Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall, Jamaica

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Many hotel chains struggle with integrating their standards of service with an authentic feel of the destination. For luxury properties, showcasing local culture can be even more problematic, as accommodations and amenities must meet even higher expectations. But one chain seems, more often than not, to find that perfect balance: Ritz-Carlton Hotels & Resorts.

From stateside properties like its hotel in downtown Atlanta with a Southern-style verandah restaurant, to international outposts like its Grand Cayman resort, connecting guests to the beach through a hallway lined with colorful Caribbean artwork, Ritz-Carlton properties often manage to seamlessly blend in with their destination, all while maintaining that classic luxury ambiance. And that might be more true at The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall than at any of its other properties. From dining to activities to the very look of the resort’s architecture, Jamaica’s Ritz-Carlton achieves a sense of place you won’t find at the island’s newer, “big box”-style resorts.

upscale authenticity The Ritz’s Jamaica experience begins from the moment your clients’ transfer takes them through the resort gates, winding past expansive lawns up to a building built in the style of the island’s historic plantation houses. Enter the lobby, and you’ll find a public space more accurately described as a sitting parlor, decorated in upscale but old-fashioned colonial style: dark woods, intricate rugs and patterned furnishings, and accents like fresh flowers and centerpieces that change with the seasons. (At the holidays, clients will find a huge, ornately decorated Christmas tree at the center of the lobby, with an equally impressive gingerbread house, constructed by the hotel’s pastry chefs, surrounded by bowls of candy. Guests passing through are, of course, encouraged to indulge their sweet tooth.)

Caribbean flair follows guests to their rooms and suites, as well, as they make their way down hallways painted in bright blues, yellows and pinks. Inside, traditional Jamaican touches like plaid fabrics blend with upscale elements like 400 thread count linens and flat-screen TVs, plus balconies looking out to the ocean or across the resort’s expansive lawn or picturesque tropical gardens. When they upgrade to a suite, clients have the benefit of nearly twice the space of the resort’s standard rooms—960 sq. ft. compared to a standard 480 sq. ft.—as well as amenities like iPod docking stations and larger TVs. Some suites face the ocean head-on, putting clients practically on top of the shoreline and offering the best views of anywhere on property.

Like most Ritz-Carlton properties, the Rose Hall resort gives guests the opportunity to stay in club level rooms that grant access to perks like the club lounge, a peaceful room stocked with a rotating menu of breakfast, light snacks, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and drinks throughout the day, with outdoor seating on a raised balcony overlooking the lawn and the ocean beyond. Computer and Internet access in the club lounge is free as well, making the upgrade an ideal solution for travelers on business or vacationers who just can’t leave the office behind.

a taste of jamaica At any Ritz-Carlton property, clients expect certain things, especially when it comes to the food. An upscale spot for steak and seafood is a necessity, one filled at the Jamaica property by The White Witch restaurant. Overlooking the resort’s famed White Witchgolf course, clients must transfer to the restaurant on a shuttle that constantly loops between the golf course and the mainland of the hotel. Once they’ve arrived, they’ll enjoy their meals on an open-air balcony, offering classy and serene views for lunch, and low-lit, romantic ambiance, increased by live musicians strolling through the tables, at dinner.

Of course, this is primarily a beach resort, so the Ritz also offers plenty of more casual dining options. Horizon is the breakfast spot for most travelers, offering a buffet assortment of fruit, pastries and stations for omelettes as well as a la carte menu options. Sunbathers camped out on the resort’s pool deck will most likely visit Mangos for lunch, offering Caribbean-style dishes like ceviche and snapper salad, alongside more American dishes like pasta and hamburgers. (During the daylight hours, the Mangos bar provides drink delivery to guests spending the day at the pool as well.)