Devon Dick: Yeah Moon!
Recently, Mary and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary at Moon Palace hotel, formerly Sunset Jamaica Grande. It was good that this Mexican-owned and operated hotel incorporated the Jamaican phrase 'Yeah Mon' into its promotional literature and visitors' lingua.
'Yeah mon' is a popular, short and catchy Jamaican phrase meaning 'okay' or 'no problem', or it is just an indication that a statement is understood. The hotel created a hybrid 'Yeah Moon', meaning Moon Palace is okay.
This affirmation of Jamaican culture is important in the tourist industry, and foreign-owned companies should ensure that. Moon Palace seems to be making an attempt at supporting Jamaica. As part of the package, one is served world-famous Devon House Ice Cream and Jamaican Wata. Though not unique to Moon Palace, the hotel offers Jamaican cuisine, and its buffet line features local fruits such as soursop and naseberry. One can also experience dolphins and sharks akin to the Dolphin Cove experience. It augurs well for the Jamaican economy when the hotel industry uses good Jamaican products.
Equally important is that Moon Palace has retained the staff, including the competent Clifton Reader as general manager, who were employed to the hotel under the previous management. It was also good that so many young people are involved in the hotel operations. Many of the employees have visited the hotel headquarters in Mexico to experience the ethos of the Palace brand. In addition, Mexicans, including Elias Lopez and Felipe, who have worked with the Palace Hotels in Mexico, have come to Jamaica to share their knowledge and experience, and when their work is done here they will go back home. It is hoped that the mentality of the Mexicans will be in sync with that of the Jamaicans since we are both classified as Third World. Hopefully, all the workers will be able to participate in a pension plan.
On entering the hotel, one senses the start of a celestial experience, with Garth and his team offering free valet service with a willingness to retrieve items from one's vehicle during one's stay. The lobby area is now enclosed and the ambience gives a feeling that one is entering a Palace. These enclosed areas will, no doubt, use more energy but there are energy-saving features such as the air-conditioning units in the bedrooms and suites going off automatically once the door to a balcony is opened.
There is an attempt to create a five-star hotel. There is now a Japanese restaurant with experienced chefs such as Gary, who puts on a terrific teppanyaki show for his dinner guests. There is a 24-hour cafe serving some of the most delectable crepes; a panini station; a sushi bar and gluten-free pastry and other foods for the discerning taste buds. The hotel has the only Flow Rider in the island for persons wishing to ski on this man-made equipment; the largest spa; spacious gym; martini bar; a refrigerator in every bedroom with a mini bar which is refreshed daily; room service at no additional cost. Entertainment and recreational facilities abound for all ages. I even observed adults accessing and using the areas of amusement for kids and teenagers.
I missed the swinging bridge which has been replaced. I noticed that while the kids' menu has one Mexican fare, there is no Mexican restaurant.
The hotel had good occupancy and is building two-bedroom and three-bedroom villas for the affluent. The hotel, through its club membership system, has access to another 2,000 properties worldwide, which potentially means more tourists from different destinations.
David, a restaurant manager, who has wide experience in the industry, predicted that by next year, Moon Palace will be the hotel of choice in Jamaica. Few people will bet against him once certain glitches are ironed out; teething pains dealt with and the missteps with certain local contractors corrected. Then, your visit to the hotel could be an 'over the moon' experience.
We were planning for our celebration to be at one of our favourite hotels. We made the trip to the moon ... er ... Moon Palace and have to say 'Yeah Moon' to the renovated and redecorated hotel.
PS: Happy New Year and may 2016 be peaceful and prosperous.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.