THE WORLD famous Milk River Hotel and Spa in South West Clarendon is best known for its wondrous healing properties by the millions of people who travel across the world to visit the facility yearly.
The now 221-year-old property is said to be the number-one mineral bath in the world, leading First World countries such as France, England, and Switzerland.
The 6 public baths are located in small private rooms off a seating area. The rooms are smartly tiled. Each can hold several people but the area for changing is really only suitable for one person at a time. The tepid water flows swiftly through the bath. The standard time for soaking is 15 minutes.
The hotel above the baths has about 20 bedrooms mostly ensuite. There is a cocktail bar and a restaurant. Food seems to be available specially cooked out of regular mealtimes.
Nearby is a swimming pool fed by the mineral waters.
Milk River is 36 miles from Mandeville. Take the highway south from Williamsfield down Melrose Hill via Porus past stalls replete with luscious citrus and other fruit to TOLLGATE and turn R Flat canefields and pastures border seven miles of road to REST crossroads where you turn R to Milk River Spa another 3.5 miles away.
MILK RIVER SPA AND HOTEL belong to the government and is operated by the Ministry of Tourism. The hotel, built against a limestone cliff and upstairs of the mineral baths, overlooks the Milk River. Manager Desmond Edwards heads a friendly staff, including a trained masseuse. Accommodation is not plush, but clean and comfortable. The food is good, with plenty of fish from nearby FARQUHARS BEACH.
Downstairs there are nine tiled baths with a continuous flow of lukewarm mineral water. The analysis of the mineral spring shows it as more radioactive than leading European spas, (fifty-four times as active as Baden in Switzerland and three times as active as Karlsbad, Austria). The waters are reputed to cure numerous ailments including rheumatism, gout, neuralgia, sciatica, lumbago, nerve conditions and liver disorders. The recommended treatment is 3 baths per day, each lasting no longer than 20 minutes. There are two springs, the water of the second can be taken internally for digestive complaints. The baths are open 24 hours a day to hotel guests and 7am to 9pm to the public. There is also a public mineral water swimming pool open at weekends.
Milk River is popular with Jamaicans. The atmosphere is very homey. You are likely to meet hotel guests wandering around in their dressing gowns on their way to or from the baths or sipping early morning coffee on the screened verandah. Locals drop by for a bath or a meal. At weekends there is usually a crowd.
The spa was discovered in the eighteenth century by a slave belonging to Jonathan Ludford. The slave, who had been punished and severely beaten escaped from Ludfords estate and hid in the nearby hills where he discovered a salty spring, drank the water and bathed his battered body before returning in fine shape to the slave village. Ludford, amazed at the mans recovery promised never to punish him again if he would show him the miraculous spring. He then fenced the place, put the slave there as a watchman and eventually willed the property to the government. The first baths were constructed and opened to the public in 1794.
Milk River is a comfortable base from which to explore the south coast of Clarendon or St Elizabeth. FARQUHARS, a small fishing beach, is one mile from the hotel via a primitive road. Fishing trips can be arranged by negotiation with the boatmen short trips to ALLIGATOR HOLE or deep sea expeditions to BOON ROCK. You will have to provide your own tackle. The Milk River itself is said to harbour crocodiles and although they are reclusive and shy animals, do not push your luck by swimming here.
I visited MR over 47 years ago so it was a delight returning. I enjoyed every moment. The cost per night was very reasonable, the room fairly comfortable, meals quite tasty, the workers pleasant, but relaxing in the warm, mineral water was the best you'll ever experience.
I'm encouraging my readers to make use of this awesome gift God has blessed us with, which is the best mineral waters in the world.
I'll be returning soon.