The number one question I am asked most frequently is “where is the best place in the Caribbean for a family vacation?” I have recommended Half Moon Resort Jamaica so many times I’ve lost count, here is why:
Ten Reasons to Book Half Moon Resort in Jamaica
1. The villas and cottages are HUGE and have great space for a family to spread out
We stayed in the same ocean front villa that Prince Harry vacationed in. There is a huge living space, a separate kitchen for staff (that is another of the ten reasons, just wait) and separate bedrooms that are large enough you could actually have multiple families stay. You have a private pool and use of golf carts to tool around the property.
2. The private villas come with a full staff
Even if you choose a cottage you still have a great staff experience, however, for a busy family and tired mom you can’t beat a private butler, housekeeper and cook. Yes, all for just you. The butler comes every morning to serve breakfast on the patio and help you plan your day. They will do everything from planning excursions or tennis lessons to shuttling children to the kids’ camp. The cook stays at the villa (in separate housing) and is available to make all three meals and snacks. Our cook, Girzel, was so popular with the kids that they never wanted to go out to dinner. I have tried to recreate her jerk chicken, it’s just not possible. The meals aren’t all fancy china and gourmet fare, they are traditional Jamaican foods and though served by a butler are casual and take all the stress out of a family vacation. There’s no cooking, cleaning or even the stress of making reservations. The housekeeper comes daily and will do any laundry left in the hamper. This means you can pack light and not worry if the kids cover their t-shirts in strawberry smoothie.
3. Horseback Riding in the Ocean
There are a lot of places you can go for a pony ride. There are fewer places that you can ride horses INTO the ocean. I have done this on other islands but have never found a resort that keeps the horses on property and makes the experience so easy. The horses don’t have saddles and love this activity as much as the guests do. While I stuck to the traditional sitting on the back of the horse type of ride, the boys tried out their mad skills in case they join the circus. The horses are gentle and seemed quite used to any and all types of riders, even those who were trying to surf them. The staff were very sweet and stayed with the boys the whole time. I understand that you can even hold on to your horse and float through the ocean drifting behind it. I clearly need to go back and give that a try.
4. Old Fashioned Family Time
Day to day life at home leaves little time for just being together. Somewhere between making dinner, supervising homework and getting everyone to baseball practice means we never spend a night just being. I’d be hard pressed to name the last time we watched the sunset together at home. Every night at Half Moon Resort we pulled a lounge chair down onto the lawn and snuggled as the sun dipped below the horizon. I offered to pull several chairs down, but they all wanted to pile on top of me. Of all the extraordinary things we did on this vacation, this is my favorite photo. It reminds me that my boys won’t want to snuggle with their mom forever, someday there will be a girlfriend or a wife who will get the privilege, but for now they are mine and I want to enjoy every moment of it.
Despite all of the organized activities the resort offers, the boys made up all sorts of games on their own. They talked their dad into playing coconut catch. As evidenced by his button downs while on vacation, he doesn’t relax easily. Watching him just play with the kids was a rarity, it’s usually coaching with the aim of improving some sports skill. As far as I know, there is no formal “coconut catch” team. They also spent hours trying to open coconuts on their own and decided that if stranded on a desert island they would die.
5. World Class Tennis Center
Some resorts have a few courts and a sleepy pro just in case guests want to hit. Half Moon has thirteen lighted courts and top notch instruction. I have played in resorts all over the world and rank these facilities in the top 5. The courts are hard and the pro shop has demo racquets in case you forgot yours. We all took lessons at the same time, the kids loved playing with the pros and then we had a family round robin. I won, because I’m too competitive and yes will beat my own children. The pro I worked with actually changed a small part of my serve that seriously changed my game, for years I had been set up the wrong way to serve to the ad side, his small change made a huge difference. If you’re not an insane tennis player bent on upping your game you can just enjoy a relaxing afternoon of social play.
6. World Class Golf
Don’t take my word for it, take my husband’s. He is a scratch golfer and the reigning club champ at our course in Connecticut. He’s picky about his golf. It’s never the stunning vistas or the 19th hole libations that thrill him, it’s good coaching. He was so pleased with his private lesson with the head pro Spencer Edwards that he created a Trip Advisor account to rave about him. This is a man who doesn’t know “where Facebook is”, let alone Twitter or Instagram.
7. Anancy is no Ordinary Kids’ Camp
I don’t often leave my kids at kids’ camp. We vacation to be together so unless I have a spa appointment and no other option, we generally don’t use the camps. Yes, I will abandon my children for the spa, just ask them. Keaton spent one day at Anancy so we could review it, he then begged to go back. Seriously. It’s not just a room with some crayons and bored caretakers, it’s an entire little island village of brightly painted cottages. Each cottage has a different activity, necklace making, painting, etc. I’m not sure if it was the variety of the activities, the charming setting or the enthusiastic staff but I actually had to beg Keaton to come to the pool and play with me.
7. Massages OVER the Water – Enough Said
I’ve seen a few spas in my travels (that’s an understatement). I have seen very few with a setting like this, the only other spa where I’ve had an over water massage was in the Maldives, and that’s a 17 hour flight away. The Fern Tree Spa is the largest spa in Jamaica and has these magical massage bungalows perched over the ocean. You almost don’t need the massage to relax it’s so stunning.
8. Unstructured Fun for Kids
One of my favorite things about leaving the US for a family vacation is the relaxed rules. You don’t find signs telling the kids, “don’t touch” “must be supervised” etc. The staff at Half Moon LOVE kids and the resort offers plenty of opportunity for kids to just play. I know, crazy concept right? Grown ups get golf carts to explore the resort, kids get bikes. Because it’s gated and there are almost no cars, it’s very safe for the kids to ride their bikes everywhere. The boys loved riding down the street to the life sized chess game every day.
9. The history
I love resorts with a grand history. There is something about the grandeur of iconic figures having visited a property before me that secretly thrills me. Sleeping in Prince Harry’s bed sort of tops the list. My husband didn’t feel the same way, but he did admit to being a little impressed. Half Moon has become the Jamaican home away from home for the royal family since the 1950’s. American royalty also love it here, Jackie Kennedy penned her will in one of the ocean front cottages. Other luminaries who have tucked in for the night Half Moon include Paul Newman, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Crawford.
10. The kids love it
Half Moon is a special place. It doesn’t have the fanciest furniture, or kids camps full of Nintendo gear, it has that something special that makes you feel at home. The staff acts as if you are a part of their long lost Jamaican family and they are here to welcome you back with a traditional meal and a hug. There is no request that is too much to ask, we even had a doctor visit the villa because one of the boys had an ear infection. He arrived with his doctor’s bag and antibiotics. We know many families who return to Half Moon Resort year after year for this very reason, it truly is an island home away from home.
To get to Half Moon you fly into Montego Bay and the resort arranges for your transfer. You need a passport, sunscreen, flip flops and not much else. The resort is currently offering some great specials for summer getaways-you can book here: Half Moon Resort Jamaica.
This post was sponsored by RockResorts.