By Allessandra Inzinna
A sun-kissed traveler peaks out of the balcony of Villa #8. Just a head-tilt down is the location from a breathtaking scene of the legendary, 1973, Academy Award-nominated film Papillon, starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.
The film follows a man accused of a grisly crime as he attempts several escapes from prison. Ironically, in the film McQueen is fleeing from the site that would one day be a captivating destination where droves of tourists escape to per year. That hotel is called Rockhouse.
Rockhouse Hotel, the owner of Villa #8, is located in blissful Negril, Jamaica, stretching across cliffs that kiss the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean sea. The hotel inherited the natural beauty of its original 4-acre expanse, on which several other films, including Academy Award-winning film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), used as a backdrop.
Officially opening its doors in 1973, Rockhouse has always attracted a world of elite creatives. The mesmerizing space has hosted GQ, Playboy and Penthouse magazine photoshoots, and served as the scene to a Jay-Z music video. Its beds have welcomed the likes of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and the band members of the Rolling Stones.
Travel and Leisure touted the now sprawling 8-acre, 40-room boutique hotel as something like an “adult summer camp you’ve always wanted.” It certainly looks like it, with stunning straw-roofed huts and ladders leading from the rocky cliffs straight into the sea below.
“You can’t be busy being somebody, because you have nowhere to be,” the Travel and Leisure piece states. “Rockhouse asks you to stay barefoot and watch time pass.”
Time has indeed passed. About 50 years after the King of Cool (aka McQueen) trudged through Negril sand, Rockhouse has been dead set on protecting the island scene that hypnotized so many film legends.
This agenda includes safeguarding the environment. Measures incorporate the elimination of 90 percent of its single-use plastics, solar heated water, extensive composting, low-voltage lighting, harvesting rainwater, and much more. To ensure these practices are fully upheld, the hotel has implemented a stellar “green team” of managers for each of its departments.
“Negril is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and we do our part in keeping it that way,” the hotel pledges.
Fittingly, Rockhouse has received the gold star of Environmental Certification for the past decade from Green Globe, an organization focused on sustainable tourism. The hotel partners with Green Globe to host an annual competition, the Negril Area Green Globe Quiz, to fortify environmental education among youth in the community. The competition is hosted in the Negril Library for local sixth graders to advance their knowledge of sustainability. Eight local schools and their bands of 11-and 12-year-olds attack buzzers for the grand prize of a trip to Kool Runnings Water Park.
This is just one of the many initiatives the hotel implements for youth. As a matter of fact, if the hotel has a say in the future of Jamaica’s youth, it’s going to be a bright one.
The Rockhouse Foundation, created by the owners of Rockhouse, has – since its inception almost 20 years ago – injected over $7 million into local schools focused on early childhood education. The foundation also completely renovated the Negril Library, and is currently working on expanding to more local primary and high school campuses. During the pandemic, the organization also supplied the community with over 250 tons of food, which sustained over 1000 people in need of support.
All in all, Rockhouse hotel wants you to relax and enjoy your Jamaican getaway – straight out of the setting for two Academy Award-winning films – sipping your fruity cocktails and lounging by a cliffside pool. All the while, you can rest assured… They will be steadily taking good care of the beautiful people and environment that make their island home extra special.