- 5 bedrooms
- 5 bathrooms
- Sleeps 12
Description from the owner
A *FIVE STAR* - "FOODIES PARADISE" - AWAITS YOU!
Come and Explore the Lush Tropical Mountains- only 25 min. from Negril.
Zimbali Retreats is a 7 acre organic Farm located in a real farming community. This Fertile Mountain Valley has a 300+ year History as some of the most Prized Land in Jamaica. Here the people are Friendly, the Food and Water are Natural and Life is as it has always been.
It is from here that Zimbali brings you a True Cultural and Dining Experience Unrivaled in Jamaica.
EXPLORE THE FOODS- Zimbali has created a “Mountain Cooking Studio”- where Dining is more than just Taste, but a True Sharing E...xperience. Currently our Mountain Cooking Studio is ranked #2 of 146 restaurants in Negril on Tripadvisor! Chef ‘Obrian’ is always on stage as he prepares all your meals using the Foods and Fruits of the Season, Grown right here on the Farm. Obrian is a true “Foodies Delight” as he experiments with a Fusion of Styles and Tastes- both Traditional and New. He welcomes you to “Sit In” and Learn- or “Join In” and Share your Favorites with him. Be sure to ask him to make you his special Gluten Free Chocolate Cake or try the Steamed Fish in Banana Leaf with Fresh Grated Coconut! Chicken, Seafood, and vegetable dishes are our Specialties. Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free and all dietary restrictions are all available.
EXPLORE THE CULTURE- Zimbali is a True ‘Family Run’ Farm & Retreat. You will want definitely want to get to know our own “Mama of the Yard”- Auntie Ms. Dee. Her infectious laugh aside-she is quite the “Juiceologist” and will delight you with daily Fresh Juice Sensations. Cousin ‘Carr’ always has a smile and takes pride in keeping your room immaculately clean. Tour the farm with ‘Mr. G’ and let him cut you a Coconut from the Tree. Meet Mr. McKay, 83 years young, he is Lisa’s step-father and our lead Farmer. It is because of his lifetime of experience that the Farm Flourishes. You will also meet Uncle Carnadie and Uncle Rambo who tend the over 700 fruit trees of Zimbali.
Uncle’ Fudd’ will guide you for Water from the Natural Spring- and then lead you on the Rasta Tour. Here you will meet Rasta ‘Fire’- who will share with you his Ancient Lifestyle and Cook you an ‘Ital’ Lunch on the Open Wood Fire, using food and fruits from his extensive 25 year old farm. On the way back you can stop at ‘Ishanti’s’ Artist Studio. Ishanti has been featured in Jamaica’s National Gallery of Kingston and we are lucky to have such an Artist in our midst. Meet Sunrise, a local family man and farmer, who will take you for a River Swim at Bob’s Swim Hole- many from the area still remember the place where the iconic legend would come and Swim.
There is more…but you will have to come and Discover these for Yourself. Each Person comes for their Own Reason and leaves with a Personal Touch. Whether Seeking to Learn, Relax, Create or Heal, Zimbali exists for you. At Zimbali you will discover that a real slice of Jamaica still exits. You will experience its old world charm and easy pace of life. This is a real community and real family. You may come as a guest, but you will leave as family ;)Read more
About the owner
Mark & Alecia Swainbank 876-485-2789 Full profile
Response rate: 95%
Response time: Within 2 days
Calendar updated: 3 months ago
Overall rating: 4.9 / 5.0 based on 151 reviews
(Property location is approximate)
Additional Location Information
Zimbali Mountain Retreat is a 71/2 acre 100% organic fruit farm, located in Jamaica, on Caanan Mountain approximately 25 minutes outside Negril. Caanan Mtn. is a fertile mountain valley, blessed with many mountain rivers and springs, that gently slopes down to the Savanna la Mar. The residents drink straight from the ground and bathe in gentle rivers that weave through the shade of a bamboo canopy. Caanan has a proud history going back over 300 years; a time when sugar cane, bananas and foreign estate owners were the order of the day. Ancient stone bridges, walls and damns still proudly bear witness to a different time.
More About This Location
Mountain nearby, Warm winter getaways
Golf course within 30 minute drive, Horse riding nearby
Nearest beach, 10 miles
Nearest shops, 10 miles
Nearest airport: Montego Bay, 30 miles
Car is not necessary
Last updated on June 23, 2014
Not available for your dates? Check availability for 89 other Negril rentalsCheck Availability for Negril
Rates shown in $ USD
Enter dates to see your price
|Don't see rates for your trip?|
- Tax rate | 16.5% of rent
- Fees for additional guests may apply.
Additional notes from the owner
* Package includes all Meals, Snacks, fresh fruit juices and non alcoholic beverages
* Additional persons in the villa are $99 per person/day.
* Full Bar available at additional cost.
- Soap/Shampoo Provided
- Towels Provided
- Ceiling Fans
- Washing Machine
- Local Guides/Maps
- Linens Provided
Phone / Internet
- Internet Access
- Mountain Views
- Satellite or cable TV
- DVD Player
- Stereo or CD player
- Balcony or terrace
- Outdoor Dining Area
- Pet friendly - no
- Smoking allowed - yes
- Suitable for children - yes
- Suitable for the elderly - ask
- Wheelchair accessible - yes
- 6000 square feet
What Past Guests Are Saying
Have you stayed here? Write a review
117 guest reviews
100% of guests would stay again
Mr and Mrs BrianThomas
outstanding resort and service
Zimbali Retreat made our honeymoon a most memorable and life-changing experience. From the moment we arrived late on as Sunday morning, we had the most wonderful time in this relaxing mountain side retreat. the staff and management were there to fill our every need and exceeded our expectations.Honestly the experience ruined the beach/tourist we had following this visit in Negril. We plan to re-visit Zimbali as early and as often as we can. you will not regret a minute of this experience
Hands Down the Best
This was a true vacation for my husband and I. Being close to nature, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life rejuvenated our spirit. Surprisingly, I was able to live and co-exist in this environment without concentrating on bugs or any other critters. Alicia and Mark were great!!! The staff was so attentive and customer service was superb. My best moments were lounging in the huge indoor/outdoor living space for hours watching the daily rain showers. I was so grateful to share this experience at this retreat.We will definitely visit again in the near future.
oak park, IL
the service was excellent. the room very clean with a veranda. good bed. the location was remote which was what i wanted. everything was excellent--the staff, the food, the room, the abiance.
Ann Arbor MI
Beyond My Expectations
I have never felt as welcome at any resort/all-inclusive as I did here. Friendly, caring owners and staff, exceptional meals, cozy and comfortable accommodations, the cooking class and Rasta lunch were exceptional. This is an experience to not pass by.
Ann Arbor, MI
Zimbali is an off the beaten path retreat that makes you feel li
The people at zimbali are amazingly friendly, unless you wear you shoes on the freshly cleaned floors. :) You can relax, have a drink at the bar, a nap on the hammock, or even some quiet time in the amazing Bamboo Cathedral. The food that the family prepares for you everyday is absolutely amazing and enough to satisfy almost any voracious appetite. I'll warn you, only visit Zimbali if you're looking to have an amazingly relaxing time, with amazing hiking, amazing people, and an amazing atmosphere. Go experience "Da Love in Da Pot" as Fire so eloquently explained.
A life changing experience
I found this place about a year ago on Living Social, not having known much about the place other than what is on the website. I don't know the words to use to describe this amazing place. It's energetically moving. You'll eat, sleep and feel like never before. Not only was this a vacation and a honeymoon for my husband and I, it was life changing. It provided an exact visualization of a life change we've been working on. Zimbali Retreats and all the people therr are so special. You'd be missing out on an extraordinary experience above and beyond what is expected on a trip away. Please all check it out!
Boca Raton fl
Read this, Zimbali not for all.
First and foremost Zimbali Retreats is not for everyone's liking.
I know some friends and family that would not enjoy what Zimbali has to offer, so ask yourself, what am I desiring?
If you want a 5 star pillow top bed, wait by a poolside and be pampered vacation with lots to do, this is not for you.
Zimbali offers a life altering experience. It is a retreat far away from it all. Far from the busy life, the stress, the materialism and the bright lights. It is, in essence, what some would call Shangri La. A jungle hideaway filled with the purity and natural wonder of Gaia. Workers will smile and treat you exactly like family, and the sound of the jungle will soothe your nights sleep.
Does that sound amazing to you? If so, let me tell you...
The charisma of this place is untouchable. When you wake up to have fresh fruits off the farm, and juices made by "Auntie D", you will see the sunlight start to peek over the mountain as you swing on a red, green and yellow hammock, and you will, say, I can't believe this is real life.
The food is untouchable. Simply because of it's purity. Unrefined, untouched, from farm to the table. Bursting with colors, and freshness, you can literally see the quality of the food. Mostly vegetarian, the chef will cater to you and make other items including chicken and fish. Don't go crazy, what "Chef O" makes is delicious and you won't want anything else.
On a side note, I suffer from IBS, which is a condition that gives me stomach pains. Generally, I eat healthy but still get symptoms daily. I'm here to tell you, I did not have a single symptom my entire stay at Zimbali. A true testament to what natural foods and less stress can do.
Go to Zimbali. Eat the food. Intake the purity and energy that this wonderful place offers. When you go, make sure you take the your of the mountains with "Rasta Fire". He has been living in the jungle 28 years, and what he offers is priceless.
Zimbali is a magical place, built with love and it shows.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
You Will Not Find a Kinder Group of People anywhere Else!
I have never actually stayed at the Zimbali Retreats. My experience comes from their remarkable customer service. I had booked a room and was all set to go when something unfortunate happened and I had to cancel my reservation. I have never met such an understanding group of people. They sympathized with my side and even though they had to go out of their way to help me book this trip, they graciously allowed me to last minute alter my plans.
It was my pleasure to interact with these people and I could not suggest a better place to stay if you are looking to meet some genuinely good humans. I look forward to meeting them in person in the future!
New Jersey USA
Excellent Getaway to Relax and be one with Nature
Zimbali was exactly what my wife and I needed to get away from the day to day stress, find each other and be one with nature. This is not your typical resort, but rather a little gem located in a Jamaican farming community. The people of the community are super friendly and the owners Mark and alecia could not be more hospitable. Both my wife and I are vegan and Chef O'Brian made sure we had a different vegan dish every meal, all which were spectacular. This is a very special place where living one with nature is of great importance. If you are looking for something outside the tourist traps, check out Zimbali.
Looking for Adventure
An adventure for open-minded and fun-loving people.
What an awesome adventure from start to finish. I was telling someone about it today and found this descriptive wording...it is like going to summer camp when you are a child, you don't know anyone and don't know what to expect but when it is time to leave you have great new friends, don't want to leave, and can't wait to return. We thank you both so much for the vision, the execution of the vision, and for letting us be a part of your family and friends. Once I returned home I really missed waking up and saying good morning to everyone.
Words and pictures just can't describe this experience. Delicious food, a beautiful retreat, a wonderful family and staff, this is an adventure not just a place to spend the night. We met new friends that will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Make sure to get the mud facial (men and women)! Take the uphill climb to see Fire. Sit on the porch and have coffee. Read a book on the sun-deck. Walk the farm. Ask Mark for paints if you are artsy or play guitar. There is so much to do without even leaving the retreat.
Can't wait to return. Mark arranged a stay at the beach for us and all of our transportation.
Cassie & Gregg
Paradise is waiting for you at Zimbali
A luxurious jungle retreat in a magical setting where you are pampered like Royalty. This place makes you feel relaxed as soon as you walk through it's gate, and they will take care of anything you could possibly need on vacation in Jamaica. And I mean "anything."
