Hotel Of The Week: Lime Tree Farm, Jamaica
At Lime Tree Farm, high in Jamaica's Blue Mountains, they cultivate some of the world's best coffee beans. They also offer a few rooms for travellers seeking a very different experience to the coastal resorts
Sunday 10 December 2006
Worlds away from the popular perception of Jamaica as a rum'n'reggae beach destination are the Blue Mountains, which sit above Kingston on the eastern side of the island. In a landscape of coffee farms, rolling hills in many shades of green and jagged peaks wreathed in the smoky blue colour which give the mountains their name, a couple of genial Brits - and their families - have built a small hotel. Charlie Burbury is the grandson of a former governor general of Jamaica, Sir Hugh Foot, and bought the property, principally a working coffee farm, over the phone, 17 years ago. In a partnership with his uncle, Oliver Foot, and a childhood friend, Rodger Bolton, they have turned the farm into a peaceful place to stay.
The road, a torturous rutted track, runs out at Lime Tree Farm, which sits at 3,400ft above sea level. On one side of the eight-acre property, narrow terraces of shiny green coffee bushes cling to the hillside. On the other, the Cedar and Yallahs Valleys spread out below with the crumpled peaks of the Blue Mountains circling the skyline. The view is simply staggering - on a clear day it's possible to see, beyond the layers of blue hills and green fields, the shoreline of the Caribbean Sea.
The comfort factor
The farm's three solid cabins are set on a gently sloping lawn that is bordered by colourful tropical shrubs. Beds are enormous and very comfortable, with orthopaedic mattresses and duvets. All of the rooms have coffee makers with coffee (possibly the world's best) provided. Pay-as-you-go phones are lent to each guest, as are CD players. Each room has its own terrace with a share in the farm's spectacular outlook.
En-suite bathrooms are spacious with roomy tiled showers. The toiletries are basic - a bar of Imperial Leather soap is as far as it goes. There are also plans to build a spa on the property with an outdoor Jacuzzi.
The food and drink
Susie, Charlie's wife, is the farm's main cook and she specialises in delicious Jamaican food - fried plantain and breadfruit, ackee fruit, dishes such as callaloo and jerk chicken as well as steamed fish. Meals are served in the communal dining room and everyone - guests and owners - eats together. Wine is provided with dinner and there is an honour bar - all profits go to the local school.
Hikers, birdwatchers and those seeking solace and respite all love the farm. Wedding ceremonies - a long-standing draw for tourists to Jamaica - are occasionally held in the garden. Kingstonians wanting to escape the heat and noise of their city often come for the weekend.
Lime Tree Village is a tiny hamlet with one wooden shack serving as a shop and bar. The nearest sizeable community is Mavis Bank, about five miles down the hill, which has the local coffee factory (tours available) and several shops and bars.
The steep slopes and lawns of the farm are not suitable for wheelchair users. Children are welcome (Charlie and Susie have a sociable young son, Alex) and bunk beds can be moved into any of the rooms.
Rooms cost £50 per person per night, with airport transfers and all meals provided.
Lime Tree Farm, Tower Hill, Mavis Bank PO, St Andrew, Jamaica (00 1 876 881 8788; limetreefarm.com).
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