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Great Huts: Portland Jamaica Jungle Resort
Ringing the entrance bell stirred excitement as my friend and I waited to see beyond the bamboo-crafted gate. We were greeted at the reception area with cheers of natural juice. The workmanship is one of the first things you’ll probably notice – impressive stone and wood assembly, intricate lighting fixtures, and a vast collection of pieces on display at every turn by local and African artists. Jamaican and African cultures are unabashedly celebrated here, woven into the décor, artistic elements, and public events hosted at the venue.
Cozy Camping & Rustic Rooms
Great Huts Resort’s camping site provides the simplicity of the outdoors with added conveniences, like Wi-Fi and plumbing. These single-story huts look pretty simple from the outside but are more spacious than they seem once you step in. The central area here houses multiple bathroom stalls, sinks, and an aviary of resident parrots who may just say hey as you walk by.
Great Huts’ Chic Huts & Tree Houses
I spent 2 nights in a Bamboo Tree house room, and when I say it’s airy I mean it! The tree house is in fact built among the greenery with bamboo, stone pillars, and nature’s lushness acting as walls. May not be everyone’s taste, but after overnighting on a private island and going nude in public I was more than comfortable with the open accommodation. Little details like the inclusion of mosquito netting and repellent coils, incense sticks, and an industrious fan that circulates natural breeze didn’t go unappreciated. Being incorporated into nature, I’m unsure if the look and slight mustiness of the room were due to consistent exposure to the sea breeze’s damp air, or age; it wasn’t a deal breaker however.
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical seeing just how open it was, being someone who doesn’t like critters in my personal space. However, being serenaded by the whisper of nature’s children was soothing and mysterious, and added to Great Huts’ appeal. The constant sound of sea waves crashing at the beach below was calming to say the least, and as usual made for a better night’s sleep.
Great Huts’ Africana House
If the other accommodations seem a bit too in the open for you, the Africana House may be a more ideal getaway. This separate villa-style vacation home faces the sapphire sea and has multiple rooms that can be booked individually or as a collective. It is decked in Afro-Jamaican art pieces, and includes an impressive steel-woven staircase. Its 2 levels open out to a stone-tiled rooftop hangout, with a private pool below. Though it is more covered from outside elements in comparison to the other room types, it wouldn’t be Great Huts without natural touches, would it? While visiting the Africana House a small bird found its way inside and fluttered around the 1st level’s ceiling before eventually finding its way out. I saw the birdie as a real and refreshing reminder that ultimately, no matter where on the property you are, you’re in Mother Nature’s home.
Safari Deck Restaurant
The on-site restaurant is clad with more handcrafted wooden furnishings, from the seats and tables to the hanging lights. The safari vibe is enhanced by thatch-style roofing and panoramic views of its surroundings. Its wow factor for me here was what seems to be a life-size (I assume) giraffe sculpture bursting through the middle! Many of Great Huts Resort’s events are hosted here featuring performances and showcases from the Portland community, and by extent Jamaica and Africa.
Great Huts Resort’s Safari Deck prides itself on gluten-free offerings, preparing done-to-order breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. The breakfast menu options for guests change each morning, including traditional Jamaican dishes. My friend and I both opted for the national dish of ackee & saltfish (my favourite!) with sides of ground provisions, fresh fruits, natural juice, and French-press coffee. We each enjoyed a whole pizza with fresh coconut water straight from the husk for late lunch / dinner.
Great Huts Resort Amenities
Each Great Huts Resort stay includes:
- Complimentary breakfast
- Wi-Fi Access
- Fan and / or AC (AC only in Africana House Rooms)
- Access to private beach section, general pool, and yoga & meditation areas
- Access to resort’s book & film collections
The snake trail is a wooden plank that winds around the cliff through various spots on the property. Breeze brushing the leaves along the trail, and the hypnotic blue hue of the Caribbean Sea call for a relaxing stroll. You’ll pass through the bases of open huts, a quiet yoga & meditation site, scenic seating, and a general pool.
The shared pool sits on the cliff, bordered by painted conch shells. I was joined, or more accurately I joined a crab that was cooling out on the pool’s floor. When I visited in summer it was unsurprisingly hot, and truth be told I was a bit disappointed that the pool water was closer to room temperature than a refreshing cool. Though it was big and deep enough to swim in I found it more enjoyable to just gaze at the endless sea while listening to its song. The waves crashing against the cliff weren’t as loud here as they were outside our Bamboo Treehouse room, providing a different level of calm.
Portland’s Boston Bay Beach
Along with Frenchman’s Cove, San San, and Winnifred Beach, Boston Bay is one of Portland’s more beloved sandy havens. It is the reputed pioneer home of surf in Jamaica, where it’s evidently still practiced today. It boasts white sands, turquoise water, and gentle ripples with occasional surfing tides. We watched surfers in the distance awaiting and signaling incoming waves, some learning while others exhibiting their obvious surfing experience.
Great Huts Resort has a Boston Bay beach section, separate from the populated public area, which guests can access right on the property. Fitted with hammocks, lounge chairs, and a small bar all you’ll really need to add is clear skies to easily have a perfect beach day! The waves here were probably the most relaxing I’ve experienced at any beach; the water wasn’t still but its current was just enough to gently nudge you. Steps from the sandy shores lie rock-sculpted natural pools and a cliff jumping plank carved right into stone for thrill seekers. After therapeutic chats in the wading water, our trip was made better by an aloe vera massage from a local who offers his services around the area.
With the warmth of Mother Nature cradling Great Huts, and added amenities of modern day, this Portland eco resort can be the reset you didn’t realize you needed. If not yet convinced to spend a night, consider dropping by the Safari Deck to get an introductory experience to its rustic charm. Actually visiting Paradise on the Edge will surely be different from whatever you imagined it would be!
What feature of Great Huts Resort appeals to you most???
- Room Atmosphere 70% 70%
- Cleanliness 70% 70%
- Staff Interactions 70% 70%
- Food 75% 75%
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