With rooms overlooking the jungle, fresh spring water, all natural coffee and cane sugar and a fresh fruit breakfast whenever you decide, mornings are just one perfect thing about Zimbali. When your not eating, there are the farm tours, giant hammocks, beautiful freshwater springs, and plenty of places to lounge, relax, and soak in the jungle. When it is time to eat (which is completely up to you) a five-star expert chef serves you organic fruits, veggies, meats and sauces all kinds of three course gourmet varieties.
We also recommend doing the cooking tour! It is a culinary adventure with the full experience of your food and the all natural ingredients from farm to plate.
The owners Mark and alicia are very good people that make you feel right at home. Everyone who works there is very personable, friendly, and you will know everyone by name in no time at all. Everyone who stays becomes family, as it is very secluded, away from all the craziness of tourist towns and beaches. Zimbali is a hidden paradise that we will definitely be returning to soon.
sea cliff ny
absolutely amazing, peaceful, gorgeous, delicious, perfect!
the Swainbanks are perfect hosts. if you're looking to get away, eat truly lovely, clean, beautiful foods, and take in nature and really decompress, this is the place. We fell in love with Jamaica and Zimbali.
Best vacation ever
We stayed at Zimbali for three nights and were wishing we had booked a longer trip from the moment we set foot on the property. Eggy picked us up from the airport, he was easy to find, friendly, and shared lots of little tidbits about the island over the course of our drive. Greeted warmly by alicia and Mark the moment pulled up, we were shown to our room. It was comfortable and private with the windows and doors open to let the mountain air in. The bed was comfortable, the shower was great, there was always fresh water from the spring ready for us. Car took good care of our room each day while we were out. They brought us fresh cucumber juice when we first arrived and it was delicious! The food can't be beat! Everyone was warm, friendly, and accommodating. And you can't get better than going up to the main porch to lay in a hammock and enjoy the view. It poured the first day we arrived and it was magical to sit up on the porch and listen to the rain. We spent the days taking their farm tour, the Rasta tour, going horseback riding on the beach, getting the most amazing massages ever, and lounging at their friend's beachside hotel in Negril. We also went to a Reggae bar with Mark one night. They set everything up for us, and in true Jamaican style nothing was ever rushed, we could just go with the flow. The trip was both relaxing and eye-opening and I would go back in a heartbeat.
West Palm Beach Florida
Heaven on earth
Where do I begin... The property is truly one of a kind and heaven on earth! Relaxing, peaceful, gorgeous, and the owners and staff are the kindest and most pleasant people! We feel in love with Jamaica the first time we visited a few years ago, however staying at Zimbali we have gained a whole new respect and love for the Island and the people! We experienced the real Jamaica through the eyes of alisha, Mark and their staff and we are most grateful to them for treating to this Incredible experience from the beginning to the end!!! We have made lifelong friends at Zimbali and we can't wait to go back and visit our extended family! It is truly a paradise for us and I would highly recommend the Rastafari into tour and the pelican bar In the middle of the ocean from Negrill. 100% authentic
Relaxing 4 Day Retreat!
I spent 4 days/3 nights at Zimbali Retreats. The experience could not have been nicer. The location was beautiful and secluded. There were no tacky touristy gimmicks. A friend and I spend one day at the beach and another hiking in the mountains. The food was amazing and the rooms were comfortable and clean. Would highly recommend this location.
Great place to relax, enjoy nature and meet new people.
I really enjoyed my time in zumbaton retreats. The food was incredible, chef O'brian knows what he's doing. The food is always fresh and natural. The rooms are always kept clean and the temperature is always nice. The establishment is magical, it is like a little paradise in the mountains. The tours are worth doing and there many things to do around the city.
amazing and absolutely relaxing
Cottages are really airy and roomy,beds really nice to sleep in.
Very peaceful environment for couples,singles(quite safe) or groups to just get together.
Food is fabulous,all made on premises from fresh local ingredients.
Hosts Mark and alecia are superb and Mark usually makes breakfast for anyone who needs to catch an early flight, because the regular staff is not there before 8a.M.
I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to escape daily pressures and just be one with nature.
I have not done anything,because i just wanted to relax,but there are different activities for everybody to participate if you wish to.
It was my very first time there,but undoubtedly not the last one.
As a matter of fact I am making plans for the next year already,ideally I would not mind going few times a year,but no such luck.
It is located in the rural country area in the hills and from Montego Bay airport about hour and a half drive.Transportation is provided,guests pay to a driver directly.
I cannot say enough about the place and the owners,very caring and gentle people.
I cannot wait to go back to relax and just to enjoy the peacefulness and tranquility of the place .
Don't go to Zimbali unless you are ready to move to Jamaica :)
Alicia & Mark:
I wanted to take a moment and thank you both for a really wonderful visit. We were both so overwhelmed by the kindness and graciousness of you, your staff, and the Jamaican people. We feel like we came as tourists and left as family. We are already looking forward to our next visit. Please give our best to Dee, Car, O'Brian, Boo, Fod, Gigi, Fire and Eggy- what lovely people!
Brooks & Juli
Refreshingly fragrant, lush, beautiful and experiential
Mark and alecia are the perfect hosts, as america meets Jamaica! This surprisingly well-built retreat in the Canaan mountains, and the seaside resort, give you the best of both worlds of Jamaica: island living off the land (literally) and warm Caribbean sea water, along with the wisdom of long-held traditions of healing and enlightenment.
If you're looking to slow down your time clock, rejuvenate your mind, body and soul...then this is the place to be!
From trekking up the mountains for a breathtaking view of the western island and having fresh soup and fresh drinking water the land provides on the way, to basking in the sun, inhaling the flora, and enjoying your own private beach...not to mention the outstanding food that's prepared daily by an award-winning (at least he should be!) personal chef...I haven't had an experience like this in years.
In fact, I went there to write my first movie script. And it made a difference. Uncluttered my mind. Got clear on what I needed to do. It gave me the impetus and excitement to enjoy the process. And writer I am not.
I've already been back again. And I'll be returning a third time!
Zimbali - the retreat and the staff - were incredible. They made my family (husband and toddler) feel welcome and at home. The food was incredible, the accommodations comfortable, and the experience divine. For people with any knowledge of herbalism, skip Bongo Roach. But, the Rasta Tour is a must, and any treatment with Stacey will be worthwhile.
A magical and unforgettable place for Jaxson's first Christmas!!
We were coming to Jamaica for our friends wedding and after spotting Zimbali online thought it would be nice to spend a few days in the mountains with the bride and groom before the wedding. It blew my high expectations out of the water! Mark, Alecia, Eggy and the entire staff were amazing. We felt like we were staying with family. We were so thankful for the genuine love and respect that everyone gave our 11 mth old son, making our time truly special. I have travelled all over the world and only found a precious few places like Zimbali. By the time we left we were completely chilled out and ready for our beach vacation in Negril. We look forward to coming back to see our new friends in the(hopefully)not too distant future.
Zimbali brought me back to life.
I went to Zimbali to heal. The pain of losing loved ones, my husband, sisters & mother, had really taken its toll one. My heart & spirit were badly wounded. I saw Zimbali, on line, & decided to go. Zimbali, Mark, Alecia, Eggy, Dennis, all the rest of the staff were instant family & friends. The morning walks in the community were exhilarating. The beauty was amazing, the food fresh and delicious, the people were welcoming. I did, indeed, leave Zimbali, feeling like part of the world again, hopeful & happy, for the first time in a long time. I will visit again, as soon, and as often as possible. Do I recommend it...I hate to see it be booked solid and not have room for me, but, yes I recommend it for anyone who enjoys beauty, great food, good conversation, good exercise, laid back, relaxing atmosphere, and the best sleep. I did not want to leave, in fact, I can't wait to visit again. Zimbali will watch me grow old.
Ramya and Prabhu
A vacation like none other!
I honestly didn't know what I was signing up for when I made reservations at the Zimbali Retreats for our Thanksgiving break. The eco-friendly, serene, farm living with a touch of Rasta culture sounds amazing, but we all know how places like that can turn out!To add to my worries, we were traveling with a toddler!
I never should have worried. Zimbali is truly a paradise on earth. We wanted a break to get away from our busy frantic high-strung lives and we got exactly what we wanted and more! My daughter had such a great time too!
Mark and alicia were fabulous hosts and made us feel like we were visiting relatives for the n-th time, not a resort in the middle of the Jamaican mountians for the first time. And the hospitality is not restricted to just Mark and alicia, every single person around the farm and the retreat made us feel so much at home! Some of my most treasured moments from the trip include countless hours of humming-bird watching with Mark, evening chit-chats with alicia, and relaxing on the front porch with the dogs and the cats..
I could go on and on about the fantastic fresh and tasty food we had for every meal and the endless supply of fresh fruit juices that we downed between those meals. I am salivating at just the thought!
Every activity on the agenda is a must-do: Deep discussions and a very informative jungle tour with Bongo Roach, one of a kind meal time with Rasta Fire, an eye opening farm tour, a deep tissue massage by Stacey that takes you to another universe! fabulous:)
I cannot recommend Zimbali retreats enough. I don't believe in going back to the same vacation spot twice but Zimbali Retreats is a definite exception. I'll go back again.. and again..
There's no place like home!
My girlfriend discovered Zimbali Retreat when she was searching online for somewhere affordable in Jamaica for us to ring the New Year in together. It had been 11 years since I'd been home to Jamaica and, aside from stopping there on a cruise, she had never been. Zimbali Retreat was the perfect introduction to Jamaica for Herat and was an excellent return to the nation of my birth! Unlike the mega resorts Jamaica is famous for, Zimbali Retreats offers travelers a far more intimate, home-like Jamaican experience. The service is top-notch and everyone is super friendly. The staff is quite accommodating and provide personalized service to the guests (i.e. the chef will cook meals with the dietary restrictions of each guest). Despite being "off the grid" one never feels isolated from the world they may have left. Zimbali Retreat showcases the beauty of Jamaica I'm familiar with and gave my girlfriend a true exposure to the Jamaican way of life. I'm proud to be a Jamaican and am glad to have spent a week at the Zimbali Retreat. We can't wait to return!!!
Kitty Hawk, NC
Paradise on the Mountain!
Most definitely coming back!! The hosts are the most wonderful people. The staff is like your family. The food was top notch and so healthy! Comfortable rooms and spacious. Blue mountain coffee in the morning while looking out into the jungle is an experience you have to try!! Rastah farm tour was wonderful as was the day trip to Negril. Massage was unbelievable!!! Great place for people looking to relax and enjoy nature and a slow pace of life. If your looking for something commercial you won't find it here. This place is one of a kind! Mark and alecia are the best!!
Fort Lauderdale, FL
This is the only way to experience Jamaica!
From the beginning to the end, Zimbali represented ease, love, nature and life. The check-in process was filled with ease and love. We were immediately welcomed and encouraged to relax and enjoy the ambiance. The meals were made with such love and professionalism. Chef Dennis, a self-made culinary specialist, made every meal with love and care. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, meals appeared at our table, delivered by Ms. D or Car accompanied with hand-made juices and water, beautifully arranged on the plate and tasting savory and satisfying. Every piece of furniture on the property, including the bedrooms, were made from wood. The place is beautifully rustic with a splash of luxury. The bedroom and bathroom are beautiful and modern. There's so much comfort on the property. There's a common area with a television with direct tv, radio, an elaborate library, cds, dvds and the most amazing healthy snacks. We visited a real Rasta living in the mountains and completely off the grid of internet, television and other community type luxuries. He made us a real Ital meal complete with soy like meat, banana, yam, sweet potato and dumpling. It different and yummy. I believe the best part of my experience was meeting Mark and alecia and enjoying their hospitality and family. They are so open with their lives and their love for each other, their community and family. They know how to make their guests feel welcomed and transform them into family. This has been the best vacation we've ever had.
