Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Reviving tourism in the east

Published:Wednesday | February 25, 2015 | 2:00 AM
Errol Hanna
Entrance leading to the Cliff Hanger
One of the log cabins at Rass Craig
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Hometown boy, Errol Hanna, is pursuing his life-long dream of generating interests in East Portland, the parish where tourism started.

Hanna is investing in the construction of vacation homes and cabins, to attract stop-over visitors and honeymooners.

The Portland businessman, who purchased the Rass Craig property in 1992, which comprises seven acres of beach-front property overlooking the Caribbean Sea, encountered many challenges including a sliding dollar, before deciding to kick-start the long overdue development.

"Portland is dear to my heart," he stated, adding that, "It is also the most beautiful parish islandwide with its lush vegetation, pristine beauty, and friendly people".

This property is probably the most picturesque and it is neatly situated on a cliff. The first block of vacation homes and rooms is under construction, and upon completion, 17 rooms will be added to the already 450 or so rooms that are available in the parish as it relates to occupancy."

And with the opening of Cliff Hanger Restaurant, Lounge, and Grill in August 2014, the local people, including business operators and hoteliers, along with tourists, continue to flock the facility, while partaking in fine dining, socialising, and enjoying the ambience.

"This is a true example of fine dining at an upscale facility in Portland, "commented former minister of information, Daryl Vaz, who visited Cliff Hanger recently, accompanied by his wife, Ann-Marie.

Vaz added "This is a property enriched by its natural look and the use of local resources including bamboo, which is quite visible on its construction. The service is impeccable and the food is great. The lawn is captivated by its well preserved vegetation, and for me it is now one of the most sought after tourist attraction site in Portland."

Another high point for the Rass Craig property is its skilfully constructed log cabins - resembling a family home, with a swimming pool and a bar area, for those inclined to savour the many alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The cabins, which are constructed using a variety of local wood (logs) including blue mahoe, pine, teak, and cedar, are preserved so as to adequately combat the salty air from the nearby sea.

With a staff compliment of approximately 35 persons including construction workers, ground staff, maintenance, kitchen, waiters, and bartenders, the operations at the Rass Craig empire has been fully endorsed by hoteliers, who have dined at the facility including Gordon Townsend of Bay View Villas and Spa, Marlyn Goofe of Simple Natural Resorts, and David Hemmings operator of Seaside Villas.

Hanna pointed out that a total of 70 rooms are to be constructed in total.

"Three other blocks will be constructed, thus adding another 53 rooms to the 17 that are currently under construction."

According to him, rooms are badly needed in Portland, but the present road condition, which is in a deplorable state, especially East Portland, does not augur well for tourism and, therefore, the basic infrastructure needs to be improved as it relates to road, light, and bushing of the roadway.

The units will comprise one, two and three bedrooms fitted with bathrooms, and this will create further job opportunities for at least 25 additional local residents.

"Our staff is highly trained in tourism and hospitality management, which allows them to relate to guests more efficiently. Additionally, we cater for weddings and receptions, special events, and other functions," said Hanna.