ROOMS: 11COTTAGES PRICE: $515--$950
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE:DIVE FROM ONE OF THE CLIFFS ON HIGH AND DINE IN ONE OF THE CAVES DOWN LOW
To enjoy themusic rooted in Jamaica's history merely head for the water. Whether you arestrolling or sunbathing on Negril's Seven Mile Beach or swimming just offshore,music is in the air. During a shoot of models Selita Ebanks and Bar Refaeli onthe stretch of beach outside Cosmo's Seafood Restaurant, three different bandswandered past playing such popular folk genres as mento, nyahbinghi andkumina.
Although reggaeand dancehall have carried the contemporary sounds of the island worldwide,Jamaicans still delight in these other musical traditions. "When theancestors came here, these are the songs they played," says Rastafari, thelead singer of the Jamaican folk band Hot Steppa Cultural Group, a localfavorite.
The spectacularview also remains much as it was in the early 1500s when the first Africanslaves were brought to the island by Spanish and Portuguese settlers. The townof Negril is located on the west coast of Jamaica, where the seemingly endlesssunsets are a guaranteed amenity at any of the area resorts, including TheCaves. This unique retreat--11 cottages, each "planted" in a garden--isperched above a string of grottoes and honeycomb rocks protruding from the sea,the outcroppings covered by marine life. Guests are free to swim in the aquawaters and explore the rocks and caves below; one of the grottoes even servesas an intimate private dining area.
A winding coralpath leads to each bungalow, all shaded by lush sea-grape trees and most withoceanfront views. "My father loves privacy and builds with that inmind," says Joanna Saulter, whose parents, Bertram and the late Greer-Ann,designed the resort. Bertram remains a co-owner of the property with ChrisBlackwell, the founder of Island Records and the most famous of Bob Marley'sproducers. "He never cuts down a tree unless he has to. Whatever the landform is, that is what he builds around."
Nature did thehard work, so all that is left for guests to do is sit back and enjoy.
TheCaves mixes (clockwise from bottom left) breathtaking views with flourishesthat are man-made (four high-dive platforms built on the honeycomb rock) and,in the case of this photo shoot, woman-made (Anne V).