My decision to do something different for my birthday this year (August 25) took me to the hills of Montego Bay and into the homely warmth of Point of View Villa and Spa, located in the rural community of Belmont. And what can I say? If ever there was a Holy Grail of getaways off the beaten path then this place is among the best examples of it.
Because of the occasion, this review will be a little different, but, through my experience, I hope you get a clear picture of what Point of View Villa in Montego Bay has to offer. If you’re reading this and want to get the quick breakdown, I’ve highlighted that first below.
What I liked
- The view: a breathtaking sweep of the Montego Bay Freeport area below that you won’t get tired of (or forget after you leave).
- Pool and deck: though small, it is strategically placed to maximize the view and (often) breezy atmosphere.
- Food: delicious meal choices include tasty Jamaican dishes and seafood, but you can also have other types of meals prepared if arranged ahead of your stay.
- Accommodation: four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms – all spic-and-span – with everything needed to host 10 – 12 people comfortably.
- Friendly staff: from Cordella the Cook to Michael, the Caretaker, the staff will make you feel more like family.
- Transportation arrangements: easy and convenient pickup/drop off service available if you don’t have your own ride.
- Grounds: immaculately kept and landscaped, with fruit trees, vegetables, and well-trimmed grass.
- History: an enchanting and artistic love story lies at the centre of Point of View Villa, Montego Bay (as mentioned earlier).
What I disliked
- The road leading to the property: needs to be repaved, plus no streetlights along some stretches. However, not sure if POV Villa has any control over this.
Point of Villa is definitely one of those escapes you must experience for yourself. I highly recommend it, and it’s one place I’m already thinking to visit again soon.
Now let me dive into some more information about the destination.
It turns out that Point of View Villa and Spa in Montego Bay has great historical significance to both the people of Jamaica and the European country of Poland and the world, by extension. Recently renovated, it was once the studio of the world famous Polish Painter, Michal Leszczynski, more popularly known by his anglicized name, Michael Lester. A sea captain, Lester came to Jamaica after the Second World War and never left. Having made his name as a painter of great worth in England, Lester set about redefining his craft with some Jamaican flavour in the 1950s.
His pieces soon became highly sought after by many of the top hotel properties along the north coast at the time. The luxury Half Moon Hotel, in particular, was a big supporter of his works. Since his death in 1972, there have been exhibitions of his work, including at the Tryall Great House in Hanover, and in his native, Poland.
During my stay, I learned a lot about Lester and the property from the grounds caretaker and landscaper, who happens to also go by the name Michael and grew up in the area during the time that Lester was around. He recounted how Lester formed a tight bond with the people of Belmont, with a number of his paintings depicting the locals and the Montego Bay lifestyle at the time.
Many of the people from the area were actually employed by him to build his house, once called “The Anchorage” (now separated from the Villa) and his art studio, which is now Point of View. He shared the property with his wife Peggy and dozens of dogs, many of whom were strays from the area (Michael told me Peggy was a true animal lover).
There is plenty more about the story of Point of View Villa, Montego Bay, but this review would turn into a history lesson. You can find out more on your own by talking to Michael the Caretaker when you visit, or by asking to read Michael Lester’s biography, which is right on a table at the front door of the main house. Now for the review.
Now for my Overall Assessment
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect at Point of View Villa and Spa, Montego Bay, except to know that it was my birthday weekend and I intended to have a good time. I had seen the pictures online and, after interacting via email with the friendly owner Yanique, expected that it would be an excellent location to ring in my latest 20-some birthday.
To make the occasion extra special, I invited a few friends and family members, along with my girlfriend. Only two of my friends made the trip eventually, which meant the entire property was shared between four of us. Needless to say, my expectations were more than met, and the sentiment was the same from my friends who were also there as a couple.
Getting to Point of View Villa
It takes about 20 – 30 minutes from the city of Montego Bay up to the Point of View property, which is located at the summit of the Belmont community. If you aren’t driving your own vehicle, I would recommend arranging pickup with the Villa. The owners are very flexible and go above and beyond to ensure the safety and comfort of guests. This was one of the things my friends praised them for as they had arranged to be picked up by one of the Point of View drivers upon arrival in Montego Bay.
