Wed | Apr 26, 2017

Couple opens bed and breakfast at Cardiff Hall

Published:Sunday | July 26, 2015 | 7:00 AMTameka Gordon

Cardiff Hall, St Ann, will soon have another hospitality offering called The Runaway, a four-room bed and breakfast spot being developed by a young couple from Brooklyn, New York.

Jeff Belizaire and Kalisa Martin, both of whom have Caribbean roots, have merged their marketing and culinary backgrounds to create a homey hideaway just next door to the Runaway Bay HEART Trust/NTA academy on lands owned by Kalisa's family.

The 3,000-square foot B&B is due to open this September and will offer guests home-made meals and an "authentic touch of living in Jamaica the way locals do".

"Once we start to have guests, we will have excursions to local events in and around the area so it just won't be the regular tourist stuff but for people to live in Jamaica as though they are locals. That's what it's really about - an authentic experience," Belizaire told Sunday Business.

The coupled has pegged the design, furnishings, and food to be offered at The Runaway against an organic, environment-friendly pillar and hopes to lower its ecological footprint by composting, using solar panels for electricity, and other energy-efficient methods.

The Runaway was once a townhouse that is being converted to the B&B at a cost of just over US$150,000.

Renovations began in May. The facility will initially offer four rooms but will be expanded to eight by 2016, the couple said.

'EXCITING BUILDING'

"It's an existing five-year-old building with an expansive roof. So, basically, what's happening is that we are doing light renovations to convert it," said Belizaire.

Belizaire and Martin turned

to the online crowdfunding

site Kickstarter to raise money for the development. The

couple exceeded their goal of US$30,000 and ultimately raised over US$46,000 towards the venture.

"We are grateful about that," Martin said.

"Family members and friends have also invested, so we raised an additional US$30,000," Belizaire said, adding that whatever else is needed will be funded out of their pocket.

The couple has been living in Jamaica since October 2014 and will continue living next door to the B&B "because it's really important that people feel like they are visiting us in our home".

In their past professional lives, Belizaire ran a digital media marketing company, Reimagine Digital, while Martin holds degrees in food science and nutrition with formal training as a chef from the French Culinary Institute.

She also ran the operations of TastingTable.com and will design the menu for The Runaway.

The community-oriented B&B will take its staff of five from the HEART Trust/NTA Academy next door and has already formed an agreement with the training institution to be part of its industry connection programme.

"We will be a location where they will be training interns to work in various aspects of the hospitality business as they approach their graduation," Martin said.

The roof of The Runaway will also be converted to a garden, bar and lounge.

"We are transforming it so that it has a greenhouse; gardening area, where we will grow

all of our vegetables; a spa

area, where people can have massages; a workout area for yoga and spinning sessions; and a bar and grill, where we can do entertainment events and

dining," said Belizaire.

The B&B targets adventurers, foodies, and people who want an "authentic Jamaican experience and who care about their impact on the environment as well as the community impact", he said.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com