In celebration of its 65th anniversary, Half Moon Resort in Jamaica is undergoing an extensive transformation.
The 400- acre beachfront resort in Montego Bay is being reimagined with a new lobby, concierge area, new back road service routes, a new Great House, 57 accommodations, an expanded beach front and swimming cove, an adults only infinity swimming pool, two restaurants, a market café, a vegan café located at The Fern Tree Spa, three bars and a new pathway and entrance to the spa.
The new $75 million enhancements are set to launch in Spring 2019.
The 57 new suites and guest rooms include Estate Ocean Suites, Estate Ocean Rooms, Prestige Ocean Room sand a Great House Ocean Suite.
The Estate Ocean Suites will offer ocean views, a wet bar, outdoor showers and French doors that will open to a covered outdoor living/dining area.
The Great House Signature Ocean Suite will be located in the center of Half Moon, on the first floor of the new Great House and include a kitchenette, walk-in closet, open plan living area and an expansive balcony.
New Prestige Ocean Rooms feature private patios or balconies, ocean views and bathtubs or showers. Estate Ocean Rooms are in the timbered Estate Houses with ocean views and private outdoor living spaces.
All new rooms will feature a vibrant color scheme, natural and woven materials and local artwork.
The new renovations come just three years after the resort finished upgrading their Sugar Mill Restaurant and the additions of Lester’s Café coffee bar featuring Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee and The Cedar Bar terrace and bar with a wide variety of rums to choice from and gorgeous ocean views.
No two rooms are alike at the resort. When I visited in January, I stayed in a beautiful large ocean view room located on the second floor of one of the properties two-story cottages. The big airy space featured two televisions, a king wooden bed frame, a beige color scheme with orange and green accents, a waterfall shower, big soaking tub, a separate seating area and French doors which led to a huge patio with views of the palm trees and ocean.
Guests can enjoy dining at the resort at Il Giardino offering upscale authentic Italian fare including a wide variety of house made pastas. I sampled the chocolate tagliolini with lobster, the gnocchi with fresh basil pesto and the pasta Bolognese. The restaurant’s antipasta selection is large and includes tomato and burrata cheese; grilled octopus with potatoes; baked eggplant parmesan, warm prawns in red pepper sauce and a panzaneli salad among other choices.
Sea and land main dishes include oven baked grouper, a mixed seafood grill, pan seared snapper, lamb loin, steak and a stuffed chicken.
Diners can choose to sit in the romantic indoor dining room featuring dark grey and white tile floors, elegant lighting and intimate table seating or al fresco on the patio with flower upholstered chairs and an ocean view.
Guests can take a short shuttle ride to the elegant award-winning Sugar Mill Restaurant, located overlooking the Half Moon golf course. The kitchen is headed up by Executive Chef Christopher Golding, who has created dishes utilizing fresh seasonal ingredients. Guests can enjoy dinner by candlelight surrounded by high ceilings and stone walls or dine al fresco on the terrace by the old water mill and lush gardens.
Appetizer highlights include foie gras with pineapple carpaccio; jerk chicken rolls with rum chutney; shrimp and watermelon ceviche; smoked Marlin rolls with crab meat and conch on beef carpaccio and crispy pork belly with coconut jelly, grilled ackee and plantains with jerk sauce.
Fish and seafood dishes included grilled lobster, Chilean sea bass in coconut milk, snapper with pickled vegetables and coconut crusted grouper and grouper with crabmeat and yams in a coconut anacho cream sauce.
There’s also a spectacular oxtail ravioli with fried oxtail confit, pumpkin and thyme sauce; ribeye, Wagyu strip and tenderloin steaks; rack of lamb; veal with jerk herb butter and double cut pork chops with apple and rum compote.
Side dishes include roast garlic mashed potatoes, jerk potatoes gratin, steamed bammies, grilled vegetables and lamb risotto.
Desserts include mango soufflé, macaroons and cookies.
Also housed at Half Moon is the elegant Seagrape Terrace featuring gorgeous ocean views and al fresco all day dining. The menu includes a variety of dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast buffet features tailor made omelets, ackee with salted fish, cheeses, bacon, sausage, a variety of juices and smoothies, oatmeal, cereals, toast, bagels and waffles.
Dinner appetizer choices include seared ahi tuna with grapefruit and guacamole; scallops crudo with a lemon vinaigrette; shrimp cakes, asparagus and pistachio fried blue cheese; lobster bisque; lemongrass and sweet corn soup, pea and mint soup, tomato and bean salad and romaine and papaya salad with goat cheese. Main courses include grilled lobster tail; salmon with green pea puree; grilled grouper and mahi mahi; tenderloin with bone marrow crust; short ribs; pork tenderloin with spicy sausage and jerk chicken.
Desserts include a trio of crème brulee; ice creams; rum cake and plantain pudding.
Half Moon has recently opened the Ital Café featuring raw dishes and tailored juice shots. Located inside the gorgeous Fern Tree Spa, vegan dishes include jack seed cheese and viva pizza and jerk eggplant steak which can be paired with a sorrel cooler and ginger lemonade.
Guests of Half Moon can enjoy a variety of activities within the resort. The Fern Tree Spa features overwater bungalows, steam rooms, a gorgeous lagoon pool, beautiful gardens, a meditation labyrinth, a large yoga pavilion, relaxation lounge and a variety of massages, facials, body treatments and mani and pedicures.
The property also houses an 18-hole golf course, putting and practice greens, a pro shop and golf lessons. The famous Equestrian Centre offers an unmounted empowerment horse experience, swimming with horses, pony rides for children beach rides and riding, jumping and polo lessons. Eleven lighted tennis courts and a family pool with a swim up bar and Olympic lap pool are located on the property, with an adult only pool opening in Spring 2019.
The resort is located on over two miles of pristine beaches where guests can scuba dive, swim, enjoy water sports or relax and take in the panoramic ocean view with a pina colada made with fresh coconut juice.
For reservations, visit www.halfmoon.com.
Half Moon Resort provided a stay for this review.