The romance of Strawberry Hill Jamaica Luxury Resort starts with its sweet name, given by the reputed original owner, the 18th century British man of letters, Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, the son of Prime Minister Robert Walpole and cousin of Admiral Lord Nelson. In 1780, the Royal Family granted Horace the Blue Mountain property in the Crown Colony of Jamaica.
Horace rejoiced to discover that the property’s elevation was ideal for growing strawberries. Having called his neo-Gothic castle in London, Strawberry Hill, how delicious it was to clone the name in this lush, gaudy mountain landscape!
Admiral Lord Nelson himself visited Strawberry Hill. One can picture him relishing a cup of that novel stimulant, Blue Mountain coffee, on the Great Lawn, just as our guests do today.
In the late 18th century, the property became a Foreign Officers’ Naval Hospital. Successive owners included such prominent families as the Cargills and the DaCostas. The latter began serving British-style Sunday High Teas, offering homemade scones and estate-grown strawberries with cream. The residence’s following owners, Fred and Emmeline Moffatt, carried on the custom.
Many Kingstonians made the winding drive up the mountain to Strawberry Hill, including a young Chris Blackwell, whose dashing mother, Blanche, would take him to tea. As founder of the Island Records label, Blackwell went on to become an innovative music industry icon. In 1974, he fulfilled a childhood dream when he purchased Strawberry Hill from Mr. Moffatt.
The Rock and Roll Years
Strawberry Hill soon became a haven for musicians. Island Records’ legendary Jamaican artist, Bob Marley, enjoyed many a romantic rendezvous here. It was also at Strawberry Hill where, in the mid-1970s, Marley found shelter and peace after threats to his life. Today, many artists and visionaries, thinkers and doers, continue to return to Strawberry Hill, time and time again, for revitalization and renewal.
The first Strawberry Hill Restaurant opened in 1986, and shortly thereafter, won the National Heritage in Architecture Award. Unfortunately, the structure was short-lived, as Hurricane Gilbert struck two years later and “mashed-up the place.” Blackwell was determined to recapture the Great House’s Georgian grace (in a contemporary Caribbean vernacular), by engaging the young Jamaican architect, Ann Hodges, a specialist in traditional Jamaican building techniques.
In 1994, Blackwell’s Island Outpost hotel chain opened their first Caribbean hotel, Strawberry Hill, and was soon lauded with the Governor General’s Award for the Use of Wood in Architecture. Three years later, the exquisite environment of the resort garnered the Award of Merit as the best Resort/Villa/Hotel, followed by the Governor General’s Most Beautiful Design Award.
Strawberry Hill, where Lord Nelson strode and Bob Marley loved, continues to reinvent itself for each new generation. Its majestic natural setting, combined with the hotel’s superb architecture, artistic embellishments, lush gardens and attention to service, will never fail to soothe and stimulate our treasured guests.