The Sea-U Guest House formally describes itself as a “small hotel”, but that is doing this unique little place a disservice. On an island more renowned for its elite hotels such as Colony Club and The House, all reviewed elsewhere on Stylebible, it lives alone, separated from the rest of the island.
There is simply nothing like the Sea-U. Arriving here, after the conurbations and simple sea breezes of the island’s southern and western coasts, is like stepping onto the moon. Waves arrive straight in off the Atlantic, having last seen land somewhere around the Azores. They crash into the cliffs and the rocky beaches, drenching you with wet and salt and filling your lungs with some of the cleanest air in the Western Hemisphere.
The Sea-U perches atop the cliffs, staring down on all of this wonderful and manic maelstrom. Despite the immense sound and force of the waves, an immediate sense of wonderful calm descends on you as you wander the lush green grounds, decked with hammocks and linen curtains, drifting in the breeze. Everywhere, people spread out, stretching their bodies and their minds; on yoga mats and in hammocks or lying on lounge chairs, meditating or reading.
This is a place to frequent not, if you want to party, but if you’re looking for spirituality, sanctity, peace, some down-time and me-time, this is it. Even some us-time (the mix is roughly half couples, half singles). Getting to the Sea-U and the sprawling little village of Bathsheba in which it sits, is in itself an adventure. We hired a car in the west of the island, then embarked on a bouncy voyage inland, heading through the twisty hills, past old sugar plants and villages filled with chattering schoolkids and old-timers playing dominos. At some point, we lost track of the main road, turned onto a smaller track, and wound up driving through a sugar plantation. All part of the fun of the ride.
Bathsheba and the Sea-U finally located, we settled in. You can either to choose to stay in the main lodge, or in one of the separate chalets (we opted for the latter). The rooms are decorated with old-style furniture: heavy wood furnishings that fit perfectly with the surrounds, yet which can feel ponderous and a little gloomy when the clouds gather. Each room comes with a ceiling fan but no air con, so the nights can be hot, verging at times on the unbearable. And keep the mosquito nets tucked firmly under the sheets! The lodges are well decorated and include a kitchenette, good-sized bathrooms, and decks that come with hammocks and lazy chairs, providing the perfect spot to read a book.
As a place to recuperate, it simply cannot be beaten. A week here feels like a month – the ‘real world’ is hard to return to afterward. People suffering from Parkinson’s disease stay on this side of the island, and come back raving about the coast’s revivifying qualities. If you are looking to revive a tired mind, I’d recommend you book in for a private yoga session. A delightful teacher arrives to teach you on the veranda to the sound of the ocean behind you, and if that sounds a little too strenuous she always does a great massage. The walks along the cliff tops are breathtaking and soul-restoring and the beaches are glorious, though the water is tough and rough, full of rip tides that can drag you far out into the Atlantic, so swimming and surfing should be left to professionals.
A morning buffet at the Sea-U is healthy, and includes the likes of spinach salad sprinkled with sunflower seeds, Jamaican lentil soup, and Caribbean coconut pie. A $30 set menu is on offer in the evening. It’s worthy but, after a few days, a little Spartan. A great option in the evening is the Round House (see review), a few minutes along the beach, which is a great and fun place to spend an evening drinking and eating.
There is a sense of isolation about the entire area that can sometimes seem exacerbated by the clientele, who tend not to mingle with one another. But for the price and the experience, the Sea-U cannot be beaten. If you’re looking for some real and genuine R&R (as opposed to saying that that’s what you want, while secretly craving a drink and a party), this the perfect place for you, far away from more touristy areas and the madding crowds. If that all sounds a little too quiet, I’d definitely recommend starting your week here before moving onto Little Arches, or to one of the über-luxury boutiques on the west coast.