One of the highlights of our trip through Jamaica
Staying at Zimbali was one of the highlights of our backpacking trip through Jamaica. We highly recommend Zimbali and would encourage people to stay here at the start of their travels through Jamaica as Zimbali introduces you very well to Jamaica and the amazing people that call it home. The staff at Zimbali were incredible, they are what make Zimbali so exceptional. The location is beautiful and the food is some of the best food we had in Jamaica. The rooms are lovely and the coffee that you have every morning while sitting out on the porch overlooking the beautiful property was delicious. They take care of you very well at Zimbali so if you're looking to relax, it will most definitely happen. We will definitely return.
Absolutely amazing and enlightening experience.
It felt like I knew everyone for years. It was like staying at a family members house that you love. It was so comfortable and everyone made sure you had a blast and whatever you needed. It is hard to find the words to completely express my excitement about Zimbali
Retreat for the soul
For the first time I returned from a vacation trip and didn't feel the need to recover from my trip.
Terrific time in the hills of Jamaica!
My husband and I were fortunate to experience Jamaican life at Zimbali Retreats. It was a totally positive experience for my first time in Jamaica. Mark and alecia and staff were very attentive to the guests and couldn't do enough for us. There was wonderful attention to detail and I can't think of a thing that I would change. The Jamaican food was a real treat and I spent a lot time hanging around the chef picking up pointers. There is a real emphasis on healthy eating and healthy living at Zimbali Retreats.
Staying at Zimbali Retreat felt as through I was visiting with my favorite relatives. We had a safe driver, top chief, and meticulous staff at this little place of peace. We were a group of 6 with age range of 6- 61 yrs for 5days and we all felt it was a perfect vacation for us. Mark and alecia planned us an unforgettable 10th wedding renewal that was done with love and respect! Anyone who's looking to enjoy what God has made, this retreat has amplified his gift with gratitude and love. Go with no expectation and leave with... :)
Best Vacation Ever!!!
This was my first trip to Jamaica and the purpose of the vacation was my sister's wedding, which was hosted my Zimbali retreats. I got there after the rest of the party and was welcomed with opened arms by Mark and his wife. I really felt at home during my stay. The staff was so friendly and did everything to make my family and I comfortable. The food prepared was always fresh and delicious! Majority of the food came from the farm at Zimbali and absolutely refreshing. The rooms were nice and decorately nicely. I can't think of one negative about this place. I will truly miss the staff and am already making plans to go back and stay there again. If I sat here and typed all the amazing things I got to do while there, this review would go on forever. Mark, Alecia, and their staff are like a second family for me. I would recommend this place to anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and become one with nature. :) Zimbali Retreats Rock!!!
New Orleans, LA
Words cannot express.
Staying at the Zimbali Retreat should be a law period. The service that I received was priceless. Thanks to Eggy, Ms Dee, Kirah, Brother Fudd, Chef Bull, Clarence the Carpenter and Mr. Mac and of course Mark and alecia. The cabins are very relaxing and the property takes your breath away. I am already in the planning stages of my next visit. Again Thank you sooo much for the very best vacation I have ever had. Bless
Bryan & Kristy
The Milky Way
All good things up the mountain
Great staff, great food, awesome property! Just go check it out if you want to stray away from tourism traps and if you want day trips to Negril or wherever just speak up and you'll be accomadated! Bring your appetite, the food is abundant and amazing!! I was sad to leave the mountain, and now that it's getting cold in Chicago I'd rather be working with Pud up the mountian! Good times, go!
Our First Trip To Jamaica
Since my husband and I had never been to Jamaica, we decided to stay at Zimbali (mountains) for a few days and at a resort in Negril (beach) for a few days. We enjoyed our time at Zimbali so much that we did not want to go to the beach resort. Zimbali was very relaxing, the accommodations were comfortable and clean. I did not get any mosquito bites until we went to the beach resort. The people that work at Zimbali are outstanding. Mark and alicia have done an outstanding job with the retreat and with making people feel comfortable. The food was fresh and tasted great. We did the Rasta tour and met Fire and had a memorable experience. The best thing that we liked about Zimbali was spending time at the retreat with Mark and alicia. We learned a lot about Jamaica and the Jamaican way of life. It is always good to learn about other cultures. We have been telling our friends and will definitely return to Zimbali!
We had a great time at zimbali. They offer the best food in jamaica!! Thanks mark and alicia!
Wonderful off the beaten path vacation!
We found Zimbali online, and it sounded right up our alley. This was our first trip to Jamaica, and we were looking for someplace quiet, relaxing, where we could experience the local lifestyle (not the crowded, touristy scene!). We found all that and more at Zimbali.
We enjoy growing some of our own food here, so staying on a farm and eating traditional Jamaican cuisine prepared with fresh fruits and veggies from the farm sounded great too. And it was! The food was amazing, every meal prepared with local, fresh ingredients.
Mark and alecia were such gracious hosts, so knowledgable about the Jamaican culture, farming, health, etc. We really enjoyed their company as well as the other people that worked there and the other guests.
The accommodations were comfortable and very clean. I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of bugs and critters. The main house and kitchen are beautiful-completely open and airy, very inviting and homey/cozy. The staff and your surroundings will definitely make you feel at home.
If you are looking for the crazy party vacation, this is not your spot. But if you want off the grid, peaceful, and relaxing (no cell phone reception!!), I would highly recommend! We loved Zimbali and will definitely be back.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
i really want to thank alecia and Mark and their incredibly warm staff for their expertise, their humour, their care, their conversation, and for a memorable experience that i will never forget.
we really got a true taste of the culture of Jamaica. there is history and there is change here, our hosts told us stories and introduced us to local people. they were so open and generous and enlightened. they told us about the coolest events happening in the city, what to enjoy and how to stay safe. they know taxi drivers who are also excellent guides.
when we wanted to stay in and chill for a night, we were well entertained - Alecia gave us a dance class one night that was so fun, she had us all laughing on the floor and doing our best to follow her steps. there is a cute bar there to mingle with other travellers, but there is also lots of open space to take a breather or meditate. we did yoga every morning on the deck, in the freshest air, looking out over the rolling green hills!
and we ate such delicious food - expertly prepared with the freshest organic produce from their farm. the chef and his team prepared the best food, anywhere else we went just didn't measure up. Bravo! the rooms are comfortable, clean, and scenic. the way the villa is structured is so adorable, you have to go there just to see the design of the place. when we arrived we were like, "wow! this is so magical!"
myself, i don't travel much, so i was surely a real tricky customer - but the staff was aware of this and took expert care. like i think: nowhere else in the world would i meet such kind hearted and grounded and fun people. they are such a lovely group at Zimbali, i felt truly like a special guest in their home.
the Zimbali experience gave me an appreciation for the people and the land and the culture of Jamaica that will be with me forever. thank you Zimbali, for inspiring our travel with your genius and your beauty :o)
New York, New York
Vegan Paradise in Jamaica
I really needed a vacation but I was afraid to travel because I'm on a vegan/gluten-free diet for medical reasons. I was concerned I wouldn't be able to enjoy myself anywhere without worrying about food all the time. Then my boyfriend found Zimbali Retreat online, and when I corresponded with Mark and alecia by email, they told me they could absolutely accommodate me, which was so great!
When we arrived, we were overwhelmed by the natural beauty all around Zimbali, the friendliness of Mark and alecia and their staff, and the adorable animals that roamed the property. Our room was clean and comfortable with a gorgeous balcony overlooking the surrounding acreage. We had an excellent time hiking into the mountains, touring the farm, and splashing around in the crystal turquoise water of the nearby beaches. The highlight of the trip, however, was the food! Even with my dietary restrictions, chef Vincent served up the most delicious, fresh, creative, extraordinary meals I've ever had on any vacation ever. I was so astonished by what he was able to do for me that I spent lots of time in the kitchen while he prepared our meals, taking careful notes so I could bring some of his culinary wisdom home with me. He was super patient and helpful, turning his day-to-day job at the farm into a special cooking class just for me every day of my stay. It was a one-of-a-kind experience to learn the ins and outs of an organic Jamaican kitchen, and definitely something I couldn't have done at a big, impersonal resort.
I'm so grateful for all I learned and experienced at Zimbali and look forward to returning someday!
T & T, Viar-McKown
Virginia Beach, VA
An adventure, with peace, perspectives on life and simplicity
The service was excellent, fresh juice, fruit, salad, everything, but my favorite luxury for me was the Blue Mountain coffee and the fresh natural sugar that was in your room. I loved them so much that I bought 5lbs. of the coffee and some pouches of sugar at the airport! I do not need Starbucks anymore thanks to the delicious, bada** coffee. The retreat was very laid back, comfortable, and natural. You felt like you wanted to be part of their family and visit them all the time, just good people. We felt very safe during our entire stay. I loved and respected that Zimbali Retreat was 100% Solar Powered. I only stayed 5 days, but wished I had stayed for 7. My boyfriend had the time of his life and wants to go back again...he has been telling all of his co-workers and friends and I as well. It was an adventure and it gave me a reminder of how to not to let the little things in life stress you out. I believe we all need to be reminded of this. Next time we go, I would probably choose a cooler time to go if there is such a time. The Retreat also reminded us to eat healthier, and that natural is the preferred food your body needs. If you want to really experience Jamaica, this place in the mountains is absolutely the best way to go and I am normally into beaches. The owner Mark is a genious by the way :)
Tony & Jackie
Surpassed all Expectations & Then Some
Amazing, is the best word to describe our vacation. Me and my fiancé had the best time anyone could ever ask for. We were treated with so much kindness it was almost overwhelming. Our first 2 nights at The Legend on Little Bay were incredible. The owners, Mike & Kiesha were so hospitable, it was a breath of fresh air. The views and food were incredible, as well as the tours, land crabbing, kayaking, hiking to the bat cave & touring Marley's property. Our last night on the Mountain side was a completely different vibe but even more incredible with breath taking views and an ambiance that could relax the tensest person. Mark & Alecia were just as hospitable, if not more. Again, the food was incredible, all organic from the 7 acre farm that surrounded our villa. The sound of the running stream in the morning is serine. All the farm tours we took were outstanding and are experiences me and fiancé will cherish for the rest of our lives. There are not enough words to describe how amazing this trip really was, and if I continued to try, I would be doing you an injustice, this is truly a paradise getaway every good person deserves. We will definitely be back soon & for much longer.
We never return to the same place twice - we might have to recon
We searched a long time for the right place to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. We didn't want to do the touristy thing. We wanted to find somewhere unique, quiet, and charming. We wanted to see the real Jamaica, meet and learn from Jamaicans, not tourists, and just relax. Zimbali Retreats allowed us to do that. We loved the fresh, healthy meals including the unusual fruits, the quiet time on the porch watching the animals sunning themselves , visiting with hosts Mark and alecia in the evenings, drinking fresh coconut milk while touring the farm, and watching talented local artisans do their thing. Spending the day on the mountain with Fire was especially memorable and something we doubt very many visitors to the island typically have the honor of experiencing. During our stay, we learned so much about Jamaica, its history, the Rastafarian movement, the people, and the amazing food and language.
We live to travel and are always look for unique places to visit. Now we can add Zimbali Retreats to the top of our list. Typically we never return to a vacation spot because there are just so many other places in the world to discover, but we may have to rethink that rule when it comes to Zimbali. What a treasure they have there.
Rick & Adri
Exactly what we needed!
My husband and I stayed at Zimbali for only 2 days, but they were amazing! Mark & Alicia are great hosts, they make you feel as if you were friends for years.
