Tue | Jan 22, 2019

Moon Dance bought by Vagabond Group

Published:Monday | April 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Delius Shirley
Cindy Hutson

Western Bureau:

Florida-based developer Avra Jain has teamed up with former Jamaican hotelier Mary Phillips, as well as culinary artists Delius Shirley and Cindy Hutson, to acquire Negril's Moon Dance Resort.

Operating under Jain's Vagabond Group brand, the team takes control of the five-acre property, which boasts unparalleled vistas overlooking the Negril cliffs and the Caribbean Sea on June 1.

In a media release last weekend, Vagabond announced that the property will close for a four-month overhaul of its 33 rooms (which include four villas), restaurant, spa and public areas.

Following the property upgrades, the hotel will reopen on October 1, as The Cliff Hotel and Spa.

The decision to acquire the property, the Vagabond Group said in its release, is part of an expansion and mission to own unique properties that provide "magical" travel experiences.

"As a group, we know that Jamaica is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the Caribbean, and we believe the culture, people, beaches and the unrivalled sunsets are like none other in the Caribbean. This is where travellers will want to be, and we are confident in Mary, and the local team she is assembling and their ability to make the resort one of the most outstanding on the island," said Jain.

Phillips for years worked as second in command at the Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Hanover, and later as general manager at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, St Ann, where she spent 11 years.

Adding to the distinction of the property, Shirley and Hutson, operators of the multi-award winning Ortanique Restaurants in Coral Gables, Florida, Camana Bay on Grand Cayman Island, and Harbour Island, will be at the helm of the food and beverage operations at the resort.

Shirley is the son of international culinary icon, the late Norma Shirley, who passed away in 2010 but transferred her talent for tantalising taste buds to her son.

According to the Vagabond Group, chef Hutson, who discovered her love for cooking at age nine and who is the recipient of multiple coveted chef awards, will introduce various menus consisting of an international flair with Jamaican influences.

Phillips, who has been appointed managing director of the property, said her vision for the resort was to deliver an extraordinary experience that merges contemporary luxury with the understated elegance of island life.

"I'm very pleased to have these distinguished partners on-board who truly understand the value of a quality hospitality experience. Together we will elevate our standards for the property, taking it to the next level that Jamaica deserves. The level of product and service we will offer will not only benefit the property but also the local community and Jamaica's travel industry as a whole," she stated.