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Indulge in the Opulence at Round Hill Hotel & Villas Jamaica

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“Unity in Diversity.” This is the national motto of Jamaica, rooted in its multiracial heritage, as depicted on the country’s Coat of Arms. The essence of unity, regardless of differences in race, social status, religion, age, or gender, has been instrumental in making Jamaica a sought-after tourist destination for generations. This vibrant 4,411 square mile Caribbean Island attracts a large number of travelers to its urban centers, coastlines, rivers, and mountainous terrains annually.

An area that captivates sun-seeking globetrotters worldwide is Montego Bay, which happens to be one of my preferred regions. Being the second largest city in Jamaica, Montego Bay has established itself as a premier tourist hub with the largest number of hotel accommodations and a diverse range of recreational activities, attractions, dining options, shopping opportunities, and entertainment venues. Situated on Jamaica’s northern coast, Montego Bay also serves as a key cruise ship port, offering numerous beachfront resorts and exclusive villas.

Amidst the plethora of hotel and villa options, one property that stands out for its luxury is the Round Hill Hotel and Villas. Nestled on a sprawling 110-acre peninsula just west of Montego Bay, this iconic boutique resort boasts a rich historical background and a clientele that includes celebrities. After enjoying a relaxing escape in one of the private villas on-site, I discovered firsthand why renowned personalities from the realms of Hollywood, sports, and politics choose this secluded gem. Round Hill offers guests a serene and lavish island retreat within close proximity to some of the most picturesque beaches in the Caribbean.

In addition to the 36 oceanfront guest rooms designed by Ralph Lauren in the “Pineapple House” section, Round Hill features 26 private villas with two to six bedrooms—many with private pools. Each villa comes with a dedicated team to cater to guests’ needs, including daily breakfast preparation.

My stay at Villa 16, an expansive and exquisitely appointed accommodation, provided a stunning panoramic view of the sea and mountains. This deluxe villa, one of the largest on the property, includes six spacious suites that can comfortably accommodate up to 14 guests.

This exclusive island retreat, surrounded by manicured tropical gardens, epitomizes seamless indoor-outdoor living, whether it’s dining, lounging, or resting. The expansive pool area, adorned with classic blue and white loungers, umbrellas, and a gazebo, sets the perfect backdrop for relaxation. Noteworthy features include two lower level bedrooms with transparent windows overlooking the pool, an open-air game room with a pool table, ping pong table, and a wet bar, a private master suite on the upper floor with a balcony offering breathtaking sunset views, and a separate guesthouse with its own private infinity pool. Luxurious amenities like four-poster beds, marble bathrooms, and carefully curated art enhance the overall sensory experience.

Enthralled by the captivating ambiance and impeccable service at Round Hill, I had the privilege of conversing with Josef Forstmayr—the property’s Managing Director, who has been welcoming guests since 1989. Forstmayr graciously shared insights on what makes Round Hill exceptional and cherished by many visitors.

MK: Let’s start with Round Hill’s target clientele. Who do you primarily cater to and consider your ideal guests?

JF: At Round Hill, we take pride in creating lasting memories for our guests, fostering a sense of home away from home. Our ideal clientele includes couples, groups of friends, and multi-generational families seeking a luxurious retreat. We aim to provide privacy and comfort through our villas and accommodations, offering a welcoming environment akin to a family. Our goal is to establish a tradition where guests return to Round Hill repeatedly, passing down the cherished experience for generations to come.

MK: What distinguishes Round Hill from other luxury resorts and private villa options in the vicinity?

JF: The distinctive heritage and legacy of our villas set us apart from similar offerings on the island. Round Hill has hosted numerous icons and even royalty over the decades, adding a rich historical dimension to our accommodations. Each villa has its own fascinating stories to share, allowing guests to immerse themselves in a unique and storied past during their stay. Moreover, our staff not only delivers exceptional service but also forges genuine connections with our guests. The warm hospitality and personal touch of our team are key reasons why visitors choose Round Hill. Our resort fosters a sense of community and togetherness, shaped by the history established by the founders, our esteemed guests, our dedicated staff, and the breathtaking surroundings. Staying at Round Hill is not just about luxury; it’s an opportunity to engage in a meaningful cultural experience.

MK: As someone who has overseen Round Hill since 1989, what aspect of the property resonates most with you personally?

