Tensing Pen, Negril JamaicaOn the western tip of Negril, Jamaica, beyond the all-inclusive resorts that hug the much-touted seven-mile beach (in reality, it's just a few sandcastles longer than four miles), the limestone cliffs rise from the sea in spectacular fashion.



There's not much beach here, but the waters are great for snorkeling and diving. And Rick's Cafe is the place to watch the cliff jumpers and sunsets.

Just beyond that popular tourist spot is the cottage property named Tensing Pen, which I visited for the first time in October.

"Why has it taken me so long to find this place, and how soon can I get back here?" I asked when I saw the cut-stone cottages and the wooden bridges suspended 20 feet over the crashing sea below.

Tensing and Sugar, the two large and lovable Rhodesian ridgeback dogs who call Tensing Pen their home, formed the welcome committee on the open-air dining terrace. They wagged a greeting, which pretty much sealed the deal for me.

The property opened in 1975 on five cliffside acres above the Caribbean Sea. Not much has changed since then.

Renovations by the resort owners, two couples from the U.S. and the U.K., include complimentary WiFi in the lobby and construction of the Cove Bridge, a second suspension bridge, according to Joseph Smith, general manager.

A face-lift completed in September included a new roof and a crown of thatch on the main lodge; new furnishings in the dining area and bar; and the conversion of the South House into a two-bedroom, two-story unit.

The 17 cottages offering 22 guestrooms have plaited thatched roofs that trap the heat above and cool the interiors, aided by ceiling fans. Only the over-the-water cottage, usually reserved for honeymooners, has air conditioning.

The rooms have no phones or TVs, "which is just the way our guests like it," Smith said.

Cove Bridge at Tensing Pen, Negril, JamaicaTensing Pen's one restaurant serves three meals a day, but most guests venture out for lunch or dinner a few times during their stay. "We encourage them to go local by dining and shopping in the area," Smith said.

Amenities include an infinity pool; huts for yoga and massage; scuba equipment; and hammocks in gazebos. Off-site dive and hiking excursions can be arranged.

Repeat guests account for 80% of winter business and 50% of summer bookings, with the U.S. being the largest market.

Children are welcome, but because of the rocky terrain, the cliffs and winding footpaths, younger kids are not encouraged.

The wedding market is a big one for Tensing Pen. Smith said that wedding parties "often book the whole resort."

Smith would like to see more bookings from agents, who are paid 10% commission. "We get very little right now because many of our repeat clients book directly with us, but I want the agent business and am reaching out to that market through social media, incentives and our website," he said.

Winter rates start at $184 per room, per night, double, with breakfast.

Visit www.tensingpen.com.
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