MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- Sometimes a vacation product really does
live up to its hype.
Such was the case with Noble House, a Jamaican property and a
member of the Villas by Linda Smith collection.
Having visited 10 or so of these villas on a whirlwind trip to
Jamaica last January, I knew Smith's portfolio was pretty
spectacular, but I hadn't stayed at any one villa for a significant
amount of time.
The question was this: Would the charm of a villa vacation
sustain itself for seven days? Suffice it to say -- it did.
The only problem, my three traveling companions and I agreed,
was trying to articulate what we liked best. There was a lot to
like about Noble House.
The four-bedroom, six-bath, 6,000-square-foot house is set on
five acres overlooking the ocean near Montego Bay.
The Great Room opens onto a wrap-around veranda facing palatial
grounds, a beach and water. A 2,000-square-foot pool cottage and a
pool also are part of the mix.
The house, with pavilions and peaked roofs, is decidedly grand, yet
very comfortable. Its design allows a healthy share of natural
light to seep into the living spaces, some of which are divided by
water gardens and bridges. We loved the openness of the house and
how it let us experience the climate.
The staff of seven, including a cook, butler, chambermaids,
gardeners and laundress, anticipated our every need.
Valrie, the cook, prepared two different menus per meal because
two of us were vegetarians and two were not.
"The vegetarian choices were excellent and much less expensive
than eating out three meals a day," a nonmeat eater said.
We paid cash upfront, provided Valrie with a basic list of food
preferences and left the rest to her.
For $30 a day we had three exquisitely prepared meals -- in
addition to predinner hors d'oeuvres.
"What I liked best was not having to think about meals," said
one of my traveling companions. "They just appeared. Often when you
travel, you spend a lot of time discussing what to eat, then
identifying a restaurant, and then getting there -- all very
We were a bit hesitant about having a staff of servants. "I
thought it might be weird to have people waiting on us, but they
were so nice and genuine that I felt instantly at ease," my friend
Linda Smith, owner of Villas by Linda Smith, said that many
clients asked her what they would do with a butler.
"By the time they leave the villa, they're asking themselves how
they can live without the butler," Smith said.
Indeed. Lloyd, our Noble House butler, was on the job at 6:30
a.m., preparing early-morning coffee that he discreetly placed on
the verandas outside our bedrooms.
Lloyd stayed until we were ready to turn in at night, and he
also served our meals and predinner cocktails.
Stephanie and Hyacinth, the housekeepers, had the daunting task
of maintaining the large house, which they kept in pristine
Patrick and Adrian, the gardeners, tended the grounds and the
pool. Cynthia, the laundress, washed, folded and ironed our
clothes. Guests actually return home with a suitcase full of clean
Our only daily concerns were what hedonistic pleasure to pursue.
Should we loll around the pool, or maybe
visit the Round Hill Beach Club -- membership is complimentary
to Noble House guests -- to use the fitness center, restaurant and
We came and went as we pleased, thanks to Nigel, our Noble House
Although guests are not required to hire a driver for the week,
I highly recommend they do so.
For a set fee of $666, which, divided by four, came to $166.50
apiece, we could go anywhere we wanted for as long as we
One day we traveled to Negril for a stroll on its seven-mile
beach and drinks at Rick's Cafe, purported to offer one of the best
sunset views in the Caribbean.
We missed that sunset because we knew cocktails, hors d'oeuvres
and a fabulous dinner awaited us back at Noble House.
We usually dined al fresco on the main veranda that overlooks
the grounds and the ocean.
On our last night, however, we opted for the villa's formal
dining room, with its splashy crystal chandelier.
In the end, the only bad thing about Noble House was having to
To contact reporter Claudette Covey, send e-mail to [email protected].
For more details on this article, see:
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• Villa owner tells agents the price is right