It was a mind opening experience and I recommend it to anybody that needs to get away from it all and unplug. You get to connect with nature, extremely relaxing exactly what we needed! Cliff gave us the farm tour it was lots of fun and had the best mangos.
The food was the best! Chef knows how to make some delicious meals.
The cabin was very clean and comfortable - great decor too.
We actually are already throwing our pennies in the jar, cant wait to go back and stay longer.
Eric and Stefanie
Amazing in all ways!
The entire stay was a dream come true! Clean, comfortable room with an amazing view of the farm from the back patio. All meals were exquisitely prepared by Chef Winston from farm-fresh ingredients. The property is absolutely stunning; the farm tour was one of the highlights - fresh mangos right from the tree! So much to say, but overall a+++!
An authentic Jamaican adventure
I was not sure what to expect when I booked this 4 day package at Zimbali. I wanted something more "real," different and off the beaten path. Zimbali gave me an authentic experience, a real introduction to the Jamaican culture, food and jungle.
Zimbali is nestled in the lush mountains of Westmoreland, far off the tourist path. We felt like we were lodging with friends at their home. It is very quaint, there were no more then 10 guests at any point during our stay. The service you receive is very personalized. The owners, Alicia and Mark are hands on, helping us plan our days with more wonderful non-tourist trap activities. The staff and owners are very welcoming and accommodating. George is a wonderful cook, serving us fresh and tasty fruits, juices and meals. The experience was truly memorable.
Special Tip: ask Mark or alicia to help you book you a massage or hair braiding with Connie! She is amazing.
Zimbali Retreats is a perfect escape from the hussle and bussle back home and even, a serene escape from the rest of Jamaica. Located in Little London, away from any city, Zimbali offered beautiful scenery, delicious, organic meals (vegetarian and vegan friendly), and fun little adventures (Rasta and farm tours). The staff was welcoming and friendly, the cabins were clean and you really couldn't beat the view from the balcony.
All in all we had a wonderful stay at Zimbali and would definitely recommend it as a destination for someone who wants to get away from it all and enjoy nature!
Unforgettable experience in the mountains
Our family spent 4 nights at the Zimbali mountain retreat. It was exactly what we had imagined -- a peaceful and remote setting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Mark and alicia were wonderful hosts who made us feel like part of their family, and the rest of their staff were equally kind and gracious. We have a 7-year-old son with autism who was welcomed by everyone with open arms, and felt right at home. Our 4-year-old daughter loved exploring the farm and quickly became friends with Mark and alicia's daughter. The food prepared by Chef George was amazing, all fresh and mostly from the farm. The tours and activities were fantastic opportunities to meet real Jamaican people and learn about their rich culture. I recommend Zimbali retreat to anyone seeking the opportunity to experience a piece of real Jamaica, far from the cookie-cutter all-inclusive resorts. A final note: we arranged for transportation from Montego Bay airport directly through Zimbali, and we were glad we did. Their driver Shorty was waiting for us as we exited the airport, and we avoided the hassle of negotiating for a taxi. Since the retreat is deep in the mountains about 1.5 hours from the airport, if you take a regular taxi your driver may get lost.
I can't wait to go back!
We just got back from our honeymoon at Zimbali. Every aspect of our stay at Zimbali was outstanding. From the moment you arrive, you feel welcomed like an old friend. Honestly, I can't say enough good things about Mark and alecia and all of the staff at Zimbali. Food is very important to us and the food was excellent. Everything is extremely fresh and most of the ingredients come straight from the farm. We stayed 8 nights and took a few trips to Negril to spend the day at the beach and Rick's Cafe; however, our best memories are just relaxing at Zimbali. I have traveled quite a bit and this is the only time that a trip was so awesome that I actually felt compelled to write a review.
Nice, relaxing adventure
Mark and alicia were great hosts. I went with 3 other friends and it was very relaxing. The staff was very friendly and the other guests were great. The dining and common area were very condusive to meeting the other quests. If you are looking for privacy, this is not the place to choose. We went down to Negril for the beach and the sunset (I would definately recommend this). We also went down to YL falls and the zip lining. It is a very relaxing place with limited internet (which is good) and we did not watch TV at all! One of the most restful vacations I have taken.
We all had a marvelous time!!!
Everyone in our travel group had a wonderful time! The experience was more than we ever expected. Each staff member was so accommodating and we were well cared for. The food? Excellent! The energy from everyone was strictly uplifting. We cannot thank Mark and alecia enough. They made our vacation special. We will definitely return to Zimbali. I plan on bringing my grandchildren. I think they would really enjoy meeting the Swainbank family.
This was one of our best vacations. The food was fresh and flavorful. It was always made from the veggies that were harvested last night. The staff - Mama Shorty, Karr and Chef George went out of the way to make us feel comfortable. Mark and alecia were wonderful hosts and we enjoyed spending time with them. My 3 year old also loved it very much. It was so amazing that we realized for the first time that time had actually slowed down.
I would recommend this for anyone who is looking to get away from the daily grind and truly relax.
Staying at Zimbali Retreats is like no other vacation experience we have had. If you want to experience true Jamaican culture and hospitality, then Zimbali is the only way to go. They only way you can experience as much as we did is to stay with a family who lives there, which is pretty much what Zimbali is. There is a real family feel and you are welcomed right into the family. My wife was 4 months pregnant and was sick every week up to this trip so needless to say, food was a concern going into it. The food was remarkable and my wife was not sick one day while we were there (amazingly, sick again once we got back to the us - must be something to home grown natural foods!). I am a pretty picky meat/potato eater as well and I absolutely loved the fresh meals that Chef George prepared for us each day (including accomidating my wife's somewhat restricted diet). There is something for everyone there as well - from ultimate relaxation to incredible adventures. Mark, Alicia and the rest of the Zimbali family are outstanding and we will remember this trip for a lifetime.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Best vacation Ever!
I had the greatest time at Zimbali Retreats. Everyone was wonderful! Mark and alecia along with their staff treat you like gold.
Best experience for someone who is busy and never takes time for themselves.
I went to Jamaica years ago and did the resort thing and said I would never go back. I experienced Jamaica and Zimbali retreats and can not wait to go back.
Thanks again to everyone at Zimbali! See you next year!
JMarcuson & JMarcuson
We visited Zimbali at the end of February, 2012. We knew we wanted something relaxing but unique for our honeymoon. From the moment we set foot on the property, we knew we had made the right choice. We arrived after a very winding and scenic cab ride from the Mo Bay airport with Eggy, who pointed out all the sights along the way for us. We had barely stepped out of the car when Clifford ushered our bags into our villa just as Mark was coming up the steps from the farm. Mark greeted us as if we were old friends returning home and it instantly felt that way. We were soon joined by alicia, Chef George and Mama Shorty, two other vacationing couples, and the famously friendly resident dogs Ginger, Rosie, Tweetie and Lassie.
Over the next few days we went to bed when we were tired and got up without alarm clocks. Sitting on the back porch of our villa with our own pot of Blue Mountain coffee became an important ritual instantly. We learned about and ate fresh food grown right on the farm. Usually two bites into a meal everyone would be shouting over one another to compliment George on his amazing cooking. We drank so many delicious different combinations of fresh-squeezed juices that it is now a part of our daily morning routine.
From the retreat we easily visited Little Bay and Negril. We hiked further up the mountain to a Rasta farm and tasted traditional Ital cooking outdoors. There was a moment, lying in a hammock at the farm while Rasta Fire and Rasta Bongo Roach were discussing no less than peace and love that I thought, ' this must be the essence of Jamaica' enjoying people, contemplating all that the world can give you, and all that you must give the world in return.
We also drank a lot of Red Stripe.
We will be going back!
Jen & Jason Marcuson
South Orange, NJ
A Great Time
Mark and alicia were wonderful hosts. We were treated like family! The food was delicious and plentiful, and the whole staff was eager to help. I stayed for 4 days, and I am definitely planning to return.
Zimbali is up in the mountains, so there are no tourists around. It's a much more 'real' experience than staying by the beach. If you do need to go to the beach, Mark and alicia are more than willing to have a driver accommodate you.
An Eden among new found friends
We stayed for fives days at Zimbali, and found ourselves wishing our trip could have been open-ended. Mark and alicia were welcoming and gracious hosts, making us feel relaxed and taken care of from the moment we arrived. The staff was incredible, as was the food, the accommodations, the excursion day trips, and the stunningly beautiful location. Their retreat was a perfect blend of comfort and amenities and reconnection with nature. The effect was one of coming home - and what a beautiful home it was! We had a life-changing time at Zimbali, and will definitely stay there again if we return to Jamaica!
Peaceful, Relaxing Mountain Getaway
My husband and I had a wonderful stay at Zimbali. Mark and alecia were great hosts and everyone on staff was helpful and courteous. Meals were made from local sources- a lot from Zimbali's own farm. We were always excited to try the new juices George (chef) would make for each meal and the fact that you can choose between a meat dish or vegetarian was ideal for us. The food was home-cooked fresh and tasty, 1000x better than a standard resort buffet. Take the tour up to see Fire (Rastaman) and get the farm tour. We also went to the private beach listed on the Zimbali site for the day- beautiful and quiet! Exactly how we wanted out vacation to be. If you want a real and laid back Jamaican experience, this is the place to go.
Must love being off the grid--and being vigilant about costs
Zimbali Retreats was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Mark is a great host and has built a very special place with a loving attention to detail. It is very isolated, beautiful and tranquil. The lodge is small, very clean, and very unique. Our room was quite dark but the common space is relaxing and airy. The food was tasty but portions were on the small side. The owner, Mark, is extraordinarily warm and welcoming. However, we and other guests felt that when Mark was not present that there was an absence of trustworthiness and transparency relating to the pricing of individual experiences and services. This lack of trust was most unfortunate and cast a negative shadow on our overall experience. We fervently hope that Mark is successful in fulfilling his lovely vision for Zimbali, as it is indeed a very special place.
Service was wonderful, food was amazing! Rooms were very clean and nice. Situated in the Mountains, it's the perfect spot to relax and escape reality. Very warm atmosphere, like staying at a good friends house!
Enjoyed every minute: surrounded by beautiful mountains, closed by beach great fresh food maid daily and great hospitality.
Great people at the retreat ready to assist you with any request so you can relax and enjoy.
Will and Francine
A mountain retreat with rest and lots of native activities (beac
Mark and alicia were great hosts with a great vision for providing us with a winter getaway in the beautiful Jamaican mountains, away from the tourist scene and pesky native panhandlers.
It was a relatively inexpensive alternative to the swanky beach clubs with their armed guards and enclosed fortresses. If you're going south to get warm but want more than just sun and sand (although that's available) Zimbali is a great choice.
They have daily adventures of your choice. George, the cook, prepared great meals primarily from fruits and veggies grown right there on the farm. If you happen to over-indulge in something, as we did, Ms. Shorty will whip up a tea of ginger or garlic to cure you.
We met some very nice couples from Dallas, Boston and Toronto, shared meals and belly laughs around the bar in the evening.
We definitely hope to go back.
A Very Special Place
My wife and I had an absolutely wonderful time at Zimbali. It is a truly unique, natural place with lush organic gardens, beautiful rooms and gorgeous, local woodcrafted dining patios, all run by supremely loving & kind people . The exquisitely prepared locavore meals by master chef George were always a treat. Hiking and connecting with the local people was a treasured experience. Staying at Zimbali was like being with your most dear family and friends in paradise. Many thanks for all the nurturing, ease, safety and one love.
New York, USA
Mind opening, Healthy inviorment, Positive Energies, With a tast
I stayed at Zimbali Retreats on 1/2012. I am always on the lookout of new and exciting vacation, but most places offer the very standards, boring, tasteless accommodations.
