Compared with some of the larger, more ostentatious resorts in nearby Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, the Meliá Braco Village has a laid-back vibe befitting Jamaica, birthplace of reggae. Opened in January 2016, after a reported $23.5 million overhaul of an existing resort site, the 84-acre property put the emphasis on “village” — the outdoor décor has the feel of a 1950s American suburb, with gazebos, fountains, neatly manicured lawns and two pools with covered swim-up bars. The main attraction, of course, is the private beach, all white sand and turquoise water, with a long, narrow cove stretching into the Caribbean Sea. (Snorkeling, sailing, canoeing and other sports can be practiced for additional fees.) The 232 rooms are mostly in three-story tan buildings, set along gray cobblestone paths near palm and banyan trees. Meliá Hotels International, a 60-year-old Spanish chain, took over the government-owned property, the Grand Lido Braco, in small, lush Trelawny Parish, boyhood home of the Olympic track star Usain Bolt, after its previous owner, SuperClubs, reportedly ran into problems with its lease. Last spring, the resort opened 876 Prime, a high-end steakhouse (no flip-flops allowed); a 10,000-square-foot meeting space for large business groups is under construction.
Like most of the beachside resorts near Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, the Meliá Braco is secluded and encourages guests to remain on the property behind tall fences and a security booth. It’s about 33 miles east of Sangster International Airport, a bit removed from the more expensive properties that include Sandals and Iberostar. Renting a car gives you the flexibility to head out to attractions such as a tourist…