Right across the street from one of Jamaica’s stunning Seven Mile Beach, Sunset at the Palms Resort in Negril is the perfect relaxing adults-only getaway. The resort is all-inclusive, which I love for a vacation because I don’t have to set a food-and-drink budget. And it is also boutique in size, which is a departure from most Jamaican all-inclusive resorts, and another factor that wins it points in my book.
On lushly landscaped grounds filled with birds and butterflies, Sunset at the Palms offers treehouse-style suites where you’ll feel like you are sleeping in the middle of a jungle in a Zen way. My favorite rooms are the tree-suites in wood bungalows accessed via a small staircase from the ground. These are spacious and comfy and really make you feel like you are up in the trees. Each has its own private terrace to look out at the surrounding mountains, and I enjoyed sitting on mine and enjoying a beer from my stocked mini-fridge and just listening to the chatter of birds in the late afternoons.
And while most of Jamaica’s all-inclusive properties are huge brand resort models, the Sunset at the Palms is very different.
“We have only 85 rooms, so you really get the chance to be in the jungle, to be in private in a public place,” says Operations Manager for Sunset at the Palms, Romeo McIntyre. “We pride ourselves on how lush and natural our property is. It was the first in the world to be green globe certified. So it is relaxation in the jungle (is our motto).”
When it comes time to take advantage of the all-inclusive aspects here, there are two main restaurants to choose from as well as a beach club grill. Palm Grove is an open-air, buffet style restaurant open for all three meals. It serves a mix of Jamaican, Italian, Asian and Mediterranean-influenced spread. It is here, at breakfast, that the resort’s most popular activity happens. That is when guests can have breakfast with the goat family that lives on site: Betty and Royal Brown and their children Bella and Bill.
“A lot of our guests were raving about spending time with the goats, so we offer breakfast with them,” McIntyre says. “You get a full breakfast and the goat gets a full breakfast.”
It is a super cute experience and I loved dining with these characters. We wore birthday hats, ate a fresh breakfast and watched the goats chomp on grass, lounge and play. A birthday cake is part of the experience, which was a great surprise – I never say no to cake even if it’s before lunch.
Beyond goats, there is much to do in the vicinity of the hotel. First, all non-motorized activities are included in the package when staying here so that means if you want to use a kayak or SUP board you can borrow one from the resort’s private beach club, which also hosts a bar and grill restaurant on Seven Mile Beach. There is also an on-site scuba center should you want to take advantage of some of the great diving and snorkeling in the vicinity, but this does cost extra.
If rum is your jam (personally, I love a good rum cocktail in the Caribbean) then take a rum-tasting tour of the Appleton Estate, one of the country’s top distilleries. On the island’s south coast in the pretty Nassau Valley, the guided tour takes you through the history of rum making in Jamaica and visits the distillery where the copper pot stills that are unique to Appleton are as well as the barrel house where the aging process takes place. Tours also include welcome cocktails and a guided tasting afterward. If you want to stay on, they have an onsite restaurant, Black River Lounge, that has indoor and outdoor heating, an authentic jerk pit that churns out Jamaican staples and a bar serving Appleton rum cocktails (of course).
Another iconic Negril experience is a visit to Rick’s Cafe and dive of the cliffs in front of it. The highest cliff for tourists is 35-feet but there is a 25-foot option that felt much less terrifying, and the only one I could muster up the courage for. I did step up to the 35-foot cliff twice, but my legs were noticeably shaking from fear so much I was told to step back. On the second attempt, I turned myself around and walked back the 25-foot jump for one more leap into the ocean. Afterward, I calmed my nerves by watching a fantastic sunset and enjoying some apps and drinks at the bar before heading back to Sunset at the Palms.