One of the highlights here is a Gourmet Inclusive dining scene, which lets you enjoy unlimited food and drink around the clock. There are also different room types, including swim-up rooms that feature over-the-water daybeds.
My first mistake, arriving at Montego Bay airport in Jamaica, is to assume everybody has heard of the new resort in Negril that I’m headed to. “Sensatori!” I say proudly, to an unimpressed customs agent who replies that there’s no such hotel, which makes me panic. “Sensativia?” I try. “Sensationalia?” Thank God she waves me through before I accidentally invent a range of sex toys, or yogurt. But Sensatori is indeed the name of a chain of luxury resorts from Thomson, which is now expanding into the long-haul destinations of Jamaica, Mexico and Dominican Republic.
Our taxi driver plays Bob Marley but regales me with tales of the local rapper Vybz Kartel, currently in prison for murder, and Alkaline, who has tattooed his own eyeball. I ask if Alkaline has killed anybody. “Not yet!” So it’s quite a relief to arrive at the resort and find everyone’s eyeballs intact, gazing blissfully at the seven miles of white beach that surround us, the shiny white buildings that make up the restaurants, beach bars and hotel rooms, and various swimming pools. What’s more, the supermodel and photographer Helena Christensen is here, promoting the resort for which she has co-designed a range of “boyfriend shirts”.
As night falls, I am invited to dine with Christensen and her friends at tables laid out on the sands, beside a live reggae band. A burly grandma, covered in tattoos, approaches with her family and tries to sit in our reserved seats. “Greedy sod!” she replies, cheerily, when I say they’re for somebody else. This resort might be fancy, but it’s still very much a package holiday crowd. Sensatori is not the Mustique sort of holiday where people have their own villas and yachts – this place is for British tourists who want to lie on sun loungers until they change colour. But oh, that beach. That sand, that water – I’ve never felt anything like it. You just walk into the sea until you’re horizontal, which I do at 8am the next morning, only to find Christensen beside me in her turquoise bikini, matching the water.
“Relax every muscle in your body,” she murmurs, in her Danish accent. “Relax every tension.” I have never felt so grateful for salt; I am held aloft by it, by the turquoise, by the freshness of the air. She says she went by boat ride to a tiny island with a pirate bar on it yesterday, gazed at a red flowering tree, then stopped at a local market to buy a little tie-dye top with “Jamaica” written on it in sequins. “I always do my nails in different colours in the summer – each finger – so I’m going to do them the same colours as the tie dye.”
And the fact that this is an all-inclusive resort means a waitress will come along, when you’re lying on that beach, offering you free drinks. If you don’t fancy room service you can nip into any of the cafés and have a smoothie, or lunch, or champagne, without needing your purse. In fact, you start to forget about financial exchange altogether, making you even more relaxed. Looking back, I’m amazed there weren’t more drunken idiots taking advantage, but at midnight in the cocktail bar the mood was still entirely pleasant. Or perhaps that’s how I remember it because I was the drunken idiot. Hard to know for sure.
Christensen urges me to have a massage in the spa, which is as good as she promises. “You know in some massages, when they don’t go deep enough… it was so satisfying to finally have someone who could feel it…” She has also been taking the resort’s yoga classes, and been running on the beach. “I thought, what the hell, I haven’t run for so long. Bare feet. All the way down the other end where there’s a really interesting exhibition – all these weird objects and a guy sitting there. Then I looked closer and went, ‘Oh! Most of them are penises.’ OK, see ya.” She laughs. “But that’s what I like – when there’s something else going on that gives you a little unexpected thrill.”
If penis thrills aren’t enough, you can also drive to nearby attractions such as the YS Falls, a heavenly jungle waterfall which a guide leads us right into in our swimsuits. Somehow, he persuades me to jump 20ft off a rope swing into the water, which I will never forget – possibly because of the sound of strangers laughing as I splay through the air with my eyes squeezed shut, screaming.
I ask Christensen for travel tips, given that her job means living out of a suitcase. “Only travel with hand luggage,” she says, “because you won’t actually change into all the little evening outfits you think you will.” She also suggests taking loads of skin products stuffed in clear plastic bags, under 100ml each. “The minute I get on the plane, I put it all on. And a face mask.” Don’t you feel silly? “Oh of course I feel silly! Someone comes to give you a drink and they’re a little startled, because you look like a serial killer.”
Sure, she doesn’t fly economy, and no supermodel books a package holiday for her own family. But her final piece of advice – “get in the water, though, as soon as possible” – applies to anyone here. It’s the same water lapping the same sand for us all, celebrity or not.
Seven-night all-inclusive holidays to Thomson’s 5-star Sensatori Resort Jamaica cost from £1,133 per person, based on two adults sharing, including flights and transfers (thomson.co.uk).
Helena Christensen wears a shirt from her collection for Thomson Sensatori Shirts (thomson.co.uk/destinations/discover/style)
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