A previous winner of FTF’s Top 10 Getaways for Luxury Family Travel, Half Moon, Montego Bay, Jamaica, offers the ultimate splurge vacation. This is a high-end experience for adults that welcomes and embraces young guests. Since we last visited this super luxe resort in 2015, it has expanded and added more housing while maintaining its classy vibe.
Travelers who are reluctant to abandon the more traditional elements of luxury, such as formally-attired wait staff, crystal chandeliers and colonnades — even when vacationing on the islands — might have found their match at the posh Half Moon. This legendary oasis, now a member of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, dates from the 1950s and is where the famous and the royal came to play in Jamaica.
Illustrating why bigger can be better, Half Moon, set on 400 private, lushly landscaped acres with a staggering 54 swimming pools (including an Olympic-size lap pool and one with a swim-up bar), an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Sr. championship golf course, 11 tennis courts as well as two croquet lawns facing the ocean, has selected as one of the Best Family-Friendly Luxury Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico by Conde Nast Traveler in past years.
Posh Lodging Options for Every Family, Every Style
For lodging, there are several resort choices which altogether total 210 accommodations offering a combination of rooms and suites of various sizes. Founders Cove at Half Moon are the classsic one to three-bedroom villas curving around Sunset Beach. For half a century, these sanctuaries have offered families individual swimming pools, private staffs comprising of a chef, butler and housekeeper, two golf carts and bicycles.
Rose Hall Villas are 27 units with five to seven bedrooms. Best for multigenerational groups, the Rose Hall villas each have a kitchen, private pool and their own staff. Eclipse is the newest of the resort developments, with 57 accommodations in an Anglo-Caribbean plantaion manor style. There’s an infinity-edge pool, swimming cove, seven bars and restaurants right there to maintain the privacy and exclusivity for residents.
Myriad Activities at Half Moon Montego Bay
There are enough activities to keep even the most finicky family busy, but we think the private two-mile white sand beach deserves special mention. Not only can families swim, snorkel and scuba dive, but there is even a Dolphin Lagoon where children can engage in a variety of age-appropriate dolphin encounters. Horse lovers can ride along the beach through the on-site equestrian center, where offerings go well beyond the usual trail ride to include everything from pony rides for the kids to formal dressage and show jumping lessons.
For more aquatic adventures, the resort offers Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth (more simply known as SASY), for children aged 5-10. As the kids suit up in their specially designed children-sized scuba gear, they explore the various pools of the resort as they learn the basics of scuba diving. Older children, 12 years and up, can participate in SCUBA lessons which takes diving education to the next level, allowing the kids to explore the ocean. Finally, teens 15 years and older are eligible to qualify for the PADI Open Water Certificate. And for parents, while the kids are experiencing the wonders of SCUBA, Half Moon has introduced new parasailing and tubing activities on the waves.
Pamper Yourselves at Half Moon Montego Bay
For a break from the sun, adults can relax at the 68.000 square-foot Fern Tree Spa, an indoor/outdoor sanctuary for a full menu of traditional Jamaican spa treatments. Additionally, there is a huge, state of the art gym with fitness classes. Relaxation and meditation zones include a hydrotherapy pool, aromatherapy steam rooms and outdoor yoga.
For those who think you can’t dine well in the Caribbean, Half Moon boasts a variety of restaurants including the popular Cedar Bar, adjacent to the iconic Half Moon gazebo in the Founder’s Cove area. Families will enjoy the dress-up, award-winning signature restaurant, The Sugar Mill. Sample its modern twist on Jamaican cuisine while enjoying views of the lush landscape and a historic water wheel of the former Rose Hall Sugar Plantation. Delmare features fresh caught snapper, grouper and shrimp at its new location in the Eclipse section. Of course, there are casual beachfront options. Room Service and arrangements for Private Dining are available.
Kids Will Adore Half Moon as Much as Parents
For a moderate fee, youngsters aged 3 to 12 spend hours of fun time at Anancy Children’s Village. Register kids in either the 3-6 or 7-12 years group in the club named for a clever spider who, with pal Brer Rabbit, is a hero of Jamaican folklore. The brightly colored facility, designed to look like a rural Jamaican homestead, keeps kids busy and happy with storytime, creating puppet shows and arts’n’crafts.
Outdoors, there are shaded areas, and equipment includes swings, a sand box and a wading pool. Each activity is supervised by a well-trained coordinator. Children who are under age 3 or not potty trained can play at Anancy Children’s Village if accompanied by a nanny. Additionally, “Very Important Little Persons Services” include a welcome drink and gift.
Together, up your tennis game, play pickleball or squash, take out a kayak or try pool volleyball. Teens have their own exclusive areas to hang out.
For booking information, contact your travel specialist or Half Moon (800/626-0592) which is located in the Rose Hall section of Montego Bay, just 10 minutes from Sangster International airport. Seasonal rates range from $$ to $$$$$ a la carte but restaurants can be very pricey — instead, explore their seasonal “all-inclusive” dining and lodging packages which many families prefer.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.