The Art of Recharging your Mind, Body and Soul Jamaican Style: 5 Questions with Tingalaya’s Retreat owner David Rosenstein

What is a Retreat? Many of the world’s great religious traditions define a retreat as a time consciously set aside for God (however one conceptualizes it), to change focus and to step outside the normal routine by withdrawing (not running away) from the noise and pressures of daily life. This is best experienced in a quiet place where all one’s senses become open and ready to encounter a sense of the divine. Tingalaya’s Retreat offers such an environment, where one can connect with nature and ultimately reconnect with oneself while staying as connected to the outside world as one may choose. Jamaica is fortunate to have such a place that is beyond the tourist meccas, and crowded beach fronts, past the expected and just beyond the Negril Lighthouse, which is nestled on the westernmost cliffs of the island, at the geographical beginning of Jamaica’s famed South Coast. It has been said by more than one of our visitors that once you find Tingalaya’s, you find Jamaica as it’s meant to be. 

Owned by American entrepreneur and architectural designer David Jonathan Rosenstein, a Johns Hopkins University PhD, who is a lifelong student of philosophy and religion and who first visited Negril in the early 1980s and has been returning ever since. Dr Rosenstein personally designed and built eight bungalows on the property and is responsible for its unique atmosphere, aesthetic and landscape design. We sat with Dr Rosenstein to discuss how he created such a unique environment in which to relax, enjoy and reflect. 

1. What drove the creation of Tingalaya’s Retreat? 

DR: Over the past 40 years, Jamaica has become my second home. When I used to vacation here with my family in the 90s, the thought began to occur to me to own my own property here. After looking around for a while, I thought that Negril offered the right opportunities to invest. In 2004, I acquired Tingalaya’s Retreat with the idea that it would become my private get-away in the Caribbean that I would enjoy with family and friends. I wanted to create a place I could feel comfortable and at home. The Tingalaya’s Retreat I acquired, however, was a very run-down and quite dilapidated place. But, as they say, it had good bones! In other words, it needed a whole lot of love and a whole lot of hard work to reach my initial vision of its potential. Right away, I set to work to reshape and redesign the property. After a few years of building and renovation, began to realize that Tingalaya’s might also be ready to welcome guests from beyond my immediate circle of family and friends. In 2010, Tingalaya’s Retreat opened as a B&B Hotel and began welcoming guests from around the world. Over the years, it has become a place where an international clientele has come to relax and enjoy a unique corner of Jamaica, the Caribbean and the world. As I lead a busy and active life, Tingalaya’s Retreat still affords me an environment where I reflect on life’s important questions and find a healthy balance between the inner and outer worlds that we inhabit. Many of our guests have commented on the feeling of spirituality they feel when on the property. We’re glad they noticed the subtle allure that the property holds in this regard. 

2. What are some of the things one could enjoy at Tingalaya’s Retreat? 

DR: People love Jamaica for a variety of reasons. The sun, the beach, the people and the food.  In addition to the lush tropical foliage, we have a rare and beautiful cliff-side seaside beach with an ocean-filled pool and pool deck that is just perfect for individual or group activities. Early morning and late afternoon we often find our guests lounging by the sea enjoying getting to know each other, or sitting quietly watching the sunset. We get a lot of interest in yoga and wellness retreats but it’s also a perfect place for family reunions, corporate retreats and weddings. Our yoga studio is said to be the most beautiful on the island. Our organic farm is already adding elements of the farm-to-table experience we are trying to cultivate. 

3. Tingalaya’s Retreat is a special place. What inspired the design elements? 

DR: Among other things, I am a builder and architectural designer. Having travelled widely, I am inspired by the many architectural styles I’ve observed. But, Tingalaya’s is meant to be an updated interpretation of the Caribbean and Jamaican architectural styles infused with unique details and artistic accents from around the world. Its style is eclectic, minimalist and decidedly elegant. Tingalaya’s Retreat hangs together like a beautiful tapestry. I like to use high vaulted ceilings in my structures to evoke an uplifting and spacious feeling and I employ original art, accents and authentic antiques in all the rooms to appeal to one’s sense of the beautiful. 

4. Why did you choose the West End in Negril for Tingalaya’s Retreat? 

DR: Negril has changed a great deal over the past decade. What used to be a place for “hippies” and drug dealers has been transformed into something “new” that visitors and locals are starting to notice. I call it the “new Negril.” The new Negril is decidedly more upscale and quality-oriented. From one end of Negril to the other, one sees the transformation underway. With quality hotels and resorts, cohesive public works, good restaurants, the availability of fibre optic internet, banking and communication, more people are investing, renovating and building out world-class properties. Negril’s quiet and relaxed West End has a special role to play in the “new Negril.” Tingalaya’s is part and parcel of this transformation. 

5. What can one expect when they stay on the property? 

DR: In addition to the things I’ve already mentioned, if one arrives in the late afternoon you’d be in time to watch a gorgeous sunset at our cliff-side ocean-filled pool. Afterwards, you can go eat at one of the nice restaurants nearby or down on the beach road. If you wish, you can make your own meal in our commercial kitchen. After dining you can return to our beach and get a breath-taking view of the planets, the stars, and the milky way and take a moment to contemplate your place in the vast universe. We have fireflies in Jamaica that are called ‘penny-wallies.’ which you’ll see if you sit or stroll in the gardens at night. They always remind me of Tinkerbell. We have no televisions in the rooms so when you close your eyes you can hear the sounds of nature all around. The crickets, the frogs, and the birds will serenade you as you’re dozing off to sleep. In the morning, we recommend going on a day-break nature walk or doing some meditation in our Yoga Pavilion. Breakfast is ready when you are ready. Fresh Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is ready early. You’ll be served fruits and vegetables from our organic farm when they’re in season for a real farm-to-table experience. 

An intimate 4.5-acre hideaway nestled within the lush terrain of Negril’s West End seaside cliffs, Tingalaya’s Retreat is an experience unbounded, rooted in tradition and natural spectacle. Visit www.tingalayasretreat.com and email info@tingalayasretreat.com for more information. 

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