Prince Valley Guest House Review

May 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Blue Mountains, Jamaica Hotels

Prince Valley Guest House in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica

Location: Prince Valley Guest House is a little over an hour above Kingston in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. While it’s in a remote location, bars and places to eat are well within walking distance (2-5 minutes) and the city is only a cheap $2 route taxi fare (each way) away. It’s sort of the best of both worlds, you get the feeling that you are in the middle of nowhere but everything you need is at your fingertips.

Prince Valley Guest House Jamaica

Prince Valley Guest House Jamaica

Booking a room at Prince Valley: It was a pretty easy process, I contacted them through either Facebook or their website and got a response the same day.

Checking in at Prince Valley: Casual! It was more like staying with family, here’s your room, here’s your key and the check in process is complete. After experiencing less than pleasant check in experiences at other places (Rooms on the Beach Ochi) I love casual check in’s that doesn’t take days to complete.

Prince Valley Guest House Jamaica 2

Room quality: The rooms are very nice in my opinion, while not fancy they are not in need of any repairs or updates. When I say “not fancy”, I don’t mean the are plain and boring! Jackie and Bobby have painted and decorated the rooms in a fashion that would let a blind person know that the hands of an artist has touched the place. Currently, the two rooms have 3 beds, a couch, a hammock and a shared bathroom. Note- the rooms are attached (you have to walk through the room with the small bed to get into the larger bedroom).

Prince Valley Guest House Jamaica 4

Staff: While everyone of my reviews rates the “staff”, the term really doesn’t apply to my experiences at Prince Valley. Bobby, one of the owners is quick to size up how much you want to interact with him. If you want to be left alone you will hardly see him, if you want someone to chat with or someone to show you around he will be there. I guess this sort of defines a “guest house” and not a motel, hotel or Holiday Inn.

Prince Valley Guest House Jamaica 5

Food: Prince Valley wants their guests to explore the village of Settlement (2-5 minute walk up the road) and RedLight (20 minute walk) for their food and bar needs so they don’t formally offer either on site. In a way it’s more of a meet the culture type of lodging experience than a never leave the compound experience like at the jails….I mean all inclusive resorts. With that said, Bobbie cooked a great dinner that he shared with me!

Prince Valley Guest House Jamaica 6

Security: I felt 100% safe both at the guest house and in the village. When I left the guesthouse to explore I didn’t feel the need to hide my stuff or even lock my door.

Prince valley 11101

Overall Rating of the Prince Valley Guest House: I was really impressed with the interior art decorations and the flower gardens that are all over the place. Everything was in perfect working order and I would stay there even if the price was double it’s current rate (way too cheap in my opinion). The people in the community around the guest house are really warm and welcoming, everyone will exchange greetings with you, chat if they have the time and they don’t treat you like a tourist in a resort town (that’s a good thing if you have never been to the island)!

Contact Information for Prince Valley Guest House:
Website: Prince Valley Guest house

Facebook Page: Prince Valley Guest House on Facebook

Robert Williams –Owner
Jamaican Cell Phone:
1-876-892-2365

Email:
jaqdes@netstep.net

Prince Valley Guest House Jamaica 7

Strawberry Hill Jamaica

February 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Blue Mountains

Strawberry Hill Jamaica Viewed as the sun sets.

On a recent vacation up in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica my hosts (Rafjam), brought us down the road to Strawberry Hill to witness the sun setting over Kingston Jamaica.  Sitting high above the sea close to heaven, we saw mostly clouds that at some points made it hard to see 50 yards away.  It’s hard to explain but the experience was like being in heaven with clouds all around….I guess once you experience it you will know what I mean.  One second you can see everything and a second later you can’t see anything.  The hot Jamaican weather was also calmed by the nice refreshing cool air in the clouds.

Strawberry Hill Jamaica

Strawberry Hill Jamaica

Back up a little bit… Strawberry Hill is a place for people with a large vacation budget compared to my meager budget.  When Raf and Susan mentioned going there, all I could see was dollar signs that I could not afford.  But….. Strawberry Hill allows visitors in to enjoy the scenery as long as you support the bar (no pressure).  So we loaded up the SUV and traveled 15 minutes or so down the mountain and had an evening that will live in my heart as long as I live.  Sitting on the side of their pool that seems like it’s on the top of world enjoying a nice cold one is more than priceless!

Strawberry Hill Blue Mountains of Jamaica

Strawberry Hill Blue Mountains of Jamaica

If you are looking for a really nice resort in the Blue Mountains with great views, check out Strawberry Hill!  <—Click to view their homepage.   Note, not a paid review or a comped review, just a way to share a blessed place that was shared with me.  With that said, if Strawberry Hill wants to offer me a full room and board package for small money I would go in a heartbeat!   If you have the vacation funds to stay at Strawberry Hill, enjoy your stay!  If you are on a tighter budget but what to stop in at Strawberry Hill for a relaxing drink or two, check out Rafjam where I stay when I venture into the Blue Mountains of Jamaica (click on Rafjam to view the link to their homepage).

After sunset at Strawberry Hills in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica

After sunset at Strawberry Hills in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica

A short slide show of Strawberry hill:

A Jamaican woman walking on the water at Strawberry Hill:

Old Tavern Coffee Estate Review

January 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Blue Mountains

Old Tavern Coffee Estate Review in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica


As a coffee lover, a tour of a coffee farm in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica is like going to the coffee hall of fame.  Most coffee lovers and experts will agree that some of the best coffee in the world comes form the Blue Mountain area of Jamaica.  Without going into a bunch of details, the location and blah blah blah make the Blue Mountain coffee one of the most sought after coffee beans in the world!

