Jamaicans flocking Wata Land water park
LODGE, St Mary:
Gobind Dansinghani's original plan was to build a new tourist attraction in the White River Valley area in the deep rural community of Lodge in St Mary.
But having built the attraction, Dansinghani now realises that Jamaicans have literally taken it over.
But that's cool - in more ways than one.
"When you're up here, you feel an air conditioning type of wind, and when you go down to the riverside it's even cooler, and if you look around, you see the natural lush greenery," explains Dansinghani, in describing the atmosphere at Wata Land.
"And yes, initially we were looking at it more like an ecotourism resort whereby we try and bring in foreigners, thinking that we wouldn't get as much local support, but right now I don't worry about foreign support," he admits.
The reality is, Jamaicans have been flocking to Wata Land in droves and, with the summer already proving to be very hot, hundreds of visitors are accepted at the water park each day, and this was evident when The Gleaner visited recently. And their reviews online have been great.
"Great attraction for adults and kids ... we had fun, can't wait to go back," writes one satisfied customer on Wata Land's Facebook page.
Whether riding the slides, manoeuvring the obstacle course, kayaking, swimming, hiking or just relaxing by the riverside, the experience continues to be good at Wata Land.
But before Wata Land, there was Rivva Riddim.
Rivva Riddim was a riverside area that existed before the water park was built, consisting of a restaurant area, bar, stage and seating by the river. Created by Dansinghani primarily to host his friends while construction of the water park was taking place, Rivva Riddim became known as a show venue, hosting several events.
Before Rivva Riddim, the land was basically waste, being abandoned farmland. The land isn't completely void of crops though, as, according to Dansinghani, "We've created a little eco farm growing like cabbage and so forth".
Despite the abandoned, overgrown appearance of the 40-acre property when he first saw it, Dansinghani says: "One of the reasons I wanted here was because of the water, the river runs through the property. Basically, I fell in love with the place because of the water. I quickly saw what I could do with the place. Me and my wife and my three kids, we came here and literally fell in love with the place."
The vision to create Wata Land was hatched immediately upon viewing the land and Dansinghani had no doubt that the plan would succeed.
"I believe in best practices. I'm an engineer by profession, so what I did, I basically took the best out of all the other attractions and fit them in here, and luckily, by the grace of God, the land was configured to be able to take it.
"I am a customer of many water-based systems, so what I did both internationally and locally, I visited a lot of these places. One of my favourite places was Dunn's River, and just sitting in the water just motivates me. One thing, when you do something you must always do it for yourself first - this is for you, you love it - then others will love it, too."
Plans are afoot to expand the facility. This will see the addition of a bounce-about, kiddies water slide, zip lines and more.