Jake's

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?

You can almost see the Pelican Bar from here: a cottage at Jake's     Photo: Richard Lannaman

"IF WE DON'T ENCOURAGE GUESTS to leave the property, they wouldn't," says owner Jason Henzell. He ought to know. Ten years ago, Henzell, 34, and his mother, Sally, opened a small restaurant on six acres overlooking Calabash Bay and named it after a local parrot. A small guest house followed, and each year, as the Henzells' gospel of sophisticated laziness spreads beyond the fishing village of Treasure Beach (pop. 600), on Jamaica's southwestern shore, more rooms are added. Which only makes it easier to give in to inertia. Lounging under the acacia trees next to the tiled saltwater pool, a pair of still-pale English thirty-somethings allow that they've been devouring books from the well-stocked library for four days. They reel with shock when my boyfriend and I start naming off the places we've been (Great Pedro Bluff! Black River fruit market!) and the things we've seen (dolphins! crocodiles!) and eaten (grilled conch! jerk crab!) in just two days. Soon, they wobble off on mountain bikes, determined to find out what they've been missing.

The Good Life // From modest wooden cabins with funky mosaic bathtubs to bright adobe bungalows topped with open-air rooftop chill zones, the 15 cottages at Jake's are a mélange of Moroccan style and iconoclastic tiling—all sans TVs or phones but avec CD players. (The bar has a stellar music collection for your listening pleasure.) Lucky us, our pink palace came with a wooden porch overlooking the surf and an outdoor shower with claw-foot tub, plus swanky Aveda potions. There are two chow houses: Jake's, the poolside bistro, where the coffee's delivered fresh daily by a woman who roasts it over a wood fire; and Jack Sprat's, a beachfront joint where Fabulous (yep, that's his name) serves up jerk crab and coconut ice cream, and a DJ spins dance-hall reggae into the wee hours.

Jaw Dropper // A pilgrimage to Shirley Genus's wooden zareba—basically a hut with a sauna—is required. Strip down next to a steaming terra-cotta pot filled with a healing soup of organically grown lemongrass and other herbs, then sweat like the dickens. Afterward, let Shirley hit all the pressure points ($30 for steam bath, $60 for massage; book through Jake's).

Sports on-Site // Sea-kayak or snorkel through the rocky maze that hugs the beach. (Kayaks are free; snorkel gear can be rented at the bar for $10 a day.) Or hire a local to take you out fishing for snapper, jack, kingfish, and grouper; trips can be arranged at the front desk ($35 an hour per person).

Beyond the Sand // One day, on our way to ogle crocodiles along the Black River, 16 miles northwest, our boat chugged past the Pelican Bar, a tiny shack on a lick of sand. Our captain shouted out a lunch order to Floyd, the owner, and on the way back we parked, waded ashore, and dug into $6 plates of steamed fish, grilled onions, doughy white bread, and bottles of Red Stripe ($35 per person for Black River boat tours; book through Jake's).

The Fine Print // Air Jamaica (800-523-5585; www.airjamaica.com) flies round-trip to Montego Bay from New York for about $600, from L.A. for $800. From December 19 to April 20, a double-occupancy room at Jake's (877-526-2428, www.islandoutpost.com/jakes) costs $95 to $395, meals not included ($75 to $325 in low season).

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