Bena sorting Blue Mountain Coffee

On my trip last September to the Blue Mountains I was able to take a tour with Rafjam to visit Twyman’s Coffee Plantation.  At first I thought it would be a “see the beans, taste the coffee now buy our stuff and leave so we can make way for the next tour”.  BUT, the tour was more of a laid back experience.  We started the tour meeting Mrs Twyman and after a brief tour of her mountain edge roasting house we were able to spend some time in her roasting/bean sorting room.  There we were able to watch how coffee beans are sorted and we were able to taste all of their different coffee bean roasting styles.  For the first time in my life I actually ate fresh coffee beans!   A little while later we were seated on their porch overlooking the Blue Mountains to enjoy some pastries and a fresh brewed pot of coffee.  While enjoying our Blue Mountain coffee, we were able to read through her library of coffee books and ask a million questions that were all answered like a flash from a coffee expert.

blue mountain coffee beans

Outside in their garden area we saw how coffee beans are grown (saving a trip to see their plantation) and after tasting the coffee and seeing the actual plants the whole cycle came alive for us.  The whole tour was almost intoxicating with the fresh coffee, the Jamaican coffee history and the laid back vibe of sitting on the edge of a mountain just enjoying life!  There was NEVER any pressure to buy coffee but we bought 3 pounds because honestly it was one of the best coffee beans that we ever tasted.  Rafjam was nice enough to lend us a bean grinder so we could enjoy the beans while we stayed at their resort a few miles down the road.

A short slide show of the Blue Mountain Coffee Tour:

Links:

Old Tavern Coffee Estate <—The coffee tour place.

Blue Mountain Cottage and Nature and Tours <—The tour guides and where we stayed

Blue Mountain Lodging Review <—Our review of Rafjam


Blue Mountain Lodging Review

January 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Jamaica Blue Mountains

Review of Rafjam Bed and Breakfast in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica

Location: High up in the mountains above  Kingston there is a valley where the waterfalls from the mountain start a stream and where these all come together you will find RafJam.  By car it is about 30-60 minutes outside of Kingston, so close to a big city but at the same time so secluded!

Booking a room at Rafjam’s:  Rafjam’s is very prompt answering phones calls, responding to e-mails and responding if you send them a message on Facebook.  I booked by sending them an e-mail with a few questions which they answered and I think by the second e-mail my vacation was booked.

RafJam Blue Mountain Lodging

RafJam Blue Mountain Lodging

Checking in at Rafjam:   Checking in was very relaxing and much more pleasant than the typical hotel check in process.  We were given a tour of the property and our rooms before we started the quick check in process.

Room quality:  The rooms and living areas were decorated with a personal touch which gave us a feeling like we were staying with family and not at a hotel with stock art and furniture that was ordered by the tractor trailer load.  All of the furniture and kitchen appliances were in perfect working order and everything was very clean.

Staff:  Staff is sort of the wrong word to describe the husband wife team who own and run Rafjam.  Imagine staying with family that magically leave you alone when you need private time but are right there when you need something, that is what you will find at Rafjam.

Food: While Rafjam’s offers 3 meals a day we stocked up on food to save a little money.  Looking back at all of the start up costs of buying food and then the stuff that we had to buy to cook and spice the food it would of been cheaper to eat their meals.  Susan and Rafael donated some fresh veggies from their gardens which really gave our meals a local flavor.  A mile up the road in Redlight there are some vendors as well if you want to take a hike a get a snack or meal.  On my visit to Rafjam I plan to eat their meals and give up on cooking my own food.

Rajam Blue Mountain Lodging and Tours as viewed from above the valley.

Rajam Blue Mountain Lodging and Tours as viewed from above the valley.

Security:  100% secure!  Since Rafjam is located pretty much in the middle of nowhere and since it’s 3 times removed from being on a main road nobody goes there or in the area unless they live there.  I felt very comfortable leaving my camera gear, money, laptop and luggage in my room without locking the door.  Having stayed at places where I have to find dozens of hiding places for my gear, I really enjoyed the sense of security.

Overall Rating of  Rafjam Bed and Breakfast:  After spending a few weeks in tourist areas (Ochi Rios and Negril) over the past year I found Rafjam and the Blue Mountains to be a very nice place to take in the Jamaican food, sights and culture without some of the headaches that come with staying in the tourist areas.  From the relaxing waterfalls to Susan’s beautiful gardens to the perfect accommodations to Rafael’s tours, I can not paint a more relaxing vacation in my mind.  On a 1-10 and while I hate to give out 10′s they get a 10!

A Slide Show of The Grounds at Rafjam’s Bed and Breakfast:

Rafjam Tours:

While we were staying at Rafjam’s, Raf took us on a tour of a coffee plantation but since then we have learned that they also offer tours for their guests all over the Blue Mountains and Jamaica!  Check out the following link to their Facebook page and look at some of the exciting places they tour.



Contact Information for Rafjam: Website:  Rafjam Blue Mountain Lodging Facebook: Rafjam Bed Other Contact:
Telephone / Fax: (+1.876)944.8009
Susan de Campos: (+1.876)426.3667
Rafael de Campos: (+1.876)885.1653
Email: rafjam.productions@gmail.com