Dilly Dally and Discover Jamaica at Skylark

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

From its funky restaurant serving Caribbean cuisine to its retro décor and central location in Negril, Skylark is an affordable hotel for the adventurous traveller

In Jamaica, to “skylark” means to laze around, to dilly dally, to engage in shenanigans.

It’s a fitting name for one of Jamaica’s newest hotels in the island’s Capital of Casual -- the Skylark Negril Beach Resort.

Situated about 80km from Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport on the shores of the famous Seven Mile Beach, Skylark opened around Christmas 2018 and is an ideal property for visitors who want simplicity and authenticity in their travels.

Paul Salmon, Chairman of the new Skylark Negril Beach Resort that opened in
DEC 2018, stands in front of the colourful bar of hotel's Miss Lily's, the on-property
restaurant serving Caribbean and Jamaica-inspired cuisine.

“Because of our history down here, I think we’re excellent at curating a connected experience for our guests and working out ways that they can have a real Jamaican experience while they’re here,” says Paul Salmon, Chairman of Skylark and its sister property, Rockhouse, also in Negril, which he has been running since 1994.

Hotel staff are valuable resources to suggest the best local adventures and experiences waiting to be enjoyed outside of the hotel’s walls. They can help you arrange a dinner at Zimbali’s Mountain Cooking Studio, a rustic farm-to-table eatery serving a slice of authentic Jamaican cuisine.

Or, with the Rockhouse Foundation, the charitable arm of Skylark and Rockhouse, you can spend a day volunteering at one of its six schools. Over the past decade, the foundation has invested over CAD$5 million in projects improving education for the children in Western Jamaica.

The rooms at Skylark offer all basic amenities and decor is outfitted with a l
ocal Jamaican flavour.

“What separates us is that I think we’re great at connecting people to a real Jamaican authentic experience rather than being stuck in or just chilling in the resort. People who want, in addition to that, something where they go off-property and have that connected experience,” says Salmon.

“I think it’s best for a younger guest, people in the 25 to 40 category. We appeal to all ages, but we tap more into the adventurous traveller who wants to have more of a local experience and people who are young at heart.”

Salmon, an Australian expat, knows a thing or two about Jamaica’s rich cultural traditions. He has been living in “the Home of All Right” for some three decades. As he tells it, he chased a girl to the island and although it didn’t work out with her, he fell in love with the country and later deserted his Wall Street trading desk to operate Rockhouse.

Skylark is located right along the iconic Seven Mile Beach in Negril.

Skylark is a renovated property with a retro feel, a look that inspired Salmon to advance and enhance the vintage style in the resort.

Each of 28 rooms emulates that distinct retro feel with elements of local culture. The rooms, at roughly 400 square feet, fit a king size bed or two double beds comfortably. There’s no fuss or frill about them, but their quaintness is comforting and tidy.

Following the themes of “local” and “retro” throughout the property, vibrant art accents and old-school posters of Caribbean culture remind you why you’re there – not to remain in the sterile confines of a building, but to enjoy the flavour of the island you’re staying on – both culinary and cultural.

Skylark's spa offers a range of aromatherapy treatments, massages and
beauty procedures.

Skylar’s EP room rates range between US$175 to $250 during high season, and between $95 and $175 during the shoulder seasons.

Skylark spotlights the first Jamaican location for Miss Lily’s restaurant, one of four around the world. Miss Lily’s serves up a trademark colourful, retro-funk interior, from the vibrant décor right down to the music, which was playing Val Bennett’s 1968 jazz tune The Russians Are Coming when OJ toured the property.

Try the jerk chicken, says Skylark operations manager Cwaisy, to taste this classic Jamaican favourite in a way you’ve likely never had it before.

“In Jamaica, jerk chicken is done a certain way. We brine our jerk chicken first so because of that, it’s soft, it’s moist, but it’s still jerk. We put a twist on food,” he says.

A wellness space on the second floor of a treehouse-like structure hosts yoga and painting classes and the spa. The spa, overlooking the gardens, has two treatment rooms that feature a full range of massage, aromatherapy and foot and beauty therapies for singles and couples.

All these amenities are enhanced and expanded with complimentary use of Rockhouse facilities for Skylark guests. A shuttle that passes three times a day goes to the sister property, where guests can enjoy an entirely different Caribbean vibe – one with deep ocean waters and thatch roof villas along a jagged cliff face that pose an exciting contrast to the long sandy stretch of Seven Mile Beach.

This fall, Skylark will install a pool in the gardens and add a top level with 17 new rooms over the low season, bringing the total room count to 45 by the start of the next winter season. The hotel will be closed between SEP and NOV for the renovation, but Miss Lily’s will remain open to the public.

Skylark does not work directly with tour operators, but there are many direct flights from Canada to Jamaica and agencies are encouraged to book directly with Skylark. Agents are paid a 10% commission.

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