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Growth & Jobs | New Year, new tourism product ... Artistry, skilled craftsmanship of local professionals on show

Published:Tuesday | December 26, 2017 | 12:59 AMChristopher Serju
The entrance to the Welcome Centre of the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience.
In this image released by Wray & Nephew Limited on April 2, 2017, Master Blender Joy Spence poses with the rum named in her honour - the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend. Spence is a world-renowned master blender who has worked with Wray & Nephew for more than 35 years.
Wray & Nephew Chairman Clement Lawrence.

It’s billed as the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience but when the well-anticipated top-of the line south coast tourism product opens on January 18, it will also reflect the artistry and skilled craftsmanship of local professionals and tradesmen. And that is by design, according to Clement ‘Jimmy’ Lawrence, chairman of J Wray and Nephew.

“The grounds are beautifully landscaped.  We got our local contractors, architects, building contractors – mechanical, electrical, plumbing services, all locally.  That’s what we choose to do because we really believe in this country,” he told Growth and Jobs. And the St Elizabeth-based company is expanding its investment and partnership with neighbouring communities.

“I think there are just about 30 persons employed there and not to mention the other support services that we are going to have to engage. So, for example, the produce for the meals, we’re making arrangements with partners in the farming sector,” Lawrence pointed out.

The recently constructed three-room craft market situated in a separate building across from the Appleton Tour is another component of the company’s overarching plan to ensure that the communities benefit in direct, tangible ways.

“If we don’t have partnerships and engage the community, all of our efforts could go to nought. So what we are seeking to do is to get as much involvement. We don’t want for it to conflict with what we are doing, rather we want for it to complement and [to have] a level of engagement to there. So between that and the sport field we made a significant contribution to the local economy,” the chairman explained.


Inclusive approach to tourism

“We built a small community pavilion centre and there is a huge playing field to the left out there," Clement ‘Jimmy’ Lawrence, chairman of J Wray and Nephew, said of  his new tourism product. "We’ve built a rest stop for the bus drivers so as not to leave them out. Sometimes these people are forgotten, we don’t do that. And, of course, we have photo ops that are littered across the place so that visitors can take photos,” he added.

This inclusive approach is consistent with the investment strategies of the company which has long provided employment for generations, through its cane field, sugar milling and rum distilling operations. The loss of preferential payment for sugar cane supplied to the European Union which took effect in October will result in a significant reduction in earnings from that source.

However, J Wray and Nephew, through the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience is moving with the times, laying the groundwork through diversification for its continued growth, as well that of the people of St Elizabeth, who have long been integral to its economic success.