One day as I opened My emails from one of the tour websites, I found Zimbali Retreats. The pictures and the information about this place, made me very curious, but what really got me going were the amazing reviews about this place. I thought to myself, they must be all fake!! how come everyone has such great things to say about Zimbali Retreats??
I was also looking for nature, peaceful & "mind cleaning" place. After reading and seeing the photos, I was convinced to go and check it out for my self. As soon as I got there, I knew I aimed right!! Mark - a self made man, smart, ambitious, full of insight - a great person to talk to. Alicia - A Beautiful women, Energetic, Driven, And a wonderful mom!! You guys did it right! The amazing staff!! I was Lucky!!! I was surrounded by Love and piece, and amazing healthy Delicious food!! allow yourself to sit and enjoy the food, any where you wish, they will be happy to set you anywhere you want. I traveled with a friend who is 24 years old. he never eats anything Natural only "junk food". He thought that all the growing things are giving him allergies...
This was the first time that I saw him not only eating Salads,& fruits he also finished the entire plate every time!!! (and there was no allergic reaction - all in his mind).
I just want to warn any one - You will miss this place allot!!! I know I do. Thanks again for giving to me exactly what I needed.
Love to all! Ronit
a true retreat
The people are super friendly and the food was excellent. The property is very quiet and beautiful. Great place to just relax and enjoy nature. (be sure to bring bug repellent). The beach is a short ride away. You get the best of both worlds.
My fiance and I stayed there recently (in January '12) and had a great time. Mark and alicia are fantastic hosts and along with the rest of the staff take care of you like family. My typical vacation is at a beach resort so this was "out of the box" for me. There was as much down time as one wanted or if one wanted you could take a car to a waterfall on another part of the island (like we did). I still remeber the taste of the spring water that we drank - delicious!
Off grid, laid back and pampered to the max
Zimbali Retreats is a great way to experience Jamaica. Get way off the tourist track and get close to the land. We had a very special time and are already looking forward to our return visit.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Experience the real Jamaica
Stayed at Zimbali during a recent yoga retreat. Love the food, the people and the atmosphere. Highly recommended if you are looking for a unique vacation that helps you forget about the daily hustle and bustle. I will definitely go back again.
family oriented, healing, and friendly
I took my parents and daughter down here, and we didn't have to worry about anything. Everybody was so sweet and friendly, Chef is amazing, my daughter relaxed, my parents hiked up a mountain, I healed my knees. I recommend this trip for anyone looking to get away and relax in safety and peace, but who still want to see the country and have some adventures. I have definitely changed my diet and workout routine as a result of this trip, and I have revised my philosophy of life. I can definitely say that I'm a better person for having taken this trip. Thanks Mark and alecia!
Aloke & Christine
It's true, this is the place you want to stay...believe the hype
We have to add our voice to the others here who are telling you that Zimbali is something special that you don't want to miss.
We wanted to go to the Rebel Salute concert, 2.5 hours away in Port Kaiser. Mark and alicia hooked us up with tickets, a car&driver; (thanks Eggy!), and even a guide to make sure we didn't do anything stupid (thanks Fud!).
We're picky, hard-to-please eaters... Vegans to be exact. Chef, Miss Shorty, and Car kept us filled with deliscious food from the moment we got there to the moment we left. To be honest, we were skeptical of the "Rasta Tour" when we first read about it... but it ended up being one of the highlights of our trip.
Zimbali is a true refuge from high frequency electromagnetic radiation. They do not use wi-fi! They do use a cell-phone based internet connection, but it is usually turned off when not in use. We were able to have great, restful sleep here.
Great people with honest hospitality, great food with honest flavor and good health, great location away from the tourist madness of Negril, great place to go for couples or families. Stay at Zimbali ... and relax ... really.
Felt like home away from home
We spent 5 days at Zimbali Retreats prior to Christmas 2011. It was a wonderful and relaxing vacation! Mark and alecia were so warm and inviting...it really felt like we were staying as guests in their home. The entire staff at Zimbali was accommodating and friendly, and the food was Excellent--everything was so fresh and healthy and delicious (shout out to Chef George!). Definitely go on the Rasta farm tour...even my 6-year-old loved it. All in all it was a great vacation and we can't wait to go back!
Lorene & Wai Gen
Like the vacation home you've always wanted.
We were looking for a tropical vacation that was fun, but required no planning or thinking on our part. This was the perfect place.
Hiking, beach and tours were arranged with ease - it was just a matter of picking which activity we wanted each day.
Our room was clean and perfect with a great view of coconut, palm and fruit trees. Chef George cooked everything from scratch - all dietary restrictions are accommodated.
Mark and alecia were fantastic and entertaining hosts. Mama Shorty, Cari, Ford and the rest of the staff felt like family. We were sad to bid everyone, and Zimbali, farewell.
Pack bug spray or thin pants to avoid getting bitten - there's a reason you won't see many Jamaicans in shorts!
A real Jamaican experience...
We just got back from Zimbali and cannot wait to return! The whole experience was set in an intimate and peaceful environment that allowed for total tranquility. It has been a long while since we have come back from a vacation and feel refreshed and revitalized- Zimbali was exactly that kind of vacation. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there- whether it was indulging in delicious food prepared by Chef George, taking in our surroundings in the mountains on our walks, to hanging out with our hosts, Mark and alicia, and the rest of the wonderful staff- we really felt as if we experienced Jamaica the way it should truly be experienced. This was not a typical touristy resort- which is exactly why we loved it. We felt like family here- and can't wait to come back to revisit with the friends we have made at Zimbali.
Outside the box resort creates a memorable and relaxing stay.
After a scenic drive through the mountainside, arriving at Zimabali was a welcome respite from everyday life back home. With dinner waiting for us, the employees and owners of Zimbali welcomed us with open arms (literally) as if we were cousins who hadn't seen each other in several years.
We were given the "anything goes, no worries, no plans" speech and easily settled in to our new way of life for the next 5 days.
Our stay consisted of a farm tour, rasta tour, dedicated chef, and all the fresh farm food you could eat. While not "gourmet", what you will find is that the kitchen is able to use the natural flavors and simple ingredients available to them with great success.
We quickly learned to love this family consisting of Mark, Alicia, Soul, and Elijah. They were always welcoming, quick with a good story, and knowledgeable about all things Jamaica.
We were encouraged to eat with other guests, and enjoy the company of those around us. I believe we've made some good friends that we will continue to keep in touch with.
If you like all inclusive resorts with long buffet lines, drunk college kids, sub par food, and people constantly trying to sell you something, turn the other direction and stay away from Zimbali.
If you like relaxation, real food from real farmers, and unique lifetime experiences, turn your compass south towards Zimbali.
If your looking for your average run of the mill vacation that consists of drunken lazy days on a beach littered with fat tourists oiled up and half naked, than this is not the place for you. If your looking for the true Jamaican experience filled with raw beauty and adventure, then you will love Zimbali Retreats... We rolled up the mountain at dusk my first night and it was so dark that you could barley see the road in front of your face, but when dawn broke in the morning, the most beautiful sights I've ever seen in my life began to unfold in front of my eyes like a perfect dream! Not only this, but you have the freedom to leave the house and walk around and chat with the locals, swim in historical oasis's, and innocently embrace the pure beauty of the Jamaican country side. Mark and Lisa are both awesome and beautiful souls and I spent endless hours enjoying their company and conversation. My stay was only 3 days and I had three meals a day and each one was better than the next. Most of the food we ate was local and out of my element, but if your open to new and delicious cuisine, you will love the food that their 5 star cook prepares. All in all, my short time at Zimbali Retreat was too short and it was a sad goodbye. I give them a !0 out of 10 and I look forward to my return!
A Mountaintop Experience!
It was a last minute getaway for me and my teenage daughter. Jamaica wasn't really the place we were looking to go, but the reviews of Zimbali Mountain Retreat pulled us in and it ended up being one of the best vacations we have ever had. I really can't say enough good things about this wonderful escape. We stayed 4 nights and 5 days in the two bedroomed villa, set in the spectacular Canaan Mountains a short ride from Negril. We really felt like we had found a piece of paradise. Mark and alicia were wonderful hosts giving as much space or attention as we needed. The food was plentiful, healthy and delicious, prepared by a chef who took great delight in telling us all about how to prepare some of the wonderful soups, curries, juices and dressings. Clifford took us through the farm, expertly slicing and dicing with his machete and on one day we went up the mountain with him to a farm where we were served a delicious Ital meal by a smiling Rasta named Fire.One minute there was a boiling pot, the next, a feast on a china plate, drinking the fresh spring water we had collected on the way. Far from the race, traffic,noise of DC, just a peaceful mountain and people you feel like you had known forever. My teenager, who is often glued to Facebook or texting( hopefully she doesn't read FlipKey!) told me on the flight home that it was the best vacation she had ever had.Put this place on your Bucket List and I promise you won't be disappointed.
What a Great Decision!
I really didn't know what to expect, only that I wanted something a little different and off the beaten path. I wanted to see and experience a little more of Jamaica than 7 mile beach in Negril. I was very pleasantly surprised. My accommodations were modern and the main house was beautiful! Amazing views of the estate greeted me every morning for breakfast which always included hot cups of Blue Mountain coffee. The meals were prepared by a professional chief and tasted amazing. Mark took me on a private walk / tour of the farm and spelled out his and alecia's vision. I met some pretty cool people who were also guests at the retreat and enjoyed my evenings at the bar drinking Zimbali's signature cocktail the Dark & Stormy while hanging with other guests and the owners. I felt relaxed and refreshed when I left. I plan on going back with my wife and 2 other high school friends this May to celebrate our 45th birthdays and won't hesitate to recommend this place to others! Check it out!
Trip of a Lifetime
Zimbali retreats is heaven on Earth in a idyllic piece of paradise. Nestled in the lush mountains far off the tourist trap path, this is truly a retreat. The amenities were lovely and it felt more like staying with friends at their home than at a hotel or resort. The staff became family and treated us like royalty but also real people. The food was amazing, the experiences unlike the typical Jamaican resort, and the fun we had truly memorable.
The time of my life in heaven on earth
I got back from Zimbali retreats 2 weeks ago. I was looking for a relaxing time off, a break from the stress of work and the city, in a safe spot for a woman travelling alone. I found the Zimbali retreats browsing the web and when I read the reviews I knew this was exactly the kind of spot I was looking for. I contacted Mark and alecia to get more information and immediately felt comforted that it was safe and fine for me to go on this adventure by myself.
I really had the best vacation ever at Zimbali. My host were so welcoming and attentive to my confort and I was treated like family as soon as I arrived.
I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place, and after 4 days surrounded by the special spirit and vibes, I felt like my body, mind and soul were clean and recharged.
I will go back to Zimbali, sooner than later, as I feel I found my heaven of earth, off the beaten track.
I absolutely recommend Zimbali, whether you are travelling alone or with your family. Everything: the landscape, the vibes, the food, and especially the people make it an unforgettable experience.
Thank you Zimbaly team and a big hug to my little angel ;-)
Zimbali Retreat was Paradise...the way adam and Eve lived!!
Zimbali Retreat is a beautiful resort not because of the wonderful landscape but the care and kindness of the owners Mark and alicia. Every moment there was relaxing and natural. The food was fantastic...made with love and fresh. The accommadation was comfortable...like we could live there. And the hiking, beach time, and massage was luxurious. Zimbali retreat took us away from the negative busy-ness of life in NY to the Irie serene time of natural Jamaica. We loved every moment and will come again!!
Worthy of the return trip
We visited Zimbali this past February and as soon as it started to get cold again we decided that a return to this oasis was in order.
