The mahogany dining room table is set with silver candelabra, lace cloth and English china. The staff serves a perfectly cooked dinner that includes everything from pumpkin soup to homemade pie.
We feel the gentle sea breeze and look out on a spectacular vista -- from the stone patio to our pool, tropical gardens and, of course, the sea.
We are in Jamaica, enjoying a preholiday moms' getaway. My three oldest friends from grade school and I are at the most unusual all-inclusive resort I've ever visited.
Welcome to Bluefields Bay Villas (www.bluefieldsvillas.com) -- a collection of six seaside homes of varying sizes in the tiny community of Bluefields a little more than an hour's drive southwest of Montego Bay and about 45 minutes from Negril.
We were whisked from the airport by amiable Percy Baldwin, who keeps up a running commentary along the way on the winding, bumpy road of Jamaican history and culture.
When we arrive at "Hermitage," our four-bedroom villa, our staff is waiting to great us -- cook Rose Spence, housekeeper Sharon Plummer and major domo Marvin Forrest, who later will take us up Bluefield Mountain on a hike, passing locals who, because there is no running water, carry their water in jugs up the mountain from the river.
If we'd had young kids with us, there would have been a nanny waiting too. We change clothes and relax on chairs on our deck overlooking the ocean, drinks in hand.
Yes, this is an all-inclusive experience -- from all of the drinks we want to our meals and activities (kayak or snorkel, anyone?). There's even a reggae party at a neighboring Bluefields villa, featuring a local band.
But it couldn't be any more different than traditional all-inclusive resorts. For one thing, we're ensconced in our own house with our own pool and private beach, where we're waited on from the minute we wake up (coffee is waiting when I get out of my canopied bed) until we go to sleep after a couple of rounds of Scrabble. There's Wi-Fi, but no TV. I enjoy one of the best massages I've ever had.
But what I love even more than being treated like a queen is the chance to experience the "real" Jamaica. We feel completely safe -- no worries about crime in this sleepy area, but just in case, there are security patrols all night.
"We want to respect what people want on vacation and make that happen," says Debbie Moncure, who runs the business with her husband.
We visit the preschool that the Moncure family funds, delivering crayons and markers we've brought to the giggling children. I tour the local community center with Woldes Kristos, who is developing nature-oriented excursions (www.jamaicabirding.com) and other community efforts to employ locals in tourism. We chat with artists working from tiny roadside studios.
At our villa, we're served local Jamaican cuisine -- everything from fried plantain and jerk chicken to local snapper, fried breadfruit and for breakfast Rundown, a saute of salt fish and vegetables in a coconut milk sauce.
One morning, we head off to explore a small section of the Black River -- at 44 miles Jamaica's longest navigable river populated by crocodiles, birds and Mangroves. We head to YS Falls (www.YSfalls.com) where we can swim in the seven-tiered waterfall.
Bluefields Villas isn't cheap. Rates depend on the number of bedrooms you are using, plus $125 per day per adult and $90 per day per child for meals, activities and staff. Off-peak weekly rental at one of the two-bedroom cottages is $3,500; $5,600 for a five-bedroom house. Split a villa with extended family or friends and you may find it comfortably affordable and also a special experience.