CLICK HERE to read PART ONE of the Half Moon Resort mini-series. This post won’t make sense unless you start at the beginning of part one which ended with the full tour of my luxurious cottage.
My First Evening of Romance
Having left off at the end of my room tour in PART ONE of this mini-series, it was very late in my first day at Half Moon Resort now and I had no idea what I should do next. What I did know is that I had a LOT to experience in a mere two days in order to review this property so I immediately took a shower and rifled through my bags for something appropriate to wear to dinner. I had it in mind to try the Italian restaurant, Il Giardino, and I didn’t want to show up in jean shorts and a tank top. I purposely packed a couple of dresses knowing that my usual Jamaica attire wouldn’t suffice.
When I arrived at Il Giardino the restaurant was very quiet. Keep in mind, May is low season and the resort in general was very quiet at this time of year, which I liked. It felt a little awkward walking into this beautiful restaurant all by myself but after the hostess asked for my room number she addressed me as Miss Keller and happily escorted me to a small table inside. After I was seated it took no time for my server, Crystal to come greet me, also addressing me as Miss Keller.
Crystal was a beautiful young lady with a radiant smile and a bubbly personality. I loved her immediately! She was my main server and then there was Daniel, the young man who carried a few appetizers to my table. Throughout the course of my meal Crystal and Daniel kept it 100% real. I expected a much stuffier experience in this fine dining establishment but team Crystal and Daniel were simply outstanding. Their sense of humor was great and their service was excellent.
One of the many nice touches on my dining experience at Il Giardino was a personal visit by the Chef de Cuisine. I’m guessing there was a resort-wide note attached to my room number to “schmooze with this lady because she’s here with Forbes” because the chef didn’t visit anyone else’s table that evening. Cosimo Riccardi, straight out of Naples, Italy has been the Chef here for a few years and appeared a lot younger than I would have expected. He was another fun, fresh personality in this restaurant and I was completely impressed by the staff overall. I was also impressed with the fact that all the other customers in the restaurant had eyes on me probably wondering why this lone woman was getting all the attention.
I adore Italian food and my meal on a whole was super fantastic. I had a burrata cheese, tomato and basil salad to start, homemade ravioli filled with mozzarella, fresh cherry tomatoes for my main course and although I forget what it was called I had a piece of lemon heaven for desert, pictured below. Here is a link to the entire menu at Il Giardino and some regrettably poorly lit photos of my meal in the candlelight atmosphere here. The flavors were to die for and I never dreamed I’d see gourmet cheeses like this in Jamaica.
I should stop for a minute and tell you that this resort is not all-inclusive. Even though my entire stay was complimentary I was still presented with a bill each time I dined so that the resort could sign off on it. Here’s where the reality of a resort like this hit me. Below is the itemized bill for my dinner and two drinks, in USD. This may not be a shocker for some but it was far outside the realm of what I would or even COULD spend on one dinner in Jamaica. Since the cost was not out of my own pocket during this stay I generously tipped Crystal for her service, even knowing that the service charge on each bill was also considered a gratuity.
Once my dinner was finished I was sad to say goodbye to Crystal. She asked what night I’d be coming back to this restaurant and I told her that I only had two nights here to complete my assignment so I wouldn’t see her again. She gave me a genuine hug and we said our goodbyes.
After dinner I wondered what the heck there was to do on this resort after dark so I wandered on over to Cedar bar for a beverage. Cedar bar is on the waterfront and the Half Moon website describes it as the “heart of the resort”. I was literally the only person to pull up a chair that evening so it kind of looked like the broken heart of the resort during low season.
It was around 8:00 pm and I could see that beside the bar in the covered lobby area there was a band setting up. I LOVE live music and was curious to know what they would play. The moment I pulled up my chair the bartender was at my service. His name was Caswell. If I had to venture a guess I’d say he was around my age and again, I fell in love immediately. Caswell is a super cool cat. It’s the only way to describe him and from what I’ve read on social media since my visit, every Half Moon guest has the same opinion of him. He has a laid back demeanor, a smokey, soothing voice and he’s the type of bartender that you’d expect to find in an old gentleman’s club. He made me feel like this has been my regular spot for years. Just a real cool guy. And when the silky-smooth jazz band started playing I felt like I should be drinking top shelf scotch on rocks and smoking a cigarette!
The three-piece band was absolutely incredible. It was made up of a drummer, a stand-up bass player and a guitarist all playing island-infused jazz music like it was nobody’s business. I felt sad that it was only me, Caswell, and two other couples in the entire area enjoying them! I’ll be doing a separate blog post about the musicians later.
This might sound strange but that Thursday night I spent alone at Cedar bar with Caswell and the jazz band is the ONE night I will remember most about being at Half Moon. There was something about the sultry vibe that evening. It was quiet, intimate, classy and just downright memorable. I can’t quite put my finger on what made it so special but it was absolutely the one thing that made me return to the resort the following week, after I had checked out (more on that later, too).
If I were ever to go on a proper date in Jamaica I’d marry the man who would take me on a date night like this! And I’d hire this band for the wedding too.
The music finished and the evening wrapped up around 11:00 pm. Caswell presented me with a bill for my four glasses of Appleton and Pepsi…a whopping $50.00 USD. **WELP** I’m so glad I was just signing for things I’d never have to pay for in real life. But I was also mentally preparing for the fact that I knew I wanted to return to this resort on my own dime the following Thursday night to see this band again.
I said my goodnights to Caswell and the other two couples, picked up my umbrella and sauntered happily up the dark pathway to my cottage, feeling slightly more classy than at the beginning of the evening.
I was a little excited to sink into my gigantic bed and experience my first sleep at Half Moon, and I won’t lie….it was quite heavenly. In fact, upon entering my room at the end of the night there was soft piano music playing from God knows where inside the bedroom. My bed was turned down, there were plush white slippers on the floor beside the bed and EVEN a mosquito vape machine plugged into the wall in the bedroom.
When the universe was handing out little details it sure seems that Half Moon was the first in line to collect!
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Half Moon mini-series!
Read PART THREE here.