Our driver Eggy, a true professional, was waiting for us when we got to Mo Bay airport. The drive through Westmoreland Parish is beautiful. Open the windows ... take in Jamaica.
When we arrived our bags were handled promptly by Fudd and before we knew it we were relaxing at the "Reggae Bar" with a cold drink. We stayed in the same clean, well appointed cabin as on our previous trip. Mark and alecia are actually in the process of building a new equally beautiful cabin with a balcony overlooking the valley which we hope to stay in during our next trip. The main house is stunning with a large front veranda/bar and a covered living/dining area looking over the farm and valley. Our Chef Shorty was wonderful and we truly enjoyed her authentic Jamaican cooking. The fresh fruit picked daily on the farm was incredible.
During our stay we made some return trips to our favorite spots ... Bob's swimming hole, Ishanti's art studio, a hike to Fire's Bush as well as a trip to Whoopie's in west end Negril to catch the sunset. Fantastic.
Our return trip to Zimbali did not disappoint. It was like visiting old friends or family. The warmth of the staff and the "vibe" of the property are unmatched. If you like getting off the beaten path while still enjoying all the amenities, this is the place.
Best vacation we've had - experience real Rasta Jamaica
We had an amazing and truly authentic Jamaican experience at Zimbali Retreats.
We're a young couple who were looking to chill, take in the scenery, enjoy lush greenery and not feel like just another tourist at a cookie-cutter resort.
Mark, Alecia and their wonderful team give have all the comforts of an ultimate B&B; while set in the achingly beautiful Canaan mountain. You can see the stars, smell the night Jasmine, sip a Red Stripe and listen to the night (or alecia's masterful DJ skills) - what could be better than that?
The food! Can we talk about the cooking? Miss Shorty gave me the best meals of my life - all the fruits and vegetables coming from right from their farm. (I keep craving the homemade sorrel juice and fried plantains - heaven!).
But its the people that really made this trip so special. Climbing the mountain and spending the day with real Rastas like Bongo Roach and Fire was one of those experiences you can't put into words. And Mark and alecia were the perfect hosts - we were the only guests and made to feel so welcome and at home.
We can't wait to go back and bring friends so they can share the awesome adventure of Zimbali.
A Warm Welcome In The Mountains
The key to staying at Zimbali is authentic experience. On other vacations I've always felt like I was slightly removed from the people. At Zimbali you become part of a warm and loving rastafarian community. Mark and alecia are your gracious hosts, always ready with a smile and a nice refreshing drink. Hanging out at the reggae bar in the evening was always a warm and convivial experience. If you like reggae music Zimbali is the perfect place because you are immersed in it from the start. The food as cooked by Miss Shorty was a delight, so natural and bursting with flavour. If you want lobster they have lobster and plenty else besides. You can also hike into the mountains to meet Fiyah. See the hut he has built at the top of the mountain and watch him gather up a delicious Ital meal from scratch. It was fascinating to watch and learn about these people who live off the land and always have a warm welcoming smile. Rastafarians laugh a lot and have a wonderful gentle sense of humor. At night on the terrace you can get an invigorating massage while listening to the sounds of the jungle. Back at the reggae bar alecia can give you a crash course in what rastafarianism is all about. I stayed five days and I really wish I had longer. I can't recommend Zimbali enough. One small word of warning is to wear long pants in the evening. The mosquitos love new flesh.
Experience of a lifetime!
My boyfriend and I just returned from our trip to Zimbali Retreats. It was unlike any vacation I have ever taken. The location is absolutely beautiful and truely "off the grid" as they say. It allows you to detatch from reality a bit to renew and rejuvenate.
The food was amazing and I truely felt the power of what eating healthy, organic meals has.
Mark and alecia were amazing people and they really make you feel as if you are staying with friends. There has been so much love and care put into their retreat from the design of the cottages to the authentic, genuine Jamaican experiences that you are allowed as their guest. What a privilege and a pleasure it was to stay at Zimbali! Thank you again to all of you!
Our stay at Zimbali was a feast of all our senses!
From the minute we turned off the main road to make our way up to Zimbali we knew we had chosen a special place.Mark,Alecia and everyone we were blessed to meet were warm,interesting and real people.The main lodge is beautifully done in native woods with many unique art pieces and family treasures used to decorate.The back of the lodge is open air to give you a feeling of being in a tree house with lots of space to enjoy the views.Alecia is excellent in Ital cooking.Everything was very fresh and we were never hungry!We stayed in the cottage which was calming and comfortable.From the window you could see the morning sunlight on the mountains,the dew on the jungle-truly amazing.We will be going back to Zimbali again and we highly encourage people who love nature in a peaceful well thought out enviroment to go as well!For me it was a true blessing and for BoBo it was "Marvelous"-Thanks Mark,Alecia and all!Lori and BoBo
We had an awesome, real, adventurous fun unforgettable experienc
We had a blast! Mark and alicia were wonderful gracious hosts, the staff was professional and accommodating and the physical space was delightful. The entire experience was very real, we met lots of Jamaicans, hardly any tourists and had adventures way off the beaten path. We highly recommend Zimbali retreats to anyone who wants a great, healthy real-Jamaican experience.
Four content souls
One day, this past summer, my 23-year-old son came across the Zimbali website and he just knew intuitively that we needed to go there. One week later our family of four was taking in the wonder of this paradise retreat. From the moment we arrived, Mark and alecia felt like long lost soul-friends that we did not need to get to know. The location is breath-taking and we just couldn't get enough of the oxygen-rich fresh air and the delicious spring water. It was as if our bodies were coming more fully alive with each moment. Our time there was a perfect blend of numerous activites to choose from and the freedom to do them at our own pace. We had amazing experiences in the bounty of nature and in communing with the local wise-folk. More than anything we slowed down enough to hear our own hearts. The lodge we stayed in was uniqely designed, beautifully decorated and invited the lush surroundings inside.The meals were amazing and truly healing of body and mind. Our many activities included splasing in waterfalls, a serene river cool-down, an authentic rastafarian ital lunch in nature, trips to the legendary beaches of Montego Bay and much more. Our daughter turned 21 while we were there and it is a birthday she will never forget! Mark and alecia have created an opportunity for people to drop into a vibrant, real-life community withour feeling like a tourist. Local farmers,healers,and artists form a cast of characters that embrace you and reveal to you the heart of Jamaica. Hurrican Irene "forced" us to spend two extra days with this amazing couple and cemented our friendships forever. We returned home changed,deeply satisfied and are still drawing upon the well of our experiences months later. We will be going back! Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 10/20/2011
It was our deepest pleasure to host your family. The beauty of you and your husband is reflected perfectly in your lovely children...you have a truly incredible and highly conscious family and I count the days until we see you again. Blessed Love...Alicia
A real Jamaican Dream
Got back from Zimbali two weeks ago. This was quite an experience! It's not for everybody, but it was perfect for my wife and I.
Before I get into my trip, I want to note that people looking for a more conventional Caribbean vacation -- you know, the kind with 24 hour service, bland american food, beach towels, tiki torches, and the latest Danielle Steele novel -- will probably not enjoy this place.
Zimbali is located up in the mountains, about a 20 minute drive from the pristine 7 mile beach in Negril. The least enjoyable part of this vacation is a fairly rugged 90 minute drive to and from the airport. You will arrive at Zimbali surrounded by beautiful, tropical country and extremely wonderful locals. You are immersed in the real Jamaica. Not everyone sports dreds here, but the Rastafarian spirit is alive all around you.
We enjoyed *delicious* food cooked exclusively by a very talented chef who always has fresh, organic, local ingredients to work with. The tour of the Zimbali farm was a lot of fun. Need to wear long pants for this one, the guide was hacking down grass with his trusty machete to make a path for us. The machete doubled as a pruning knife to help us sample all the local fruits and vegetables they grew -- many I had never heard of.
The Rasta Farm tour was great, too. We hiked up about 20 minutes to near the top of a mountain, at a farming camp to meet with a true Rasta gentleman who goes by the name of Fire. He cooked an amazing vegetarian stew for us and was great company. Very wise individual.
The day trip to Negril was incredible. The beaches are absolutely pristine. A word of warning, though: there's a lot of locals there that spend all day trying to sell you marijuana and/or useless trinkets. It may not feel like you're being nice, but you have to ignore them. They're very different from the locals we met up in the mountains!
This was an amazing adventure for us.
I have discovered heaven on earth
I am a old soul..I am Orca..and as I push thru these years--I have just about seen and heard everything. (so I thought!)
I was lucky enough or perhaps it was meant to be..I came upon a ad for a place called Zimbali--in Jamaica.I had never heard the name before in my life--but when I saw it I knew it to be the perfect place for me!
The conversations that I had with Mark and alicea the owners immediately set me at easy. First, I was traveling alone and second as I stated above--I am a old Orca..I was not looking for nightlife and party--I was looking for peace,quiet, rejuvenation and relaxation.
I found this and more at the Seaside Cottage associated with Zimbali Retreats called the cottage.
I needed the sea...
Seek and you shall find my fellow travelers-because it is at Zimbali Resorts---where I was able to swim every single day whether morning or late in the day in this most wonderful bay which is proteacted by a reef.
Mike and Kiesha (the owners) and their staff want all that you need..whether that be the type of soda you desire or a surprise pancake breakfast be arranged for you.They cater to your every wish.
Now,no worry if you are a young couple or young single still wanting to party--as Negril is only a 15- 20 minute ride. Plus you can arrange for the driver to show you around on the way. See all the sites of Negril --amd surrounding areas in the safety and care of their excellent drivers.
If not---just stay and relax viewing the birds the Pelicans and all the other flora and fauna that grace this property--bananna trees , Guinupp trees amongst others and vast numbers of flowering trees. is a paradise in itself to behold.
Try ackee and salt fish, dumplings the Jamaician National Dish for dining on the hand built porch which is always just perfect for it.Amaze yourself with the fruits sliced to perfection that accompany your meals!
Walk down past flowering trees to the sand beach for a day-or dive right in off the wall.
Our trip was a full time adventure!
The entire staff made us seem part of the family. If you go to a resort, you are waited on because they have to. Mark's staff seem to love their jobs and really care about the guest's. Chef is a chef. Karr was a blessing to my wife helping her locate objects she tends to misplace. Lisa was great with the hydrotherapy massage, Lance was super with his massage. Clifford helped my wife shop which I had to do. Shorty our driver was not a mere driver but a concierge on wheels. The kids were enjoyable. We just felt we were or five days part of this family and lived as Jamaicans do and not as tourists do.Many Thanks
Simply Stunning! The Place to Rejuvenate your Weary Soul!
I came to Jamaica from australia to meet up with friends - and I found a 'home' and rejuvenation at Zimbali.
Time slowed for me in Jamaica, another world from mine, compellingly vibrant and magical, and Zimbali is your 'home in the forest'.
You will surely fall in love with the loving workmanship of the home itself, and deep soul relaxation of the cosy resort, family atmosphere and fusion meals; lovingly prepared daily from the home grown organic farm garden.
The charming hosts are there to entertain you with intellectual conversation, or revelry at the bar, or they will leave you in peace and quiet - it's your choice.
Thank you Mark, Alicia and Winston! I look forward to seeing you again soon!
New Orleans, Louisiana
Zimbali is like reading a book that you never want to finish.
Staying at Zimbali is like reading a book that is so good that you never want to finish, or watching an inspirational movie you hope won't end. In planning a special wedding anniversary trip nothing seemed just right until we saw the enticing Zimbali website and read visitors' reviews. Our recent experience there lived up to everything promised and so much more.
