We’re Jamming in Jamaica’s luxurious S Hotel

As soon as you land in Jamaica you know you have arrived. The energy of the nation and its vibrant culture wraps its arms around you and invites you to abandon all worries. Discover the intriguing culture and history, its delicious food and dramatic landscapes from the Blue Mountains and jungle-lined rivers to the sugary white sands of Montego Bay. In this jet-setter’s paradise, live out the lyrics of Bob Marley and “don’t worry about a thing, because every little thing’s gonna be all right.”

Stay at S Hotel in Montego Bay, an adults-only all-inclusive hotel where everything is taken care of so guests can immerse themselves in the laid-back vibe of the South Beach glamour in the island’s second city. This property artfully combines discrete urban sophistication and a laid-back resort lifestyle with an underlying rootsy vibe. Founded by Crissa Hotels, the hotel offers guests an authentic Jamaican lifestyle experience, interweaving local island food, music, art and entertainment into every facet of a guest’s stay. It is located on Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, a stone’s throw from the Hip Strip which boasts bustling nightlife, shopping outlets, and sandy beaches. Outside the hotel are classic cars from the starlet era, including one driven by Audrey Hepburn’s sister, and a Land Rover like the one owned by Bob Marley. Make a grand entrance as you walk on a polished wooden floor through the impressive lobby, past Jamaican works of art. It feels like you are gliding down a catwalk. Indeed, this area was once used for high-end fashion shows and makes the perfect first impression.

This 120-room boutique hotel was designed by Alison Antrobus and it makes a stylish statement to visitors. The accommodation is stunning, with a range of rooms from mini king rooms, ocean view deluxe double rooms, ocean view junior suites, sky club spa suites and one sought-after presidential sky suite.

Enjoy sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea, Doctor’s Cave Beach, and Jimmy Cliff Boulevard. The 20-foot-high ceilings of the two-floor presidential sky suite features two bedrooms, an expansive living area with dining table, a fully equipped kitchen for those late-night snacks, and a 55” television. The epitome of luxury is capped off with an award-winning, high-design bathroom with freestanding oversized tubs, separate showers, and indulgent spa amenities.

All rooms and suites are bright with crisp white linens and big windows that let in lots of natural light and views of the Caribbean Sea and the city and include complimentary WiFi, multi-plug USB connection devices, dedicated workspaces and air conditioning so worker bees can stay comfortable.

Business travellers can spend their downtime exploring the Hip Strip, sipping a cocktail at the poolside bar that overlooks the beach or relaxing in the saunas.  Indeed, wellness is a big reason why people come to the hotel and the Irie Baths and Spa is designed to look like a natural cave. Enjoy massages and skin treatments and sample the three underground plunge pools (hot, warm and cold) that provide kinetic energy therapy and send you out feeling totally relaxed.

Jamaican-owned and managed, this place is passionately Jamaican to its core. Take in the Jamaican Heroes Tour with life-size statues made from recycled materials and learn what made these individuals heroes. Quintessentially Jamaican, S Hotel blends the country’s soul and culture for a blend of urban sophistication and a laid-back resort lifestyle.

The S hotel has been voted Travelers Choice Best of the Best for two years running and has consistently been awarded Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. Additionally, S Hotel scooped the 2022 award for Five-Star Award for Best Hotel Bathroom Interior at The International Property Awards (IPAX) held at The Savoy London on February 2, 2023.

Antrobus uses textures and materials inspired by the local basket weaving craft for the bespoke bathtub design. S Hotel commissioned the work of local artist Fiona Godfrey to create a mural on the back wall of the grand double shower niche, depicting Jamaica in a bold and modern combination of black and white and guests can enjoy views of the ocean and hills. There’s a nine-foot long and five-foot wide shower including an alcove with rain head and double showerheads, and a wicker-wrapped oval tub that plays centre stage between the bathroom and guest room.

Furthermore, S Hotel has also been recognised as Tripadvisor Travelers Choice Award 2023 winner along with her sister property Spanish Court. S Hotel also received the Best of the Best recognition when it was included among the top 25 all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean. The hotel has recently shifted to an all-inclusive property.  Both S Hotel Jamaica and her sister hotel Spanish Court have been nominated in the Condé Nast Traveler 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards. There’s still time to vote and contribute to the results, to be revealed in the November 2023 issue of Conde Nast Traveller.

Chris Issa, founder of both S Hotel and Spanish Court said: “I tell people when defining the brand that at one end you have the Ritz, and then the W, and then you have the S. We are trying to be more W than the Ritz. Jamaica is an understated country, and we can give off this vibe. We are a small boutique hotel. With millennials and Gen Z taking up a larger share of the market, they welcome luxury boutique brands like S Hotels over large hotel chains. People have stepped away from the gentlemen’s club. You want to go into the hotel where the receptionist greets you by name. First impressions count. At the S you get personalised service right down to getting the WhatsApp numbers of the managers and you have a go-to person as a friend, rather than a butler. You can walk out of the hotel onto the strip and engage with Jamaicans. We are unique in being able to offer these experiences. “

Dining at the S Hotel

Flavour is big on the menu at S Hotel, with tastes of the island and international cuisine available at the four restaurants. There’s also a poolside grill, an all-day café, and two bars featuring artisan Jamaican and international cuisine. As an all-inclusive hotel, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages are included for all guests. Using the freshest local ingredients, the restaurants offer an unforgettable dining experience.

Roots Rock celebrates Jamaica’s music heritage and symbols that represent the beloved island. The large mural of Jamaica’s Roots Rock Reggae artists gives the impression that you are dining at an outdoor street dance. It is open for dinner and daily reservations are required. Sample the rich Jamaican flavours with dishes such as coconut-crusted shrimp, jerk chicken spring rolls and jerk barbecue sliders. You can also enjoy local favourites such as curried chicken, coconut bean stew, jerk chicken and pork, and cornmeal pudding for dessert.

The Jamrock Restaurant is heaven to meat lovers, offering grilled New York sirloin, ribeye, salmon, shrimp and pork chops. Enjoy your food beside the ocean and poolside and sink your teeth into the famous S burger.

Rocksteady is open for lunch and dinner, serving regional and international seafood, and a wide variety of innovative, locally-inspired dishes. Guests can unwind in a cozy atmosphere surrounded by prints of famed Jamaican artist Michael Thompson.

Marketplace is the hotel’s casual eatery and serves a fresh local buffet and a la carte options highlighting Caribbean and international specialties. Indoor and al fresco seating overlooks the main pool and there’s a pool bar where you can enjoy the all-day menu of snacks and sandwiches. The Lobby is an intimate central meeting spot, serving a selection of wines, beers and champagne.

Entertainment is also covered when you head up to the Sky Deck bar, exclusive to Sky Club suite guests, offering light bites and libations overlooking the Instagram-worthy Sky Deck pool.

Guests can also reserve a section on Doctor’s Cave Beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas and have the S Hotel concierge bring beverages to guests on the beach, while meals are served at the hotel’s restaurants.

This hotel is ideal for couples looking for a romantic break on their honeymoon before the kids arrive. This member of the Luxury Hotels of the World is a place where romance can blossom, with its idyllic beachfront location.

British Airways fly to Montego Bay’s Sangster Airport. The transfer time from the airport is just five minutes so guests needn’t waste precious beach time in transit.

Donna Richardson
Travel Journalist