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Jamaica’s Future Looks BrightJune 10, 2010 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
A Hibiscus Suite at the Half Moon resort in Montego Bay
The Jamaican government clears the way ahead for the island’s first casinos. A new cruise port could revolutionize the small town of Falmouth—and bring in more visitors and revenue. These were just a few of the potential selling points Travel Agent made note of at the annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) in Montego Bay last month.
Casinos Get the Go-Ahead
Although the legislation for opening the first legal casinos in Jamaica’s history has been passed, there are still some minor matters to finalize. Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett told us these include setting up a committee to regulate gaming by, among other measures, establishing terms of distributing temporary licenses. He said the matter should be settled within the next five months so that the first casino is in operation by May 2011.
Bartlett added that there will most probably be three to five hotels that operate casinos. To qualify as a possible host for a casino, a hotel must guarantee an investment of approximately $1.5 billion and have at least 150-200 rooms.
A Possible Cruise Revival
Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association President Wayne Cummings said last year was the worst ever for the cruise industry in Jamaica. The island saw a 16.1 percent decrease in cruise visitors in 2009, he noted. Only the month of March didn’t record a decrease—it was flat compared to 2008. But that may change soon.
Travel Agent visited the site of the much anticipated port at Falmouth, a small town of roughly 4,000 people to the east of Montego Bay.
John Tercek, vice president of commercial development for Royal Caribbean Cruises and president of Falmouth Jamaica Land Co., spoke about the project and its expected impact on Falmouth and cruising in Jamaica in general.
Tercek noted that the port is owned by the Jamaica Port Authority and that Royal Caribbean is managing the project as well as investing in it. The port, which should be ready early 2011 with the first call scheduled for January 7 by Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, will cost approximately $125 million. Retail shops, jewelry stores, dining, an Appleton Rum tour, a Blue Mountain coffee tour and walking tours are to be developed in three more phases, which will also cost around $125 million, bringing the total to about $250 million. Tercek expects Falmouth’s population to grow to about 15,000-20,000 in a few years after the project is completed.
The port is being built to accommodate larger ships, specifically Royal Caribbean’s 18-story Oasis of the Seas. The smaller ships will continue to call at Port Antonio, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, bringing Jamaica four active ports, the most of any island in the Caribbean.
SuperClubs to Rebrand Hedonism III
SuperClubs resorts will undergo yet another rebranding less than a year after its major Breezes rebranding in November. “With the successful Breezes rebranding, we’ve listened to our guests and travel partners yet again and, to meet their needs and further support Jamaica’s growing tourism sector, Hedonism III will relaunch as Superfun Resort & Spa,” said Paul Pennicook, president of International Lifestyle Inc., the worldwide representative of SuperClubs resorts.
While being revamped from August 22 through its relaunching date of October 14, bookings will be honored at the original Hedonism II. Pennicook said the reason to rebrand Hedonism III was to “appeal to a larger segment of the market and to decrease the dependency on the very narrow niche.”
The resort will have a clothing-optional beach, but will be a bit more toned down than the Hedonism brand. The resort will target adults 18 and older looking for a more affordable getaway.
Rates will be lowered, but motorized sports, scuba diving and airport transfers will no longer be included. Also, only local liquor (non-premium) brands will be included.
The rebranding also stems from the fact that Breezes Runaway Bay is next door and SuperClubs officials didn’t want to have two Breezes resorts so close to one another. As far as opening another Superfun Resort & Spa is concerned, Pennicook said it’s “too early to tell.”
Air Jamaica Sale Spares Service
They allow a free check-in for two bags and offer a slew of other incentives. Right now, it is still called Air Jamaica and the transition is expected to be completed in a year.
Though the service is great, legroom on Air Jamaica’s economy class is a bit cramped compared to other airlines. We recommend booking seats in the emergency exit rows for clients.
Half Moon Still Holds Up
While attending JAPEX, we stayed at the Half Moon resort in Montego Bay. Our room was #18, which is one of the 68 Hibiscus Suites. It comes with a fantastic balcony overlooking the ocean, a bathroom the size of most Manhattan living rooms and a bed big enough for three people.
The only shortcoming was the TV—it wasn’t a flat-screen, in contrast to the other modern touches of the room. However, we weren’t the only ones to observe this anomaly. By next year, all rooms will have LCD TVs, which we have been told are currently available only in the Spa Suites and Imperial Suites.
Agents can contact Reservations Manager Jackie Gordon or Associate Director of Group Sales Sharon Logan at 876-953-2211.
|SuperClubs' Hedonism III will be relaunched on October 14 as Superfun Resort & Spa|