Jamaica’s tourist industry continues on a path towards diversifying its product in an effort to meet the needs of all visitors. As part of its strategy to reach the projected increase in arrivals, tremendous investment has been made in the island’s airports, hotels and attractions sectors.
As part of the airport expansion and development program, work is ongoing at both international airports.
At the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, NMIA Airports Limited and its parent company, Airports Authority of Jamaica have undertaken the expansion which is expected to be completed in three phases – phase 1A, 1B and 2. Phases 1A and 1B are currently underway with Phase 2 scheduled to get underway in 2013.
The arrivals forecourt and Ground Transportation Hall which are now in progress are expected to be completed and operational by year end.
In the resort capital, MBJ Airports, operators of the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay has been completing a multi-phased expansion. Phases 1A and 1B have already been completed. Phase 2 is now in progress and includes mechanical/electrical work on a section of the departures check-in lounge, work on the domestic area in addition to site work and landscaping. This is expected to be completed by December 2008.
The Port Authority of Jamaica is now engaged in the completion of the preliminary plans and arrangements prior to the commencement of physical works to develop a new cruise pier at Falmouth. The new pier is expected to welcome the first of Royal Caribbean Cruises new “Genesis” class of Cruise Liners, the ‘Oasis of the Seas” in May 2010. The new Genesis class liners will accommodate some 5,400 passengers and the Falmouth pier is being configured to host two vessels simultaneously. The cruise terminal and shops will be themed on the Georgian architecture for which the town of Falmouth is noted.
Improvements have been made to both the Montego Bay and Ocho Rios Piers. Montego Bay’s Berth 2 Terminal has been converted to a comfortable air-conditioned area for cruise passengers. In Ocho Rios, more spacious accommodation has been provided at the terminal building and the facility enhanced for the general comfort of passengers. Customs facilities and ground transportation have also been significantly improved.
Additional improvements are planned for both ports by the Port Authority of Jamaica, and preliminary plans are on the drawing board for the development of new piers at the East Harbor in Port Antonio and at Port Royal, just outside Kingston.
The island’s room stock has increased at a rapid rate over the last three years, due in a large measure to more luxurious developments along the island’s North Coast.
§ GoldenEye is adding a multi-million dollar high-end resort village to its exclusive resort in Oracabessa, St Mary. Completion of the mixed-use residential and full-service resort is set for December 2010 and will feature approximately 200 guest rooms spread over sixty acres of coastal land. The project will integrate the surrounding ecology using a Mediterranean design. The property will boast its own spa, swimming pools and a lagoon. The development is in it its first phase which includes the strengthening of the sea coast and work on the lagoon.
§ Couples Ocho Rios which closed in March for refurbishing is expected to reopen by year end as Couples Tower Isle. The 206-room resort is undergoing a US$15 million (J$1.08 billion) upgrade which will see the construction of an additional three floor complex of 20 rooms, refurbishing of the existing bars and main lobby and the creation of a new swim-up pool bar and state of the art spa. On completion, the resort will boast 226 guest rooms.
§ Solís The Palmyra Resort & Spa, the island’s first luxury beachfront residential community, on 16 acres of pristine waterfront land on the Rose Hall estate is set to open in January 2009. Solís The Palmyra offers 299 beautifully appointed guestrooms plus one-, two- three- and four-bedroom suites, penthouses and private villas that feature between 645 to 2,600 square feet of living space with large private terraces. This casually elegant resort will boast the Caribbean’s first branded world-class 30,000 square foot ESPA, an ocean-view fitness center and nearby championship golf at three of the Caribbean’s most prestigious courses including White Witch, Cinnamon Hill and Half Moon. Guests will have a wide array of dining options with five venues offering authentic, internationally inspired dishes with organic choices, a gourmet shop and wine cellar featuring fine wines from around the world. The property features 13,000 square-feet of indoor meeting space and outdoor event lawns.
Private concierge, butler, maid and chef services are available at a premium and are included with each private villa. The resort is less than 15 minutes from the Sangster International Airport.
§ Phase 2 of the Spanish chain Iberostar Hotels & Resorts is now expected to open in October of this year while Phase 3 will open in January 2009. The first phase of the development was completed in May 2007 with 366 rooms. On completion, the US$850-million development will comprise a total of 978 rooms.
§ RIU Montego Bay located in Ironshore, officially opened on August 29. The resort, which boasts 681 rooms, is the first RIU property in Montego Bay and the fourth in Jamaica bringing the room stock in Jamaica to 2,373 rooms. Among the features of the beachfront resort are three specialty-themed restaurants, five bars and a conference room. The hotel also offers a game room with slot machines, a gift shop and internet café. All rooms feature marble tile bathrooms, balcony or patio, satellite cable TV, a/c, hairdryer, telephone, in-room safe, radio alarm clock and mini-bar with full size bottles. Suites feature a lounge area, iron, balcony and suite bathrooms offer a hydro-massage bathtub, shower cabin, and bidet.
§ Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort was recently acquired by Kevin Hendrickson, under the Octagon Hotels Group Limited. The property located in Montego Bay, St. James, however, will remain in the Inter-Continental Hotel Group (IHG) portfolio under a Holiday Inn Resort franchise agreement. The 527-room property is currently closed to facilitate a smooth handover, re-training of staff, general clean-up and refreshing and will reopen on October 8, 2008. Holiday Inn is the latest addition to an expanding tourism portfolio which includes the Courtleigh Hotel & Suites (127 rooms) and the Knutsford Court Hotel (143 rooms) in Kingston. The new property offers family focused all-inclusive vacations.
§ This summer, the Spanish company Fiesta Hotel Group opened two luxury 5 star resorts on Jamaica’s north coast: the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa and the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa. Situated near the town of Lucea in Hanover, the hotels are halfway between the resort capital of Montego Bay and the laidback town of Negril - only 30 minutes away from the Sangster International Airport. The complex features 1.056 rooms, all of them Suites or Junior Suites. The Jamaica Resort & Spa boasts a total of 540 rooms while the Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa boasts 516 rooms. Both resorts offer seven air conditioned a la carte restaurants, thirteen bars and three buffet restaurants.
There are five banquet and convention rooms which can accommodate from 20 to 264 people. The Grand Palladium Resorts also offer five swimming pools and an open air theatre.
§ Major work is now underway to convert Spanish Court from a well-known themed shopping complex into a business hotel. This property, located in the heart of the New Kingston business district is expected to open by the end of 2008. On completion, the property will boast 110 rooms (inclusive of 8-10 suites). The property will also comprise a pool bar, a restaurant, a business centre (accommodating 40 people theatre style) with dedicated concierge.
§ The Redevelopment of the Titchfield Peninsula is now underway. The joint project involving several private and public sector stakeholders is expected to see improvements in sidewalks, addition of cafés and nightlife facilities.
§ The upscale Trident Hotel is currently undergoing major renovations. Expected changes include upgraded rooms and villas, food-and-beverage and other facilities. The Port Antonio landmark is set to reopen by year end.
§ One of the island’s newest attractions Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain, was officially opened this summer. This attraction boasts over 100 acres of land stretching from the coast road entrance near Dunn’s River Falls to over 700 feet above sea level at the peak of Mystic Mountain. Among the features of this environmentally friendly attraction for all ages: a state-of-the-art chairlift, a bobsled coaster ride, an aerial tour, and a Jamaican athletic heritage museum. The facility exemplifies the natural, unspoiled beauty of Jamaica designed for minimal impact. The Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Pier is a short 5 minute drive to the east while Dunn’s River Falls is only a 5 minute drive to the west.
§ Sea Lion Tours Limited will begin operating a new tour this winter. It includes a cruise on a custom French built 57 ft catamaran to Dunn’s River and culminates with a unique beach party at Crystal Ripple Beach, some two miles from the Ocho Rios Pier. The sail takes visitors past a number of North Coast villas, hotels and scenic attractions with a final stop at Crystal Ripple Beach, where a wide assortment of Caribbean exotic drinks will be served in calabash cups. The culinary experience is expected to tantalize the taste buds with an extraordinary method of cooking. Among the offering is a natural style steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf served with fried sweet potato. A specialty chef from Kingston with the ability to cook under sand will be on hand to prepare the meals. The chef will create an underground oven where meat will roast slowly while absorbing the smoke flavor. Visitors will see a mound of sand with two small chimneys. After the sand layers are removed, jerk pork, chicken or fish roasted on pimento sticks are revealed. The theme of the beach party is Caribbean/Luau and visitors will be treated to a live steel/reggae band.
§ A unique and interactive cultural experience is offered at Outameni, located approximately two miles from Falmouth, the capital of Trelawny. This new attraction was officially opened in September 2007. The hosts bring the nation’s rich cultural history to life with a journey through time covering periods of Spanish occupation, colonization, slavery, Emancipation and the arrival of indentured laborers. Talented performers who sing, act and dance while interacting with visitors present this virtual journey.
§ Jamspeed Rally Experience, the first full-blown performance driving school in the region is located at Spot Valley Entertainment Complex in the Rose Hall area, with its main attraction being the Co-Drivers Experience. Visitors enjoy an on-the-limit drive from the passenger seat, covering one of the country’s best dirt circuits.
In use are a Peugeot 206 GTI/SW, Mitsubishi Evolution III or Subaru Impreza STI V5. These competitive vehicles allow visitors to experience an adrenaline rush as a co-driver in a real-life high-speed rally race. The tour is run in both directions of the track and can be lengthened to a 6km stage around the property.
NEGRIL & THE SOUTH COAST
§ JAM-X (Jamaica Extreme) Tours at Paradise Park. This one-hour journey on dune buggy takes visitors on an adventure through Paradise Park Plantation in Westmoreland. Paradise Parkhas a rich history dating back to the late 1700’s and is currently a working plantation with cattle and water buffalos.
About Jamaica Tourist Board
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), founded in 1955, is Jamaica’s national tourism agency based in the capital city of Kingston. The JTB was declared the Caribbean’s Leading Tourist and Convention Bureau by the World Travel Awards (WTA) for 2006 and 2007, while Jamaica earned the WTA’s vote as the World’s Leading Cruise Destination, the Caribbean’s Leading Destination and the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination.