To some, the phrase “Unlimited Luxury” connotes all you can eat. To an equal if not greater data set, it means all you can drink.
Here at Breathless Montego Bay, one can channel one’s inner Dionysus or Bacchus at multiple excellent tropical bars, where you can conduct endless chemistry experiments with your bartender as your lab assistant. Hey, if it’s right to do it’s wrong to wait. Let’s get started.
One can grab a Red Stripe or Jamaican Rum Punch immediately after entering the front entrance. To the right and at the far end of the lobby is Wink Bar; an artwork of geometry in mirrors and marble lined with comfortably backed barstools along the lobby wall. Glass doors adjacent to the bar lead to the sprawling pool area.
Our affable bartender, natty in white starched shirt and bow tie, was Andrew. He’s an engaging jack-of-all-trades who floats between bars to relieve colleagues (on this day, regular Wink bartender Jesselyn).
Wink is the resort’s social hub; from which guests come and go to and from their island adventures. Those who visit the lobby bar often start with a Red Stripe and then move on to cocktails as the spirit moves them. After all, the luxury is unlimited. Fellow bartender Luraine arrived to join Andrew behind the bar and to craft a frozen Bob Marley in primary colors of green, yellow and red. Those are the colors of the Rastafari flag and the flag of Ethiopia: homeland of emperor and Rasta divinity Hailie Selassie, whose given name was Ras (prince) Tafari (his first name).
Like Andrew, you will meet Luraine at any of the Breathless bars as she provides skilled and efficient relief to other mixologists.
Andrew’s favorite part of his work is having conversations with interesting people from all over the world. For many guests Wink Lobby Bar is a home base and a meeting place. Open from 10am till 2 in the morning.
The swim-up bar is called Freestyle. The bar is a colorful artwork of multicolored tiles in abstract designs.
The bars at pool level and above and behind are marble. The rear bar, protected from passing showers (Jamaican liquid sunshine) by a beautiful wooden slat roof, is called Fishnets service bar. It produces drinks for the pool loungers and the Fishnets restaurant, but also has eight comfortable stools at which to take momentary refuge from the sun. Red Stripe and RS Light on draft and the usual Appleton Estate Jamaica Rums. The pool bar has a menu of popular rum-based and other cocktails, but the tropical potion chemical formulas are limited only by one’s imagination. A wooden bridge links the bars to Fishnets grill with its picturesque views to the lagoon.
Freestyle has 10 stools in the water and faces out over the expansive pool. Watch for the step approaching the bar that raises one up from water chest high to waist high. Jethro presides over Freestyle. He’s been a tropical barmeister for eight years.
When asked to reveal the cocktail he most considers his signature drink, he cites three. Two of them have a Breathless Resort theme: Take My Breath Away and Breathless Moments. But his favorite from the island’s traditional cocktail canon is the Jamaican Delight. Appleton Rum, apricot brandy, a trickle of lemon juice and pineapple juice. Like a potent but refreshing lemonade.
Should you be chilling at the pool, you may meet the charming Sandrea. She is a bartender for the pool and surrounding areas and is the intermediary between your chaise lounge and Freestyle bar.
Jethro also kindly concocted a drink of a deep purple called Take My Breath Away: Vodka, blue curacao, grenadine red syrup, lime juice and sprite. I would describe its taste as like a refreshing adult grape Kool-Aid.
The pool bar is open from 10am to 6pm and a DJ provides an island beat soundtrack.
Altitude is a rooftop deck bar with a pool overlooking a sweeping expanse of Montego Bay where the sun dances daily upon the sea, creating radiant hues in shades of watercolor blues and greens.
It’s the highest elevation away from the surrounding hills.
The bartender here is Dalbert. He’s been the bartender since the resort ribbon-cutting. I asked him what cocktail in the vast database inside his head he likes best and he produced a drink called an Island Paradise.
His personal formula (slightly altered from others with the same name): Rum, Amaretto, vodka, and a splash of pineapple juice and club soda. A joking extrovert with a 500 watt grin, Dalbert boasts that his 25-years of experience behind the bar across the island makes him swift and confident when the orders start stacking up during rooftop pool parties. Dalbert’s answer to every drink request: No problem.
On the 6th floor. Opens at 10am for elite guests in the Xhale Club. At 6pm it is open to all guests.
Bare Buns Grill Bar
Bare Buns is where Andre often presides over a raucous crowd.
At 3 in the afternoon it was very crowded, very loud and very fun. The beachfront bar is a five-minute walk from the main resort building through the enclosed bridge passageway and via a short footpath to arrive at Breathless Beach Club and its bar and grill, Bare Buns.
Andre keeps the energy level dialed up to 11 and his audience in stitches (including fellow bar staffer Ashley).
Andre made us a Dirty Banana. Says he makes it often by popular demand.
A dirty banana is a frozen blend of rum, coffee liqueur, rum cream, milk and banana. Topped with a pineapple slice.
Andre keeps the interaction at peak level, embracing the role of social director and teasing customers. He leads them in a group call-and-response repeat-after-me like a Baptist preacher, but with an outrageous verse too rude for church. It begins: “Here’s to the breezes; That lift the skirts above the kneeses.” The rest is unfit for a travel blog but rhymes the words “teases, pleases and diseases.” The bar patrons—a devoted Andre posse—shriek in hysterical approval!
Andre also recommends an unconventional offering called an Iceberg, which is basically a Red Stripe beer with a frozen margarita floating on top. He swept his hands outward to encompass drinkers lining his bar and insisted they would testify to its tastiness. They so testified.
Breathless Bar Bonus: Hard Rock Café
(To be clear—Hard Rock must be annotated with an asterisk = * Not Inclusive)
Right next to Bare Buns on the Breathless beach, just a Red Stripe bottle cap’s throw away, is the Hard Rock Café Montego Bay, the only Hard Rock in Mobay.
Hard Rock is not on the resort property but a uniformed Breathless staffer mans a border crossing like a customs officer. Guests freely pass through to the Hard Rock and non-guests are denied entry into Breathless territory.
Hard Rock has a large rectangular interior bar and the usual rock and roll memorabilia on the walls. A private party room is a shrine to Bob Marley with framed candid photos and signed album covers. His image also appears with other music icons on the walls surrounding the pool. The Hard Rock has its own outdoor deck, pool and beach.
Smiling staffers Opri and Kameisha are engaging and unfailingly helpful.
The beers here are the ever-present Red Stripe with the addition of Dragon Stout, also brewed by Red Stripe (Desnoes and Geddes). Hard Rock also serves Jamaican-brewed Guinness and Heineken. And of course various Jamaican-made Appleton Rums.
Hard Rock has multiple flat-screens displaying sporting events inside, and a large projection screen by the pool, which will display major U.S. sporting events when they occur. Live music on Saturday nights. A reggae and classic rock sound track at all times.