Fabulous Jakes at Treasure Beach, Jamaica...Also Dougie - and the Pelican Bar
TREASURE BEACH, JAMAICA - Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
I hadn’t made up mind on where to spend my final day in Jamaica. So, a few weeks ago I put out a note on Twitter asking for help. Sure enough, someone sent me a note and suggested I try a hotel on the south coast called Jake’s, in the community of Treasure Beach.
What a find. It’s a real, well, treasure that most definitely has a sense of place. It’s quite casual, with a small lobby area in an old wooden house and colourful furnishings. The rooms are a hodgepodge of styles; mostly stucco with wild, creative designs that use everything from conch shells to old bottles. They also have spacious patios and outdoor showers and, in some cases (mine, for one), an outdoor bath.
I had a unit called Octopussy 2 with a fabulous, Moroccan-style rooftop patio with blue and white striped chaise lounges. Old tree branches were used to create a bit of a canopy for shade over the lounges and also were stuck in the ground upright between units for a privacy screen.
I loved the outdoor rainfall shower, which gave me a great view of the ocean about 10 feet away. Ditto the bath, as I rarely bathe in an old-fashioned claw tub steps from the surging Caribbean. I was in the shower when a small boat went by a couple hundred meters off shore, and all I could do was wave.
They have a great restaurant on site and dining is either under cover or on a patio shaded by giant almond trees and bougainvillea and other tropical plants and with a nice view of the saltwater pool and the ocean. They also own the funky Jack Spratt’s next door, which serves up seafood and pizza in a place that's decorated with reggae memorabilia. I had a pizza with jerk sausage that was easily the best pie I’ve eaten outside Naples. Not too spicy but wonderful and smoky and a pretty good crust.
The woman who designed most of the resort is Sally Henzell, who was the art director for the classic Jamaican film The Harder They Come. Her late husband, Perry, who attended McGill University for two years, was the director, and her son, Jason, pretty much runs Jakes and also is building a massive sports complex nearby for the community, partly with the help of Canadian government funding (for which he is very thankful, by the way).
It’s wonderful and quiet and remote – about two hours down a mostly crummy road from Negril or two and-a-half hours from Montego Bay. There are colourful fishing villages nearby, and a couple decent beaches with ramshackle, colourful bars.
Oh, I almost forgot the legendary bar on the property, Dougie’s. It’s manned by the affable and talented Dougie, who’s been there for decades and makes a fabulous rum punch. And, thanks to some kids from Kentucky at the resort on Friday night, he knows how to dance "The Dougie." More on Jake’s to come in the pages of Star Travel, for sure.
If you’re so inclined, you can pay $20 and get a guy to take you out in a small boat for the 20-minute ride to the Pelican Bar, a famous spot made up of old driftwood and boards that sits on a reef about a kilometer from the shore, near the town of Black River. It’s a great place to stand around in the surf and suck back a Red Stripe, and you’re sure to meet some interesting folks. If nothing else, you can sign the giant Canadian flag inside or check out the Manitoba and New Brunswick license plates above the bar.
On our way out to the bar, a huge kingfish jumped out of the water and arced through the warm Caribbean air like a basketball shot. It had a good two or three-second hangtime and had to have sailed 30 yards in the air. Even our seasoned boat pilot, Captain Joseph, was hootin’ and hollerin’ about it.
I got a kick out of the drive down to Treasure Beach from Negril and from Treasure Beach back to Montego Bay, as we passed colourful posters tacked to telephone poles for India trips, exotic dance halls and beach parties. One of them read “Wet Dreams – All White Beach Party.” I never did get the bottom of the poster, but it sounded pretty crazy.
I also marvelled at the shacks at the side of the road that have been turned into small businesses. Great names, too, like Tingling’s Market. Clive and Judith’s Beer Joint and First and Last Cook Shop.
If you don’t use up your camera’s memory card in places like this, you’re not trying.