JF: The heart of Round Hill lies in its people. Every staff member contributes to the resort’s legacy of luxury, joy, and excitement. Our guests arrive with a spirit of openness, eager to embrace the full experience that Round Hill offers, including diverse cultural encounters and attentive care. It’s the unparalleled island hospitality and committed team that define Round Hill as an iconic destination.

Elevating service standards at Round Hill is a deliberate effort. Our team, including long-serving members, receives continuous training to exceed guest expectations. We collaborate with external experts to enhance our staff’s skills and nurture a culture of exceptional service and hospitality. The warmth and dedication of our team have led to a high rate of repeat guests at Round Hill.

Furthermore, we strive to integrate technology seamlessly into the guest experience for added convenience. Recently, we introduced a mobile app to streamline arrivals and enhance on-property engagement. Guests can complete check-in, make requests, and explore on-property events through the app, ensuring a smoother and more personalized stay.

We constantly evolve our amenities to align with guest preferences. Responding to the growing interest in pickleball, we converted two tennis courts into pickleball courts, providing an additional recreational option for our guests.

MK:Are there any fascinating or surprising details about the property?

JF:Yes, there are numerous intriguing facts, but one delightful piece of information that might spark interest is that the renowned movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” featuring Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg, and Regina King, along with other top-tier actors, was actually filmed at Round Hill. Our stunning Villa 11 was featured in part of the film. The iconic American fashion designer, philanthropist, and billionaire Ralph Lauren, who owns multiple villas at our location, not only designed the Cocktail Bar but also curated the decorations in our range of hotel rooms.

Regarding the property’s history, it was once a segment of Lord Monson’s Round Hill Estate, originally a sugarcane plantation that cultivated coconuts and pimento. Entrepreneur John Pringle from Jamaica transformed the area into his ideal boutique resort. Since then, it has evolved into the dream destination for many. While Round Hill will always cherish its historical roots, we are currently revamping our branding materials and website with an exciting new photoshoot. Look out for our brand new website set to launch this year.

MK: With the rise of interest in “sustainable travel,” how does Round Hill demonstrate its commitment to social responsibility?

JF: Round Hill has always prioritized social and environmental responsibility, though these efforts are not always visible to guests. The resort has implemented many eco-friendly practices to minimize its ecological footprint and protect the local environment and wildlife. These initiatives include waste reduction, energy efficiency, promoting farm-to-table dining, and supporting local suppliers. Our culinary team utilizes herbs, vegetables, and fruits grown in our organic garden without harsh pesticides. We also source vegetables like kale and arugula directly from local schools through the One Love Foundation’s School Yard Garden Project. Round Hill collaborates with Seascape Caribbean to preserve coral reefs by training local fishermen as coral gardeners, aiding in rebuilding these vital ecosystems.

Other sustainable practices at our resort involve using photocells and CFLs where suitable, natural ventilation and ceiling fans over air conditioning, timers on pool pumps for energy conservation, and minimizing disposable items like paper napkins and straws. We offer a linen re-use program for guests, and our wastewater treatment plant manages all waste on-site.

MK: How will Round Hill navigate through the challenges presented by the pandemic?

JF: Round Hill was purposefully designed for privacy and seclusion, making our luxurious villas and discrete facilities ideal for guests seeking social and physical distancing, which became crucial during the pandemic. We are well-equipped to accommodate guests wishing to limit interactions and maintain physical distance throughout our vast property. Our team continues to uphold stringent health and safety measures introduced during the pandemic, staying updated on government guidelines for compliance.

To ensure guest safety and confidence, we emphasize privacy and seclusion – inherent qualities of our property, coupled with rigorous health protocols. We offer guests on-site COVID-19 testing with a local physician to meet global travel requirements and have isolation plans ready for any positive cases on-site.

Post-pandemic, we spotlight secluded luxury, leveraging our property’s privacy and excellently trained staff to provide an exclusive, seamless guest experience. Enhancements include unique arrival and departure services; for instance, guests in “Signature” or “Estate” Villas can access Club Mobay’s VIP airport service for expedited airport transitions and lounge privileges.

From my personal experience, Round Hill Hotel and Villas’s blend of classic comfort and modern convenience, coupled with stellar service, creates a home-away-from-home ambiance, perfect for leisure or remote work. A single stay will reveal why this Caribbean paradise has maintained its luxury standard for decades.

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