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The Private Villa Experience

A popular accommodation option in Jamaica is renting a private and fully staffed villa. Here's what you can look forward to:

Upon your arrival on the island, a driver will meet you at the airport in a comfortable and air-conditioned vehicle. En route to the villa, your driver will highlight points of interest as they take you across the island. You will also be treated to refreshments, and if the drive is long, don't hesitate to ask for a brief stop.

Your staff will greet you on your arrival at the villa and you can feel comfortable in your requests, since they'll be your caretakers for the duration of your stay. Make sure you introduce yourself to the head-of-house and establish a relationship with them, since they'll be your first point of contact if you need anything or if you have any questions about the villa and its operation. The cook will manage both grocery shopping and meal preparation. They'll already have a few planned meals and pantry staples on hand for your arrival, but will finish the week's shopping after meeting with you and establishing your needs. The usual budget is US$250 per adult per week, perhaps a little more depending on the villa, but less for children. This cost will vary depending on the market prices and the menus selected. You also have the freedom to accompany your cook to the market, or just sit back and relax while you review your likes and dislikes and trust the cook to do the rest. At some villa resorts, like Tryall, there is the possibility for the cook to charge groceries to your account which you settle at the end of your stay, although at most independent villas, unless you've arrange for a meal plan, the cook will ask for the money before shopping. Your cook will bring you the receipts and change.

For your staff, their day begins while you're sound asleep. Your cook will place pots of Jamaican coffee and fresh fruit platters outside your bedroom door or will lay them on the breakfast table. When you're ready, a full breakfast is served, which may include fresh orange juice, a selection of local fruit, banana fritters or plantain, eggs, bacon, pancakes or cereal. In Jamaica, light lunches are common, but for dinner you'll be treated to a feast of Jamaican specialties. This may include homemade soups and deserts, ackee and saltfish, jerk pork or chicken, shrimp or curried goat, perhaps even some lobster too when it's in season. However, if you're feeling homesick you can also request American dishes. Be aware: Jamaican cooks are excellent and serve big portions.

Your chambermaid and laundress will be assigned the responsibility of taking care of your bedroom and bathroom. You'll find a daily supply of fresh linens and flowers in your bedroom, neatly folded laundry and a turned down bed each evening. The gardener on the grounds will maintain the swimming pool and ensures your garden is immaculate every day. If you're renting a larger villa, then you'll have a butler who tends bar and facilitates. Other services are available on request, such as a masseuse, a nanny and a chauffer.

At the end of your stay, it's typical to tip if you've enjoyed good service. The staff employed at the villa rely on tips as part of their overall compensation. The recommended tipping range is 10% of the villa rental during high season and around 15% in low season, although some villas will give you more specific guidelines. These recommended percentages apply to the staff as a whole, not each member. Your villa will present you with a guide advising you on how you can distribute the tips based on seniority, for example, you can pay the entire amount to the head of house or to the property manager for distribution.

The villa experience will leave you feeling fully pampered and intrigued what would it be like to own one? If you're left wanting more, one of Jamaica's experienced real estate agents will be able to assist you in finding the villa of your dreams.


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