Rose Hall Great House, Montego Bay
You can utter her name three times fast, but I don’t recommend it. Not that the White Witch of Montego Bay would mind—locals say she loves ‘rising’ to the occasion. During a recent tour of the legendary 18th century Rose Hall Great House, one of the most popular tours in Jamaica, sordid tales of lust, murder and mystery took over the otherwise mellow night. It all surrounded Annie Palmer, whose former mistress to ghost in residence legacy made for an intriguing, albeit unsettling, 30-minute tour.
The beautifully restored Georgian plantation, set amidst 6,600 acres of lush Caribbean land, returned to its former glory through the stories of knowledgeable local guides. The tour wraps around most of the building, including the dungeon, now transformed into the Annie’s Pub tavern. The tavern’s famous “Witches Brew” rum cocktail is said to protect against the ghosts and black magic that still linger in the mansion from Palmer’s grisly heyday. Day and evening tours are available, depending on the ‘effect’ you wish to instill.
The 2,000-acre Good Hope Plantation and Estate House in Falmouth is thrilling in its own right. Here, amongst the beautifully restored grounds of this former sugar estate, groups can swing through the trees on a White Witch zip line tour, have Appleton Estate rum tastings, tube down a natural slide from an ancient aqueduct or take in the sites by carriage. It’s all made possible through local tour operator Chukka. One of the more intriguing team building options is an obstacle course that expands every which way including high into the trees. After exploring an ancient factory, pottery barn and waterwheel, the pottery of local artist David Pinto will feel like a “must buy.”
The 250-year-old Great House is a soothing spot to unwind with High Tea full spread, as it was intended. It’s such a memorable experience that Disney Cruise Lines lists it as a port adventure.