Villa Guide

Airport Arrival

You should plan to arrive in Jamaica at the Montego Bay International Airport (MBJ).

All passengers: 

  • clear immigration - you need to know that you are staying at Hillside House in Montego Bay

  • claim luggage

  • clear customs

After clearing customs leave the Main Terminal customs area and enter the transportation hall, proceed out the exit doors directly on your right to the taxi/van waiting area (outside). Your driver will be waiting for you in this area. He will have your name on a small sign. If you use porters tip them $1.00/bag.

 

Villa Arrival

  • Your driver will personally meet you at the Montego Bay Airport. No need to wait in lines for rental cars or the confusion of driving after a long flight. Your party will be comfortably transported, using a private, air conditioned van, directly to Hillside House.

  • The drive will take about 30 minutes and is a wonderful first introduction to the island of Jamaica.

  • When you arrive at Hillside House you will be met by the staff. They will tour you through the property and allow you to select your rooms and relax before dinner.

  • The cook will have ordered food for evening dinner and basic supplies for the week. You will be given a bill that can be paid at the local grocery store by cash (USD are acceptable) or credit card (VISA is preferred) the next day.

  • Dinner will be served by your staff possibly on a terrace overlooking the sea, garden or in a formal indoor dining room. It's your choice!! 

 

Telephone

  • Hillside House phone number is: (876) 956-7463. The Jamaica 876 area code is dialed like any other US area code typically with a 1 before it. 

  • Most telephone credit cards will not work in making long distance calls from Jamaica. You should check with your service provider before your trip. We recommend that you purchase a Jamaican prepaid calling card to use instead of your telephone credit card for all international long distance calls. These cards are readily available in most grocery and drug stores around the island. 

  • The Jamaican wireless system operates on a TDMA network, so it is not compatible with CDMA, GSM or 3G networks. Cable & Wireless and Digicell, the Jamaican providers, do have roaming agreements with the following service providers: 

    • USA - AT&T Wireless, Sprint and Cingular Wireless

    • Canada - Rogers Wireless

    • Barbados & Cayman - Cable & Wireless

  • If you have roaming service with these providers, you may be able to "roam" while in Jamaica, but check with your wireless service provider. Your van driver always has a cell phone and would be more than happy to let you use the phone when needed.

 

Meals

  • Ask any repeat traveler to Jamaica about where the best restaurant is and most will tell you "the villas". Villa cooks are fantastic. They can whip up a wonderful western omelet or prepare a superb Jamaican specialty such as ackee and saltfish. It's your choice.

  • You can ask the cook to "surprise" you with her Jamaican cooking skills, or work with her to plan out your meals. Our experience is that the food is so good you don't even want to think about going out to a restaurant!

  • You should arrange the details of meals with the cook, dinner hours etc. We suggest working out a dining schedule and menu for the week with your cook on the day of your arrival.

  • Below are typical meals:

 

Breakfast: 8-10 am

  • 1st course: Fresh juice, Blue Mountain Coffee, and fresh fruit.

  • 2nd course: Main entree - eggs or omelets, waffles, pancakes, etc. Main entrees are generally served with toast and a breakfast meat of your choice, or try a real Jamaican breakfast of ackee, Calaloo, and Johnny cakes with guava jelly.

 

Lunch: 12-1 pm

Some visitors like a hearty lunch and others prefer a light lunch after a large breakfast. Typical lunch menu - salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, Jamaican beef/ vegetable patties, or Jerk Chicken and Festival.

 

Dinner: 5:30-7:00 pm

  • 1st course could be a homemade soup - pumpkin, pepper pot, fish tea, chicken, beef, etc., served with bread or biscuits, or salad with your choice of dressing.

  • 2nd course - Main entree served with fresh vegetables, potatoes or rice.

  • 3rd course - Homemade dessert - Key Lime pie, sweet potato pie, banana cream pie, cakes, tarts, fresh fruit, etc.

Throughout the day ice and cold drinks will be available. Should these need replenishing, advise any staff member.

 

Food Shopping

  • Initial Supply: An initial supply of food and liquor is purchased in advance and is normally sufficient for two days.

  • Guests Repsponsible for Groceries: Guests are responsible for reimbursing the store which provides the supplies. Your cook will work with you on menus for all the meals and will do the shopping. You will need to provide her with money for these purchases.

  • Some guests prefer to shop for the food themselves, and some ask the cook to shop. Again the choice is yours. We find it fun to go with the cook when she shops for fresh food in the Montego Bay. If you want the staff to food shop you will need to pay for a cab or provide the transportation. Your van driver will be happy to do this for you.

  • Food Costs: Food costs average $35 - $45 per adult per day and $20/day for pre-teens. The size of the group, menu selection and liquor choices will affect the cost, so please remember that this is just an estimate. Also please note that household supplies (such as paper towels, soap, Kleenex) will be included in the grocery costs. 

  • Seafood: Remember that your meal choices will affect the grocery bill and items such as lobster (typically $10 USD/pound) and conch can have a major effect on your meal budget. We know that local lobster and conch are favorites with many guests; however, we request that you refrain from purchasing both these delicacies out of season. They need a chance to breed and replenish the supply, plus it is illegal to purchase live lobsters and conch "out of season". The Lobster season is CLOSED April 1 through June 30; and the Conch season is CLOSED July 1 through October 30. You can purchase imported lobster and conch, which may be available frozen in the grocery stores.

  • Grocery Store Recommendations: We have found that the best "American Style" grocery shopping in Montego Bay on the east side (Spring Farm) is Progressive Foods (near Blue Diamond Shopping Center) in Whitter Village and on the west side (Highland House and Tryall) is Super Plus or the grocery store in the Westgate Shopping Plaza. All these stores accept credit cards and are air conditioned. We have found that the best grocery store in Duncans (Silver Sands) is Chens . They will accept credit cards and deliver for a fee of $3.00. Feel free to stop anywhere along the road if you see interesting fruits or vegetables. All market foods should be paid for in Jamaican dollars. Fresh fish can sometimes be obtained from local fisherman.

 

Security

Jamaica is a friendly place to visit. For added security, we participate in an island-wide security measure in which each of our villas is either staffed at night with a professional security guard or trained staff members. You need to take the same care with security that you would in your own home.

 

Respect

Vendors of various local products may approach you occasionally, attempting to sell their wares. The best way to deal with them is to listen politely to their brief offer; then if you have no interest, a firm "no thank you" will generally end the conversation. Ignoring locals, in this situation or others, is a form of disrespect taken seriously by Jamaicans. In general, any visitor showing respect to Jamaicans will receive the same in return.

 

Last Day Tipping

  • It is customary to tip your staff at the conclusion of your stay. An appropriate gratuity is 10% - 15% of the villa rental (10% in Winter and 15% in Summer). This would be divided among the staff members according to their seniority and service provided. It is also appropriate to tip your van driver approximately 10% after they drop you off at the airport on your return home.

  • Typically the largest tip percentage would go to the cook, with the remained divided up among the other staff members. We typically place the tip in individual envelopes for each staff member. We give it to them when the van picks us up for the airport. 

 

Airport Return

On your final day at the villa enjoy a leisurely breakfast before your driver arrives to take you back to the airport. Your driver can advise you on the time you need to leave the villa based on your airport departure time. But plan to be at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight. Drive time from Hillside House to the Montego Bay Airport (MBJ) is approximately 30 minutes.