Caribbean Travel & Life – May 2003

The Paradise Within

In the summer of 1987, Jackie Lewis was a hot New York Fashion Designer
with purple spiked hair, celebrity clients and a glamorous lifestyle. She
was setting trends and making headlines. By that fall, she was living on
Jamaica in a remote part of Negril’s West End, in a tent without water or
electricity, pursuing a very different career path .

Growing up in Salt Lake City, Lewis had always dreamed of owning a
clothing store in New York, She opened her first boutique in the East
Village in 1964. Artists, performers and film stars paid high prices for
her chic designs. But coming up with new fashion ideas every season
eventually took its toll. Lewis sought solace in Negril and, as she puts
it, ” the other reality” she found there.

Increasingly dissatisfied with her competitive New York lifestyle,
Lewis took healing workshops and gained a new out-look. “I realized that
the clothes I was selling made my clients look good on the outside , but
were’nt helping them feel better about themselve,” she says. Lewis decided
to take a chance. She closed her store and moved full-time to Jamaica,
determined to open a holistic spa in Negril to help women focus on their
inner lives.

Jackie’s on the Reef took seven years to complete and now features
massage huts by the sea, an organic restaurant and basic, peaceful rooms.
Her spa specializes in natural treatments such as a five herb body scrub
and reflexology using fresh aloe. ” it’s rewarding to see people who stay
here make changes in their lives,” she says. ” they gain new perspective
and go home happy.”

Lewis returns periodically to New York to see friends and go to the
theater, but claims that there’s nothing better than the freedom she feels
in Negril. “I live a life now with no agenda, no time frame and no clocks,”
she say. She urges those who want to follow in her footsteps: ” Listen to
inner voice, be clear about what you want, go for your dream and have faith
– Kathleen M.Mangan