By the way, Point of View has several drivers at their disposal, who are not only courteous and conversational but also know the area very well. In addition, traveling with them, I would say, is more secure.
Once you leave the city behind and enter the Belmont district, you will, almost immediately, start feeling the hustle and bustle of the city drifting away. The further you get up the hill, the more you realize that you are, in fact, venturing into a true hideaway. Now, the roads do get bumpy in some areas and my friends, who arrived in the night, did mention that some parts of the road were devoid of streetlights. With that said, the drive to get to Point of View Villa and Spa itself is scenic and filled with fresh air (if you keep the windows down).
I was happy to walk in and see a welcome message with my name (a very nice touch). For my meal that evening I had requested one of my favourite dishes which was already waiting for me when I arrived at the Villa. Cordella, the resident Cook, made Curried Goat with Rice and Peas and my oh my was it delicious!
You’ll love having Cordella as your chef and host. She was bubbly and friendly and made me feel right at home; I felt like I knew her forever. My friends, due to arriving in the night, met her the following morning and agreed that she made them feel comfortable and at home.
Enjoying the Property
To begin with, I was wowed by how clean and tidy every room was. I stayed in the Almond Breeze room, a master suite which comes complete with a four-poster King-size bed (it was my birthday after all), while my friends stayed in the Magnolia Room, which holds two beds. There is also the Bamboo Room and the Oasis, which is detached from the main building.
Except the Bamboo (which shares a bathroom), all rooms have impressive walk-in shower enclosures and modern toilets. In keeping with its artistic background, every room, including the bathrooms, are adorned with bright and colourful art pieces. If you have an appreciation for art like I do, you will appreciate this feature of Point of View Villa and Spa.
Overall, the rooms are beautiful, but there was one thing that was a teensy-weensy drawback. The locks on the doors are just entrance locks, not privacy, so guests can’t secure them. Even with a night security guard and the assurance that the community is relatively peaceful, I was a bit apprehensive about not being able to lock the door.
I’ve already mentioned these concerns to the owner Yanique who was quite gracious, thanking me for the feedback. In fact, she has already put plans in place to implement this and about 2 or 3 of our other suggestions. That’s something you just have to love (hosts who take pride in their business and the comfort of their guests). I love it!
Back to my critique…The living room was also a comfortable chill spot with its preserved (no longer used) fireplace, flat screen TV, guest computer desk, and comfortable sofas. One of my nights was spent here, playing dominos and drinking Rum Cream with my friends, while trying to find a channel to watch the Floyd Mayweather/ Conor McGregor Title Fight.
Did I mention that Wi-Fi is free throughout the property and that you have access to satellite TV?
Outside, the main activities include lazing about on the pool deck, wading in the pool, taking in the magnificent view of the Montego Bay skyline afforded by the high elevation of the Villa, as well as enjoying the fresh, clean country air.
Did I mention lazing about on the fabulous pool deck?
My girlfriend and I indulged in Yoga in the morning, and it was truly a bonding-with-nature experience. We also spent some time exploring the grounds, noting how the property was rich with flowering plants, palms, vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, and fruit trees that include soursop, sweetsop, naseberry, and mango. Unfortunately, none of these fruits were in season, but I enjoyed the lush green surroundings, nonetheless. One of the highlights of my stay was playing mock pool volleyball with my friends. It was loads of fun, and yes my partner and I were the winners, lol.
On the third and final day of my birthday weekend stay at Point of View Villa and Spa, I found myself not wanting to leave.
As a matter of fact, I asked for my checkout time to be extended to later in the afternoon. Again, the owners were pretty cool and granted my request. I ended up leaving well into the afternoon after spending a few more hours in the pool, taking in the breathtaking view, and enjoying Cordella’s tasty cooking.
My birthday weekend at Point of View Villa and Spa in Montego Bay was near-perfect, and I am sure to go back soon. This is a hideaway/getaway that I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience a piece of Jamaican country life and art history, as well as to get away from the cookie cutter lifestyle that is offered at the massive all-inclusive resorts.