mitchell blends European and Caribbean cuisine, and the results are delightful. Guests usually dine in the open-air pavilion, where the long, glass table is set at every meal with Spode china, Christofle flatware and Stuart glasses. Breakfast consists of fresh fruit salad, homemade toast and croissants, bacon and eggs, and homemade pancakes. Lunch can be served in the pavilion or by the pool or beach. Cool sea breezes set the mood for Mitchell's three-course dinners. Among the menu's highlights are the sherry carrot soup and the lobster in orange cream sauce.
During the winter (Dec. 15 through April 15), the all-inclusive luxury plan - which has accommodations for up to eight guests, the staff of nine, all meals, unlimited spa services, airport transfers from Montego Bay and all gratuities - is $5,000 per night. A European plan is also available in the winter, for $2,500 per night for a maximum of eight guests. Staff services are included in this rate, but food, spa services, airport transfers and gratuities are billed separately.
During the summer, the all-inclusive luxury plan rate is $4,500 per night for up to eight guests, $4,000 a night for up to four guests or $3,500 per night for a couple. The European rate plan rate in the summer is $2,100 per night for up to eight guests.
For more information, call (800) 387-2726 or visit www.lacurevillas.com.
LaCURE's hand-selected rentals include an 18th-century chateau in Provence; a Medici-family palazzo on a 1,000-acre estate in Tuscany, Italy; a Cote d'Azur villa perched above Monte Carlo; and an exotic Moroccan villa in Marrakech. Among the properties in their premier collection: the French chateau formerly owned and restored by Christian Dior, as well as one formerly owned by Britain's late Princess Margaret.