In This Issue
Welcome to Jamrock! An island oasis filled with awe-inspiring lagoons, tranquil waterfalls, and of course delectable cuisine. EBONY April 2023 cover star, Jodie Turner-Smith—who is of Jamaican heritage—traveled to her family's homeland for her head-turning photoshoot. The Murder Mystery 2 actress chose the picturesque Geejam Hotel in Port Antonio, Jamaica as the backdrop for her recent romp, and we're taking you inside the posh accommodation.
The hotel consists of two premium villas: Cocosan, with 6 bedrooms, and Panorama, with 4. Both villas have a bespoke staff, concierge and private chefs, which are connected to the bigger hotel. Geejam Hotel has 19 rooms in total, a restaurant and bar—namely the Bushbar—and an infinity pool in proximity.
We got a peek inside the paradisaical property—from the inspiration behind the hotel's creation to the unique offerings and excursions you can try during your stay.
The road to Geejam was one of happenstance. Co-owner Jon Baker stumbled upon the hidden gem that is Port Antonio back in the 80s and fell in love. Nearly 20 years later, he along with a few of his music industry friends decided to open the posh, boutique property in 2007.
"It was like the world's best kept secret—lush and completely unspoiled; and Portland, the parish which is home to Port Antonio and its inhabitants, had an incredibly lovely energy," he shares. "It's an area that’s changed little over the years, but does have an incredible history behind it—having been a magnet for celebrities and people looking to host retreats. These are not the all-inclusive types, which is why they continue to come, seeking nature and a natural experience."
For many guests, Port Antonio is more attractive in comparison to more touristy areas because it's slightly "off the beaten track." Best accessed by flying into Kingston—rather than Montego Bay—it doesn’t offer mainstream tourism, and in a sense, that's what truly makes this Jamaican retreat unique. Everyone from backpackers and explorers to high-end travelers looking for something different from the all-inclusive experience book the secluded digs.
There are rivers, a rainforest and as many as six different beaches that you can visit, all with their own unique character and vibe.
"Geejam was—and is—about music and pop-culture before it became a hotel, and that influence continues today. The name Geejam comes from my original independent record label, Gee Street Records, which operated out of New York in the '90s," Baker says. "We had artists such as RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, PM Dawn, Stereo MC’s, Doug E. Fresh and Gravediggaz, to name but a few. Jam is short for Jamaica or jam session."
When you stay at the hotel, a must-try experience is the bespoke rafting on the Rio Grande—and we don’t mean whitewater. Guests are whisked away on a 45-minute drive into the rainforest below the Blue Mountains. There you pick up a bamboo raft with your own captain, and partake in a very serene ride down the Rio Grande—which is absolutely stunning when it comes to nature and the vibe you pick up.
There are incredible waterfalls close to the hotel. Nanny Falls in Moore town, the Maroon area of Jamaica, as well as Reach Falls. They are very underpopulated, usually meaning that it will be just you and a few other people, as they remain unseen by the wider tourism community or the public.
"Geejam Beach—our private beach—is ideal for children. It’s located in the same bay that the last James Bond movie, No Time to Die, was filmed. It was used for Bond’s Caribbean residence, and actor Daniel Craig utilized Cocosan while they filmed those scenes here," shares Baker.
The property is an oasis. So much so, many guests who come for only a couple of days end up saying, “next time I’m gonna stay longer.”