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Tryall Club & Half Moon

December 10, 2007 By: Kathleen M. Mangan Travel Agent

Venerable Jamaican resorts marry contemporary design to old-time elegance

IN THE EARLY DAYS OF JAMAICA TOURISM, old-money families, celebrities and captains of industry came to Tryall Club ( and Half Moon ( in Montego Bay.

Both resorts have been operating for more than half a century. Tryall Club has continued to add impressive, individually designed villas, while Half Moon has developed a villa community as well as hotel accommodations. Today, these independent resorts offer an alternative vacation experience on an island known for all-inclusive properties and packaged retreats. Recommended restaurants in Montego Bay

With the splendor of its location and diverse offerings, it's no wonder Tryall Club attracted the wealthy and powerful—it has arguably the most spectacular sea vistas on the entire island. Built on a 2,200-acre hillside plantation, the resort presents picture-perfect views of an expansive coastline and the city of Montego Bay from all of its 78 privately owned villas.

Each of the 65 white, open-air Estate Villas is staffed with five full-time employees. The units vary from two to seven bedrooms and many feature such special facilities as a screening room, cigar bar or gym. All have private pools and golf carts. Five villas have been built in the past two years, and four more are under construction. One of the most impressive new villas is Trinity, with a waterfall splashing into a pool that spills over an infinity edge into a lower pool. This villa has a dining gazebo, audio room and five bedrooms with open-air bathrooms. For a tranquil slumber, one bedroom hides behind the waterfall.

Another villa, Twin Palms, is suitable for larger families or groups, as it contains seven bedrooms and 12,000 square feet of space. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 13 one- and two-bedroom Great House Villas are best for couples and small families. Have clients traveling with the children in tow? Family-friendly highlights include a babysitter/nanny service and kids club. The five-bedroom villa Xanadu at Tryall Club

Contact Dainty Smythe, head of reservations ([email protected]; 876-956-5660, ext. 4240), for VIP bookings. Agents can also contact the managing director, Douglas Brooks ([email protected]; 876-956-5660, ext. 4236). Tryall Club is a member of Virtuoso and Signature.

The center of the resort is a great house built in 1834. Chef Dennis McIntosh serves gourmet cuisine on the terrace; a new stone café is nearing completion on the beach.

Heather Richards, guest relations/sales manager ([email protected]; 876-956-5660, ext. 4364), handles special requests, from private dinners on the beach to helicopter tours and yacht cruises. A pre-arrival call ensures that golf tee times, tennis court times, food for the villa and other details are planned in advance. Tryall's Villa Viviana has six bedrooms

Golf is the most popular pastime among Tryall guests, and golfers have the pleasure of playing on the 6,221-yard, par 72 course designed by Ralph Plummer. The course has hosted the Johnnie Walker World Championships. Another popular option is tennis; two of the nine Nova-Cushion and clay courts are lighted for night play.

Although the 398-room Half Moon also started with privately owned units, the resort has diversified its accommodations over the years. The original 10 cottages on Sunset Beach feature 53 one- and two-bedroom suites. These accommodations' waterside location and sunset views make them some of the most popular picks—Suite 34 in Cottage 1 and Suite 146 in Cottage 4 are the most requested.

There are 12 room categories at Half Moon, comprising 33 villas, 152 suites and 46 rooms. This past month, six spa suites opened with chroma-therapy tubs in the bathroom and private spa treatment rooms, perfect for couples. The superior rooms in Oleander Terrace are the most affordable. The Royal Villas are an excellent choice for families or groups who want a community atmosphere. They feature five to seven bedrooms, a three-person staff, a private pool and two golf carts. Oleander Terrace superior room at Half Moon

To book VIPs, agents should contact Jackie Gordon, reservations manager ([email protected]; 876-953-2615). The general manager, Aram Zerunian, is also available to agents ([email protected], 876-953-2211). The resort is a member of Virtuoso. All booked guests receive an advance call from Clive Lee, pre-arrival concierge ([email protected]; 876-953-2211, ext. 6718), who makes reservations for restaurants, spa treatments, golf tee times and offsite excursions.

Half Moon recently opened the Fern Tree Spa, one of the largest spas in the Caribbean. This 68,000-square-foot garden complex of pavilions, meditation gardens, waterfalls and a lagoon pool has nine treatment rooms, a yoga studio and VIP suite. Spa Elder Stella Gray ([email protected]; 876-953-2211, ext. 6755) conducts private consultations and has incorporated native botanicals into signature treatments. Half Moon's Sugar Mill Restaurant

Similar to Tryall, Half Moon is popular among golfers. Its 7,125-yard, par-72 parkland course was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and recently renovated by Roger Rulewich. For other activities, guests can swim with dolphins, go horseback riding, parasail, play tennis on 13 lighted courts and shop at the Half Moon Shopping Village. The Anancy Children's Village entertains kids ages 3 to 12.

Reservations are at must for Half Moon's Sugar Mill Restaurant, where guests dine amid 200-year-old sugar mill ruins. At the Seagrape Terrace, palm trees surround diners, while guests eating at Il Giardino enjoy a wine cellar atmosphere. Agent Advice

Early bookings for both resorts are recommended for the holidays, the winter season, the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in January and Reggae Sumfest in July.

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