Imagine a place that is a meditation in and of itself. Imagine 360 degree views of tropical beauty in a mountain retreat, every window, every angle offering an incredible photo to capture. Carefully placed artifacts, natural exposed wood structures and colors complement not invade the environment. Fresh and natural food with meals prepared by Chef Winston with fruits and vegetables grown on the farm. And with rainwater for drinking, bathing and solar power for energy, Zimbali is a self-sufficient universe, a microcosm of how we could save our planet.
Yet, the tangilbe beauty is not all there is. At Zimbali you are immersed in Jamaican culture. The true spirit of Zimbali is its people: owners Mark, Alecia, their children, Chef Winston, Cara and also Clifford who works the land and helped us gather, coconuts, bananas and other fruits. Lisa's relaxing hydrotherapy in the crystal waters of the river soars above any plastic, plaster spa experience. Our visit with Bongo, a herbalist, was both interesting and enlightening. We'll remember the singing voices, the gentle laughter and the sharing of life experences. No need to get to know them. You know them as soon as you meet them. The people at Zimbali are all dynamic, yet spiritual, energetic yet serene. These sensations and motivations traveled back home with us and we trust that they will last. Mark and alecia have created an unrivaled experience for those who are fortunate enough to discover it.
Hopefully there are other such magical places on earth. But, we found ours at Zimbali and can't wait to return.
I honestly can say I feel like I have a home in Jamaica now...
That icky touristy feeling that sometimes keeps people from traveling is no where to be found at Zimbali. From the moment you arrive, you are treated like family. Mark and alicia welcome you with open arms. Those who end up at Zimbali are there for something really special. You are there to absorb, to heal, to receive, and most uniquely, to contribute.
I woke up every morning ready for another one of Chef Winston's delicious meals. Eating mainly things grown on their own farm, I could feel my body detoxing and letting go of the chemicals that seem unavoidable in my home environment, Washington DC. And it was always nice to go ask Clifford for a fresh coconut from the tree!
After candid, extensive talks with Mark and alicia about Jamaican culture, we were sent out to go experience it for ourselves. Walking to the waterfall, hiking up to a real Rasta's bush, spending a day on the beautiful beaches of Negril, receiving facials and hydrotherapy in the water... all activities which are gracefully woven into a week of pure relaxation and freedom.
The lush green all around reminded me of my family's homeland, Kerala India. Against this backdrop, my soul was free to explore, relax, and enjoy.
Mark, Alicia, Sol, Elijah, Fudd, Chef, Carr, miss and love you guys! You know I'll be back and we can't wait for you to come visit us in DC or Kerela!
New Orleans, La
A Great Experience!!!
My stay was incredible, It was more than I truly expected. Mark and Lisa were incredible host, and their mission for the retreat was truly seen. Me and my girlfriends had to opportunity to have our own chef cook every meal from fresh foods from the farm on the property. Not only did we eat healthy , but we had to opportunity to do yoga and go hiking. Most of my vacation end in me gaining weight, but I left lighter than I expected to!!! Now that was awesome. I also felt like I obtained a body, mind, and soul cleansing when I left. I would highly recommend this retreat for anyone who needs a place that they can be at peace, it also a place to proposed to your love one, or even renew your vows. Thanks so much Mark and alecia for the experience.
A home away from home...
My time at Zimbali Retreats in Negril, Jamaica was amazing!!! I traveled with a group of friends and had an experience of a lifetime. The resort itself is beautiful and the accomodations are very comfortable. I personally enjoyed the upstairs deck where we lounged around and had all of our meals. It had a beautiful view of the property and the mountains. Mark and alecia and their staff are just like family. It felt like home and not a "resort". If you are looking for a true Jamaican experience, this is the place to stay. Cheif Winston prepares authentic Jamaican meals, of a large variety that leave you wondering what to eat when you get back home. The food was great!!! Carr provides excellent, polite and friendly service. And the driver "Shorty" knows every spot (and everyone) in Negril. He took very good care of us when we were outside of the Retreat. The hike to the spring and waterfall were the highlight of the trip for everyone. It was something we had all never experienced before. Alecia's uncle was a very good guide as well. If you are looking to relax on your trip to Jamaica, the peaceful mountains and the hammock at the Zimbali Retreat are exactly what you need. I can't wait to visit again!! Miss you Mark and alecia!!
Katie & Cory
A Home away from Home!
We felt like Zimbali Retreats was the closest we have ever felt to Utopia! Thank you for an amazing stay Mark, Alicia, and all of Zimbali's family and friends. We are so grateful and honored to be Zimbali's first engagement! Cory and I felt like we were family and had known everybody for years. It is very special to have experienced Zimbali which helped us escape from our busy lives and learn how to concentrate on our health and wellness, as well as make us stronger people on our journeys! It is beyond words what alicia and Mark have opened up to others at Zimbali. Travelers truly learn and experience the real Jamaica by staying off the beaten path and meeting geniune hardworking people that truly love and know their country, as well as their roots. Thanks Zimbali and love to you all. We shall see you again soon...
Writing this review won't do any justice to the love I experienced while staying at Zimbali Retreat. I have traveled the world and nothing compares to the personal touch that alicia, Mark, Chef Winston, Karr, "Unc”(Clifford) and Shorty render. They are now my family and I will forever be grateful for this experience and journey I have began with them. This is only the beginning. Mark and alicia's love for their village and having a holistic, environmentally conscious existence inspires and changes lives! Every conversation, every meal, every beverage, every hike was transformed into a powerful display of love. This was by far the best vacation ever! Leaving Zimbali Retreat and returning home feels as if I am detached from reality. I will be back! Alicia and Mark from the bottom of my soul...Thank you! <3
Re-connecting with nature
Zimbali retreats offers the visitor a home from home. Here you will find a relaxed atmosphere that allows you to gently unwind. I found my senses enlivened by natures bounty of colours and textures and by the delicious foods and drinks that were offered. The villa is beautifully designed with respect for the natural surrounding. Mark and alecia have a beautiful energy and enthusiasm that is both inspiring and welcoming.
My family and I spent a day with Mark and alecia, touring their organic farm, learning about alecia's Rasta ancestry and Mark's many interests. Their knowledge of the fruits and crops in Jamaica was amazing. Their retreat is located in a secluded mountain spot and they have built it accordingly. They have a rainwater harvesting system, water filtration system and solar photovoltaic system for electricity. If not for the wireless internet service, they would be truly off the grid, but in as nice a vacation home as you would ever ask for. As is true of many of the Jamaican people, Mark and alecia and their staff made us feel welcome and our visit a relxaing,fun time for my family. Thanks, Mark and alecia! Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 06/23/2011
Hey Bob... What a great family! Please tell Casandra to start a blog so we can follow her exciting year in Korea working with the kids. Bless to you all :)...Mark
New York, NY
Seek and ye shall find!
I feel in love with a Jamaica I never knew existed! I have been to Jamaica twice before staying at cookie cutter resorts, having cooking cutter experiences that could very well be mimic any place where there's a beach. I was searching for a place to travel safely alone as a women, a place to be still and quiet the mind, a place to work on my personal projects that so often get pushed to the side by the everyday. Not only did I find all of the above, but I also received more than I knew I was looking for. Everyone at Zimbali made me feel like an extended part of the family and I came away from my journey with the feeling of having made friends for life, that is a feeling you just don't get from a vacation! Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 06/23/2011
Thank you so much for coming Tade'. Having you here was very inspirational, You are a woman of so many talents and I know we will meet again. Bless to you and send us a copy of your first book for our library :)
Yes! There is Paradise on Earth.. & it's called Zimbali Retreats
I came to Zimbali Retreats for some relaxation and rejuvenation, but I left with so much more! I'm a 5 time cancer survivor and after the owners were aware of this, they became so focused on helping me, teaching me, introducing me to the things I need to stay healthy and cancer free. They prepared soursap tea for me and taught me of the importance of the leaves for cancer patients, as well as making fresh soursap juice. They made sure my plate was full of cancer fighting foods and educated me on why to eat certain foods and what not to eat. I toured their organic farm, I went on walks in the mountains, I ate fresh coconut from their trees...
Look, I've been to plenty of the biggest all inclusive resorts in Jamaica, including Sandals, The Palladium, Beaches, Rui, etc. and I've traveled all across the world (UK, Asia, Africa, Dubai, Australia, etc) staying in serviced apartments, the Ritz Carlton, and some of the top rated tropical resorts. In fact, right now I'm writing this post from the boutique apartment I'm staying in, in New Zealand! But, in all my travels and all the places I've stayed in, nothing beats the personal touch and honest care you get at Zimbali. (And I've been back 2 more times since my first trip!)
You can see the thank you video I did for Mark and Alecia on their your tube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/zimbaliretreats
Thank you once again to Mark & Alecia. I appreciate all you've done for me and I can't recommend Zimbali highly enough!
I was introduced to Zimbali Retreats by Alrick Allen of www.YourJamaicanTourGuide.com and I would like to send a special thank you to him for the recommendation! Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 06/02/2011
Alicia- You already know how we feel about you; our home is your home our heart is your heart. Zimbali is meant to be a personal experience for all who come- its what your looking for that you will find and the more you let go is the more you take away. The love that you have returned to us is the energy that keeps us going and we thank you for all the energy you have given us. Come home soon :) Blessed love...Alecia
Jersey City, NJ
Amazing is an understatement
I don't have words enough to describe our anniversary stay in Zimbali with Mark, Alicia and the other staff members. Each one of them is unique and made our stay with them so special and memorable. Mark and Clifford are the two people who left a lasting impression on our minds. No pretenses, very friendly. We'll always cherish our stay at the retreat and hope to come back soon. Zimabli felt like home? Nah! I would say it felt better than home. Miss Zimbali and its people. Miss Jamaica.
a time and space tht another should chance.don't be in a heated rush it's more than a glance.
be still and know it's "nature's show.
one on one or together we were,
is one love,"there",heaven on earth.
thank you,and we'll see you again.
Portland, ME USA
A Little Piece of Heaven on Earth
From the moment I floated through the exquisite front door and met our hosts Mark and alecia - I knew it was a place that I could feel totally at home. I was so in need of time away from all the distractions of real life in america and the hospitality and energy of this magical place was just what I needed. Even though quite remote and off the grid - the shower was yummy hot and the food was exquisite. Their resident chef that prepared the details of all our meals is someone I wished I could have taken home with me. We had fresh produce cut from the farm, sampled teas and other fare that was a totally new experience. I even enjoyed our walks around the property, a swim in the river and just hanging out with a great book in the hammock. I'd love to return with some musical friends and use all those instruments hanging about. If you're looking to really wind down and have a memorable soul to soul experience - I highly recommend this place! I will forever be filled up with gratitude for this sacred experience that has made a forever impression upon my heart. Namaste my new Friends - You have truly captured retreat Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 04/27/2011
Gail- my only regret is that we could not have talked for days more- thank you for the light you brought to our humble Retreat- Bless
Our stay at Zimbali was everything we hoped it would be and more. I knew within the first 15 minutes of being there that it was the best vacation I had ever been on. The mountains were beautiful and relaxing. I loved the farm and will miss Chef Winston. Mark and alecia were great, and Fudd was very helpful with the tours. The beach stay had plenty to offer as well. I really enjoyed the snorkeling and the tour to Bob Marley's house. Mike and Keisha were very accommodating at the beach property. I will definately be going back to Zimbali Retreats.
Best Vacation Of Our Lives!!!
I feel a bit cheesy to say this but my stay at Zimbali Retreats was a life changing experience. I am so happy that my first trip to Jamaica was experienced under the canopy of Zimbali rather than some touristy over commercialized property.Staying there, I feel we experienced the true Jamaica and we didn't have to sacrifice any luxuries to do so.
