Vamos a La Playa, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh

Vamos a La Playa, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh

In 1655 England seized Jamaica from Spain- it would appear that now, some 350 years later, the Spanish are back en force. Over the last couple of years the Spanish tour operators and hotel companies have been grabbing headlines with large-scale projects all over the island. And they’ve been welcomed with open arms. Despite Jamaica’s strong position with U.S. and Canadian travelers, Europe has been less consistent in recent decades. Spain has made a major commitment to the island and there’s hope that this will lead to the reopening of other European markets.

Jamaica has benefited from positive trends within the travel industry that have in-effect anointed the Caribbean a “safe haven” in an otherwise troubled world. In addition, Jamaica’s infrastructure including its major airports and new highways, that have improved access to remote parts of the island, have encouraged investment. To keep up the momentum, the Jamaican Tourist Board launched a new ad campaign with the tagline, “Once You Go, You Know”, focusing on the extraordinary diversity, culture and charms of the island – and designed to maintain that growth of the tourism industry.

Jamaica’s tourism officials estimate that overseas investment will add more than 5,000 rooms to the island’s inventory by 2007. In 2004, Spain’s RIU group opened more than 800 rooms between two properties in Negril, and they have plans for a further 850 in Ocho Rios in 2005. Sandals Whitehouse on the south coast, with 80 suites among its 360 rooms, welcomed its first guests in February. The Sunset Resort Group will launch Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort (formerly Renaissance Jamaica Grande) with 720 rooms, while Negril Cabins is open under the new name Sunset at the Palms Resort & Spa. Country Country in Negril, acquired by the owners of the Coyaba Resort, adds six rooms to the existing 14 this winter with another 50 expected by 2006; while a new SuperClubs hotel, Rooms on the Beach (formerly Club Jamaica) opens in November with 104 rooms and suites. Other major projects underway or in the works include:

Rose Hall Expansion

In 2004 Prime Minister P J Patterson broke ground for a US$850 million hotel project in the Rose Hall area of St James, just beyond the Wyndham. It is a joint venture between Rose Hall Developments Limited and Iberostar, a Spanish hotel chain that presently operates in the Dominican Republic, United States, Spain, Greece and Turkey. According to chairman of the Iberostar Group, Miguel Fluxa, his company will be constructing three hotels over a five-year period, resulting in 950 new rooms at Rose Hall. These properties will cater mainly to Europeans. Iberostar will spend US$200 million in the first phase, to construct a 350-room hotel that is scheduled to be on the market and ready for business in winter 2006. The hotel will feature, among other things a swim-up bar, a theatre bar and cigar bar. Rose Hall Developments and the Resort Properties Group announced plans in mid- February 2005 for The Palmyra Resort & Spa at Rose Hall, located next to the Ritz- Carlton on 16 acres of pristine waterfront. The Palmyra will stretch along one-half mile of Caribbean ocean and includes 26 villas and 504 one-, twoand three-bedroom condominium units. “This is the last of the great beachfront properties,” said Robert T. Trotta, moving force behind the Resort Properties Group. “The Palmyra presents the perfect occasion to create a sustainable, luxury community that celebrates the island’s resources through architecture, amenities and experience. We’re pleased to offer a ground floor real estate opportunity in a culturallyunmatched seaside haven.” Groundbreaking for the first phase of development, consisting of two condo buildings, the Palmyra E’SPA, infinity pool and beach is set for spring 2005, with the project reaching completion in late 2006. Also under construction are the ‘Shoppes at Rose Hall’, an upscale shopping, dining and entertainment complex.

Trelawny Development

The most ambitious project underway in Jamaica is the US$1.2 billion Harmony Cove development located between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. This 1,400-acre beachfront property will include three major luxury hotels, three themed boutique resorts, two golf courses, more than 200 exclusive residential homes (manors and villas), upwards of 200,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space, as well as a world-class, 300-slip marina and private airstrip at Braco. Rumours have even circulated that Donald Trump, is looking to secure a licence from the Government to operate a casino in Harmony Cove. Other projects in Trelawny parish include, AM Resorts four hotels that will create 1,700 rooms and Grupo Pinero’s three new hotels totaling 1,800 rooms in nearby St. Anne.

I love Lucea

Prime Minister P J Patterson announced in 2004 that plans are well advanced for the acquisition of a property on the eastern side of the Lucea harbour in Hanover for the construction of a 1,500-room fivestar hotel by yet another Spanish hotel chain. Patterson also confirmed that design work for the construction of the Lucea Shipping Pier was progressing satisfactorily, and that negotiations were taking place for the acquisition of a parcel of land to facilitate the development; this would include a cruise ship facility. “I am sure that the development of this part of Hanover between the harbour and the hotel makes progress for Lucea and its environs irreversible,” said the prime minister.

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