The resort’s 1-year-old spa is just gorgeous (my photos don’t do it justice). It’s about 30 feet from a quiet stretch of Caribbean beach, and you can opt to have the doors open and listen to the crashing waves – real ones, not ones on a CD – during your treatment. Do it!
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom Listen to the waves while getting a massage at the Radiant Spa in Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa
Sunlight beams in through the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the water — it’s not one of those dark cavernous spas lit by candles – and everything is new and clean. I saw the “Vichy” shower and outdoor hydrotherapy tub, tucked away in a private garden, and both were really nice. The menu has all the services you’d expect, plus a few unique things, like a “Cloud 9” massage that makes you feel like you’re floating in water, Jamaican brown sugar body scrubs, and papaya facials.
“We try to do things you can’t get anywhere in the world,” the spa manager told me.
Radiant Spa is a small part of this beautiful, mid-sized, all-inclusive, adults-only resort in the low-key Runaway Bay area. Even if you’re staying at their sister property, the family-focused Jewel Runaway Bay, a half-mile down the road (like I was), they’ll arrange for you to take a 5-minute taxi ride to the spa. I found it to be a heavenly break from the kids.
A former Hedonism 3, and then briefly, a family resort called Real Caribbean, this property was taken over by the fast-growing Jewel resort chain in 2013 and refocused toward health and fitness. The yoga, meditation and exercise programs have become so popular, USA TODAY just named Jewel Paradise Cove one of the best health and wellness spots in the Caribbean.
What works for families:
Being an adults-only resort, we’re talking families with grown children here. I think what’s best for families is the all-inclusive part. Pay one price, and you’re done. If your kids want to eat 10 times a day, or drink Red Stripe beer or rum all night, let ’em. It’s no extra cost to you.
I liked the spread-out, U-shaped layout, which created lots of quiet, private nooks – nice for alone time or private family time. During my visit, no one was riding the resort’s water slide, and hardly anyone was by the pools. Instead, everyone flocked to the scenic beach, ordering from the (free) beach-side fresh fruit smoothie bar, lazing on one of the many beach chairs, or taking advantage of the free paddleboards and kayaks.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom One of the beaches at Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa in Runaway Bay, Jamaica.
What doesn’t work for families:
No children under the age of 18 are allowed. So as long as your children are fine spending their vacation with people mostly in their late 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, they’ll be fine. I didn’t see any college-aged kids or people in their 20s there during my visit one afternoon in January. There might not be much for 18-20-year-olds to do at night.
$469/night for double occupancy
Jewel Paradise Cove is more upscale than the neighboring Jewel Runaway Bay, even though it has the exact same restaurants. Here, the rooms are a little nicer, there are hammocks under almond trees near the water, the view’s prettier, the spa’s fancier, and there’s a nice, long wooden boardwalk connecting its two beaches (one quiet, one more festive). Exercise stations (metal bars for stretching or push ups, etc.) dot the property. While Jewel Runaway Bay has an awesome new water park that opened in March 2015, the vibe at Jewel Paradise Cove is more mature and serene. Some guests custom-design days of exercise, healthy food and spa treatments.
Newly remodeled bathrooms with modern backsplashes and sinks are in the small but comfortable rooms, most with private balconies or walk-out patios to the pool area. For an extra cost, you can arrange to have things like a butler, a chef and free cell phone usage.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom A junior suite in Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa.
The spa is the gem of this resort. So are the yoga, wellness and exercise programs mentioned above. One really great amenity is that you get to pick one daily off-site excursion as part of your all-inclusive price – things like a sunset cruise, a snorkeling trip, or a glass-bottom boat tour. It’s rare to not have to pay extra for these things.
Dining at Jewel Paradise Cove:
As you’d expect at an all-inclusive, there were a wide range of dining options, from cook-on-the-table Japanese to giant buffets. My favorite is their restaurant, Platinum. It not only serves the best (and fanciest) food in the resort, but each dish is presented in a fun, creative way that’ll make you smile and say “ooooh,” when it’s served. I don’t want to give away the surprises, but it makes the meal extra special. They also have an impressive wine selection.
Jamie Bartosch is an award-winning newspaper reporter in suburban Chicago. She loves to travel, and blogs for TravelingMom.com from the viewpoint of a "typical suburban mom." Her goal is to provide honest, useful information to help families save time, money, and make the most of their family vacation. A married mother of two, Jamie grew up in the Chicago suburbs, lived in the city for 16 years, and is now back in the suburbs raising her two kids. Learn more about her at www.JamieBartosch.com