The property was absolutely stunning. The Mountain-side property overlooked a lush farm Valley (Zimbali Farms) And our chef cooked us the most amazing traditional Jamaican meals using the organic produce from the properties farm. The retreat had the most relaxing vibe and an amazing library! All of the staff felt like family and were always eager to help. We also got to meet with local people and experience Jamaican life first hand, Not as a tourist.
The seaside property was just as marvelous. It was so nice to be able to wake up in the morning, step outside our cottage and have the ocean at our footsteps. No crowds, just you and the ocean. They had snorkels and kayaks there for you to take full advantage of your surroundings as well.
I fell in love with Zimbali and my experience there couldn't have been better. We wish we would have booked more time there and are already planning for our next trip.
White Oak, NC
Wow, what a vacation
This place is great. Mark, Alecia, Mike, and Keisha were all wonderful. The mountains were gorgeous and so relaxing. You really get to meet some genuine, interesting people, without being hassled. I spent hours reading in a hammock on the back deck while my girlfriend sunbathed on a platform in the extensive garden. Chef Winston was terrific, making us delicious food for every meal. Likewise, at the beach, Ms. Patsy was very helpful in fulfilling all of our culinary needs. Fudd was great, our guide and all around go-to guy. I think the most simple thing to say about Zimbali Retreats is that I'm definitely going back, and I'm hoping to bring several of my friends so they can experience it as well. Thank you guys so much for affecting my life in such a positive way and for giving me an experience that I'll remember for the rest of my life.
Budd Patterson Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 04/16/2011
Hey Bud! Thank you very much for your kind words. What a treat it was to have 2 archeologists come and experience our Retreat. When we built this Retreat it was like the movie- Field of Dreams- "if you build it they will come"...and you did...and WE thank you for bringing your energy and knowledge to us...Bless up and come back soon :)
Everything I wanted and more..a true dream
I just wanted to thank you, Alecia, Mike, Keisha, Fudd, Chef Winston, and everyone else at Zimbali for my amazing stay. I had the time of my life and can't tell you how much I appreciate the opportunities you all provided for me. I knew Zimbali would be an ideal place for me and couldn't help but feel that I was meant to visit your retreat. Seeing your success in balancing personal, spiritual, and professional growth makes me feel empowered as I hope to achieve the same in my own life. I was also particularly fascinated with Zimbali's eco living and my stay inspired me to build my own sustainable home in the future.
Please extend my thanks to Fudd, Mike and Deke for taking the time to show the wonderful life and culture Jamaica has to offer. Without all of your efforts I would never have had the opportunity for all my unique experiences in Jamaica. For me everything about Zimbali was an incredible dream. I felt so welcome and at home and am very grateful for all your hospitality and kindness. I felt so much like a welcome part of the Zimbali family and nothing like a tourist renting a room.
I'm sure that you don't need my affirmation to realize it, but you have created something truly magical and lasting in Zimbali. On my trip back I spoke with many other visitors to Jamaica and I have a strong idea that none of them, even those who had visited Jamaica and Negril many times, had an experience as unique and special as mine. My only (selfish, and perhaps unsupported) fear in Zimbali's growth is that it could lose some of the intangible majesty that comes from being a smaller concern. However, I'm confident that everyone at Zimbali will ensure it retains its unique and special environment.
Thank you so much again for providing such a wonderful experience and I hope to visit Jamaica and Zimbali again before I begin work in September. Until next time, all the best.
Most Beautiful Wedding
Zimbali was everything we expected and more. The entire Zimbali family treated us like family with warmth and kindness, Mark made our wedding as stress free as one could hope for and the wedding itself was absolutely wonderful!! The seaside location was spectacular and Mike, Keisha, and Patsy took such good care of us. We truly had the trip of our lives. Thank you so much for an unforgettable experience, we will be back soon!
Anne and Peter
Blue Ridge Mt VA
Authentic Jamaican lifestyle in first class comfort.
I should start by saying that my wife was very apprehensive when I told her I booked us a couple of nights on a farm up in the hills. I on the other hand was excited for a little adventure into the unknown. We have been to Negril many times but usually stay on the cliffs and just hang out and relax most of the time so this was a nice change. The drive up to Zimbali takes you thru small villages, into 10 ft high cane fields, over a stream or 2 so you can imagine why my wife was kicking me from the back seat. So when we arrived to find this incredible beautifully built main house with all the amentities of a 5 star B&B; we both instantly relaxed. The small cottage that we stayed in had a rustic charm but perfectly setup with a queen bed, hot rain water shower, and a pitcher of fresh spring water. It is so nice a cool up there with no humidity we slept like babies with no aC. They are totally solar and rain water sufficient, but there is a computer and TV if you felt the need of those modern conveniences.The Blue Mt coffee, with maker, and complementary appletons in the room was an extra nice touch. The main house is really impressive, it has a huge back deck that looks over the farm. We hiked to the top and could see Sav while eating fresh mangos off the tree. The food was incredible fresh and organic. The people in and around the farm are what will leave the biggest impression on us. They welcomed us into their family for a short time and guininely made us feel very comfortable outside of our usual element. The experience is totally what you want it to be. One day my wife stayed in the hammock and read a book while i hiked to the top of the mt. with local bush farmers! One night we stayed up late hanging with Mark and alecia some neighbors and the other night we went to bed shortly after sunset. There is no set schedule but many things to do. If you are at all intrigued by this type of retreat I would highly recommend a visit to this little piece of paradise.
robin marie saulnier
alexandria, new hampshire
we felt more at home than our on home!! Lol
i had been to negril, jamaica 21 years earlier and stayed in a little wooden cabin on 7 mile beach. i am a widow and wanted to take the kids over but we are not those types who like to stay in big commercial, probably owned by capitalist americans hotels. i searched for weeks on line to find the perfect place and it paid off! the zimbali was perfect for uz. the service and friendliness was impeccable and beyond compare to anywhere i've ever stayed[and we have done some traveling] mark and alecia made sure everything was perfect and they have a totally cracker jack crew working for them! there was absolutely no pressure or stress, we never had to wait for anything to eat, the food was fantastic and plentiful, the house we stayed at was built with style and coolness[i didn't want to leave:(]and what mostly attracted the kids and i was not just the location[away from the touristy part]but the way it is eco friendly with solar power and the gardens and everything homegrown right there. also...the cleanliness was perfect, inside and out. i have to mention a special thanks to the security/tourguide, clifford, he taught my son lots of things and took special care of uz and my kids[12 and 13] being without a dad for 8 years now he made them feel very safe and secure so far from home. tears poured from my eyes the day we left cause it was like leaving family. tears now as i type...thanks to all of you for memories that will be with uz forever.
Lee and Tim Laing
Eden Mills, Ontario
Off the beaten path...the real Jamaica.
Zimbali Retreat was a treasure to discover. This mountain retreat is for the lover of nature and all things calm and beautiful. Our hosts went above and beyond to make sure that our stay was memorable. Zimbali is a quiet retreat in the hills...you make your own fun. Our chef, Winston made some terrific meals with the farm grown produce. Ask for the curried shrimp. Excellent.
Clifford, the farmer will take you on a walking tour of the plantings and knock down a coconut for you to enjoy.
A casual place, with some walking trails, and a guide to show you the local swimming hole, artist carving jewellery, etc.
A true "retreat"
This is an amazing retreat and really is one of a kind. On the way there, it was up in the hills away from any type of "city", so a true secluded mountain retreat. Mark and alecia were so welcoming and nice, we really enjoyed spending time with them.
The food was very unique because you can actually "pick" your food from the farm, then have it cooked. If you are looking for a place to detox from your regular environment, a place to relax and enjoy nature, a place to think, or just a place to get away, this is where you want to go.
It is absolutely beautiful and relaxing.
In fact, I couldn't stop talking about how amazing it was, that my sister will be visiting and staying for a week next month :-) Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 02/25/2011
Hello Lorette, It was so great to meet you and I can't wait to have your sister come stay with us. I already have the feeling that this is going to be a wonderful experience : ) - Alecia
splendid mountain retreat
We are three friends in our late twenties/early thirties who stayed at the mountain villa for 3 days and 2 nights and we were very satisfied with our stay with Mark.
- disconnect completely from our fast-paced life, leave the city behind and reconnect with nature
- cultural immersion, contact with rastas and other locals
- friendly, approachable, talkative staff
- great conversations around the fire
- lovely home-cooked meals, prepared with care by Ms angela using organic fruits and vegetables produced on the farm
- exceptionnal views of the mountainside
- confortable stay (the villa is brand new so the mattresses are comfy and of good quality and the bathroom is modern)
- possibility to go trekking and for a river swim
- easy transfer from Montego Bay airport, but price not included in price of room
- summary: relaxing, relaxing, relaxing
- not suited to every type of traveller (if you like all-inclusive resorts, this is not for you)
- mosquitos (maybe they'll put up some mosquito netting for the beds but in the meantime, Alecia is there with some aloe vera) Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 02/03/2011
I'm so glad you appreciated the atmosphere of Zimbali Mountain Retreats- it was a pleasure having you. I truly enjoyed the conversation and watching you all slowly disconnect from the world.
I agree with you that this is not for everyone- one must have a slight thirst for adventure and a willingness to experience something new.
When peace and serenity surround you, the more you let go is the more you take away.
Alecia says hello and we look forward to seeing you again soon!
Paradise in the mountains
"I found my soul's retreat at Zimbali. I found friends, rejuvenation- and peace. Lush, rich gardens. Deep rooted history and traditions. Magic and mystique. You wanna know why people live in Jamaica? Visit Zimbali for just one week and you'll completely understand".
December 2010 Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 12/16/2010
Hello Kathy...your peace is our highest priority, your rejuvination our gift to you. Thank you for your excellent company, your artistic spirit was greatly appreciated by all...The picture of the Rastas roasting marshmellows is priceless...Mark
Wonderful beach & mountain retreat beyond imagination!
Zimbali-Retreat offers all the usual accommodation one would expect and so much more!
On the plane back I heard other people talk about their trip, which didn't seem to include all of the wonderful people & foods we experienced.
We met colorful local folks. Ate organic fresh fruits & vegatables grown right on the property and prepared in the local time honored ways. We enjoyed fresh local lobster, fish and jerked chicken too,
Mark & his wife alecia care for all your wants and needs in the mountains, as does Mike and his wife at the shore.
Enjoy all Jamaica has to offer and learn about the culture in ways few others get to experience. This is a trip not to be missed and so much more than just the wonderful beaches! When they say you are beach front, that's what they mean. Sunsets are incredible!!!
Can't wait to come back.-Mike Read more
Response from Mark & Alecia Swainbank - 12/16/2010
Mike it was a pleasure to meet you and spend time together. My daughter still asks for you. We look forward to your return. Bless...Alecia
Best of both worlds
My fourth trip to the Island of Jamaica, I wanted to try something different. I had done the beach and gone for day trips but I wanted something with more of a local feel. I chose Zimbali's beach/mountain combo and couldn't have been more pleased with my experience. The locals were very welcoming, and our hosts spared no effort in making us feel at home. I never experienced more moments of clarity in my life. Whether it was kayaking or snorkeling at the seaside resort, or drinking water from the "blue hole" and picking my own fruit and coconuts in the mountains, I felt myself becoming one with mother nature. I can't wait to head back.
My stay at Zimbali Retreats
I'm a long time vistor of Negril and heard good things about your mountain retreat from friends. After contacting you everything else was taken care care of. I'm so glad I decided to try something different and really see and feel the Jamacia I've been coming to for years. The food was amazing and my room had everything my hotel on the beach had and more. Most important was how I was really able to relax enjoy and explore the real Jamacia I might never had seen otherwise. Thanks for making me feel safe and conected to a place I thought I knew. I'll be back!