Learning to speak Spanish on Jamaica’s north coast

“Vaya con dios, mis amigos” means “Go with God, my friends”

Long ago, Jamaican hoteliers Butch Stewart (owner of the Sandals/Beaches chain) and the Issa family (owners of Superclubs/Breezes chain ) used to call for Jamaican Government to take tourism more seriously……they probably imagined that a massive increase in the island’s hotel rooms and visitor arrivals would be to their benefit…..

Sandals Ocho Rios ( 237 rooms)

As it turns out, the Spanish hotel chains (Riu, Pinero, Iberostar) are undercutting the Jamaican-owned chains at every turn…….they have more rooms, reservation systems that actually work and lower room rates…….Sandals is now trying to reposition itself upmarket in order to maintain its’ room rates……

Riu Ocho Rios (800+ rooms)

“Que sera, sera…” means “What will be, will be……”

In May 2006 Jamaican environmental groups (JET, NJCA) won a judgement against the Government for it’s failure to follow its own environmental regulations when it approved the construction of the Grupo Pinero’s Bahia Principe hotel. They probably imagined that the Government and its regulatory agencies would now proceed with greater care and attention to the long term environmental impact of building massive hotels all along the north coast.

As it turns out, with a general election looming,massive hotel projects are still being approved and construction begun immediately…. totally disregarding not only the environment, but labour relations and the health and safety of the workers.

No infrastucture ? No problema ! Number of rooms far exceeds the carrying capacity of the town/village/community where you plan to locate the hotel ? No problema !

And three people caught between a rock and a hard place:

(1) Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller

The rock ? The need to demonstrate that “she run things” by firing a few more P.J. cronies and by setting a new-fresh-totally-different direction for the government in order to win the next general election…..

The hard place ? The need to maintain party unity and keep long time PNP ministers, activists and financiers happy in order to have the money and internal support needed to win the next general election……

(2) Leader of the Opposition Bruce Golding

The rock ? Representing Jamaica’s most notorious garrison constituency, famed for its guns and dons…….(July 2001 violence)

The hard place ? Presenting an image as the leader best able to deal with Jamaica’s most pressing problem :- crime and violence…..

(3) DCP Mark Shields

The rock ? The investigation of the murder of the Bob Woolmer and the detailed, time consuming work involved in finding the killer – the eyes of the world are upon him. His reputation and his future are at stake…..

The hard place ? The explosion of violence around Jamaica, a bad omen for the general elections scheduled for later this year. As the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Crime, his reputation and his future are at stake…..

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5 thoughts on “Learning to speak Spanish on Jamaica’s north coast

  1. Heh, nice post – the alarming rate at which those hotels have been springing up (with little or no infrastructural development in the surrounding communities) is one of my pet peeves.

  2. I saw the big ass hotel [pinero i think] in Pear Tree Bay over the easter holiday and all I can say is OH. MY. GOD! The thing is HUUUUUUGGGEE! I am sure there are more rooms there than people in the surrounding 5 villages.
    Kudos for nice architecture and massing [no more Jamaica Grande mistakes] but really.. 1000 rooms?? sheesh.. I hear its not done either.. thats just phase one.
    DIOS MIO!!

  3. I was at a Riu H otel and the management services is bad/poor. No one answers phones. no one gets back to you. not good I WILL NOT RECOMMEND THE RIU HOTEL CHAIN TO ANYONE THE RIU HOTEL CHAIN NEEDS TO CARE ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS. ALSO THE SAFTY OFF THEIR STAFF…

  4. Stayed at both RIU this year in NEgril. The beaches are AMAZING, but the sevice varies drastically- one good and the other one exactly like above post.
    Stopped at the Bahia Principe on Sunday and I have to say it is the most charmless big ass hotel in Jamaica.

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