Rio Chico Villa named “Unforgettable” by Huffington Post
January 08, 2013 - Sandals Resorts - Private Villas by Sandals & Beaches
When it comes to villa vacations, “luxury, exclusivity and location” are standard, but it takes a special place like Rio Chico to deliver unprecedented hospitality, historic culture and stunning views. Hidden on the north coast of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Huffington Post travel writer, Irene Levine, discovered the charm of Rio Chico’s 14-acre private tropical paradise, naming this breathtaking estate a top-rated destination for “unforgettable villa vacations.” Read about Irene’s experience at Rio Chico below:
Both the villa and the grounds of Rio Chico have the charming patina of age. Originally built in the late 1800s as a guesthouse for nearby Dunn's River Falls, it went through a series of owners until 1992, when it was sold to its current owner, Gordon "Butch" Stewart, owner of Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts, as a family getaway. Stewart tastefully refurbished the house, which is one of four private villas in Jamaica now managed by Sandals.
Upon entering the iron gates and long driveway of Rio Chico, guests are enveloped in a private park-like enclave bordering the Caribbean Sea. Running streams, rivers and cascading waterfalls can be seen and heard throughout the lush, tropical 14-acre property dotted with stone bridges and lily ponds.
The two-story, colonial-style main house has six large bedrooms, which are tastefully decorated with beds covered in Anichini linens. Each room has a private bath and full-length patio overlooking the beach, the sea or the exquisitely landscaped Italianate gardens with stone walls. For privacy, the house is divided, with two separate stairways leading to the front and back bedrooms. An additional bedroom (with ensuite bath) is located on the entry level.
The expansive living space on the first floor includes a formal sitting area; a chandeliered dining room; an informal family room with a billiard table and mirrored, fully stocked bar; and a media room with a library of DVDs. Many of the ceilings are hand-painted by a local designer.
A self-contained two-bedroom cottage is only a two- or three-minute walk from the main house, and is ideal for older teens, or nannies and young children. A charming open-air chapel (made of stone) sits on the eastern side of the property. Rio Chico has welcomed many international celebrities and dignitaries over the years, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Congressman Joe Kennedy, Donatella Versace, Robin Williams, Boy George and Wesley Snipes.
The property has 2,000 feet of protected shoreline with two white sand beaches, two freshwater swimming pools filled by a tributary to the falls, a heated Jacuzzi and a lighted tennis court. Guests can use the "toys" available on site to participate in water sports, which include snorkeling, sailing, kayaking and aqua cycling.
Most impressive, however, is the attentive and professional staff who cater to the whim of every guest -- including a butler, lifeguard, laundress, housekeepers and chef, Ignazio Podda, who hails from northwestern Italy. Chef Podda sits down with guests upon arrival to create inspired menus incorporating both Jamaican and continental dishes. Each evening, the house team finds a magical new dinner setting, either on the beach, in a river or on a romantic patio overlooking the sea.
Rio Chico is one of four luxurious private villas in the collection of Private Villas by Sandals & Beaches, offering true island living within your own personal exotic oasis. To learn more about each of the Jamaican villas: Sundown, Villa Plantana, Lime Acre and Rio Chico, visit www.uniquevillasofjamaica.com.