Mandeville is one of Jamaica’s hidden treasures, a community tucked high in the mountains at an elevation of 2,000 feet above sea level, ensuring cooler days and nights than in the coastal communities. The region first appealed to Jamaica’s English settlers, who came here to escape the heat and founded a town in 1816. Soon, an English-style community, with a central square and clock tower, was established. Small hotels arose to serve the expatriates and the travelers who came to do business in the area’s bauxite industry. But in the 1950s, Jamaica’s other assets, its beautiful beaches and coastal areas, began to outshine this getaway. Tourism in Mandeville declined, although the area became a favorite with Jamaicans who had lived abroad and returned to retire, building grand homes.
Today Mandeville is a strong contrast to other Jamaican cities. Shiny new fast food outlets stand on clean, guttered streets. Jamaica’s omnipresent burglar bars are missing from many residences. Massive homes, as impressive as any along the California coastline, cling to hillsides. No vendors search for travelers. Still, the city remains true to its Jamaican roots. In this environment almost devoid of tourists, adventure travelers can meet Jamaica residents up close and personal. Take a stroll around town, dine in one of the small, local restaurants, and don’t be surprised by an invitation to join someone at a private party in their home.
It’s easy to see that Mandeville boasts the highest standard of living on the island as well as the lowest crime rate. Much of the wealth seen in the town comes from the Alcan Jamaica bauxite plant, the region’s major employer.
The parish of St. Elizabeth has always been known for its sense of community and friendly people. Traditionally, the people in the area have been farmers and fishermen, but are now venturing into tourism. St. Elizabeth is unique in that many of the families in the area have lived there for many generations and have a deep sense of tradition and belonging. The area is poised to develop a neighborhood tourism. This type of tourism appeals to the experienced traveler looking to experience the culture of Jamaica, learn about our history, appreciates value for money and is looking for privacy in a restful and angst free environment.