Rural Express: St Mary makes a splash in the water park world
Orantes Moore, Gleaner Writer
LODGE, St Mary:A NEW family-oriented water park in Lodge, St Mary, has the potential to become one of the island's most popular theme parks, according to the venue's owner and managing director, Gobind Dansinghani.
Wata Land, which is located 15 minutes from Ocho Rios and has been operating daily for the last three months, offers visitors access to an impressive aqua park, water slides, and the largest pool-lake in the Caribbean.
The venue is spread across 20 acres of lush grassland and, according to Dansinghani, compares favourably with any of the tourist attractions situated on the north coast tourist belt.
The 44-year-old engineer told Rural Xpress: "As a Jamaican who loves water, I have a very good idea of what's available, understand the concept behind Kool Runnings, and have been to Dolphin Cove, Mystic Mountain and Dunn's River Falls, which is one of my favourites because it's the most reasonably priced.
"Wata Land offers features that are nowhere else in Jamaica, such as a three-acre lake, which has a natural system and doesn't use any chemicals.
"We're also the only place in the Caribbean to have an aqua park designed by German watersports company Wibit, and slides from Synergy Water Park Rides, which is based in India.
"Children are really our focus, so we have a splash pad kids' centre for toddlers, people to watch over the kids, certified lifeguards, security guards, a football field, and for the adults: parking, music, two bars and two restaurants.
"We are offering families a different concept in entertainment and trying our best to accommodate everything in one land space.
As Dansinghani recalled how he first came across the estate on the Internet after months of property hunting, around 20 children and adults were swimming on the lake, relaxing in gazebos and scaling the inflatable aqua park.
The managing director and his partners have spent more than US$1 million developing Wata Land, but although the amusement park is already attracting customers, Dansinghani is reluctant to either host a grand opening or launch a major marketing campaign until all the paperwork is in order and staff-training completed.
"There are a lot more things to come, but at the same time, we have to be careful about getting carried away," he explained.
"We pretty much have our paperwork in place, but there are a few things left to sort out in terms of getting a licence from the Jamaica Tourist Board. They've been here and written a report, we're just waiting for them to schedule our Team Jamaica training."
As he prepares to establish his new theme park, Dansinghani claims to have been disheartened by the government-run National Housing Trust's purchase of another tourist attraction, Outameni.
He said: "I wonder if people really understand the implications of the Government trying to run a tourism centre? I think they went about it in the wrong way.
"The Government uses money to provide solutions to many, but it's different when you go into the private sector. They should be encouraging the private sector to do it and use the monies we gain to help develop our communities.
"Our nearest communities are Cascade, Mile End, Three Hills and Gayle, and once we are making a profit there is a lot more we will be able to do in those communities because St Mary is one of the poorest parishes."