Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Wordsworth Watson - Half Moon’s ‘005’

Published:Tuesday | July 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera/ Senior Gleaner Writer
Wordsworth Watson
Wordsworth Watson, Half Moon’s estate manager, marks the special occasion of his 60th anniversary at Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, with (from left)Richard Whitfield, retired managing director of Half Moon, member of the board of directors and chairman of Half Moon’s Pension Fund; Peter Kellond, managing director of Half Moon Bay Ltd, and member of the board of directors; and Guy Steuart III, chairman of Half Moon’s Board of Directors.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Shernett Crichton appreciates his commitment to hard work and humility in leading others to succeed. Erma Clarke admires his wittiness. And Myrtle Dwyer describes him as the kindest person she has ever met.

All three women have worked with the country's longest-serving tourism worker, Wordsworth Watson, between 27 and 35 years, respectively.

Watson is celebrating 60 years at Montego Bay's Half Moon Hotel and 64 years in the island's number-one industry: tourism.

"We worked together for 34 years, and it was a pleasure. He got me into loads of trouble, but he made life easier through his willingness to cooperate. He was the first person I met on the job, and he made sure that I was always well-cared for, especially for my meals. He had an answer for the older guys who would want to be disrespectful," said Dwyer, who now owns and operates Glamour DMC, a destination-management company.

For Clarke, human resource director at the St James resort, who fondly labels the with veteran the '005', Watson has survived throughout the years simply because of his personality.

"There is never a dull moment when he is around. He is knowledgeable on whatever he does. he is giving, caring, considerate to anyone in need, particularly to the young persons' educational quest," she shared.

And Crichton, operations director and the youngest among the women fortunate enough to share the joy of just being in the midst of a man whose passion for the industry and the people he works with, says that he is an asset to Half Moon.

"He is a brand ambassador - he tells the Half Moon story so well and epitomises it. It is one of dedication to the uplifting and promotion of Jamaican culture and people, while offering discerning travellers the opportunity for remarkable experiences and memories," she said.

 The ideal person to have as steward of the landscape and the physical environment

Wordsworth Watson, who is estate manager at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, has responsibility for the 400 acres of property and two miles of beachfront.

"He is the ideal person to have as the steward of the landscape and the physical environment. He manages a team of approximately 120 people from beach attendants to landscapers. He is in charge of keeping the property optimally running, coastal upkeep, and he's a core member of the emergency response team," said operations director Shernett Crichton.

She said that one of the resort's key projects has had a long-lasting impact on the property and its eco-sustainability, and it was executed by Watson.

"The channelling of storm water and rainfall flowing into a dam, where the water is collected and used for irrigation, is one of our main projects. The dam was named after him - Watson's Dam," she said.

 

UNIVERSITY OF LIFE

 

Having journeyed through the ranks in his 60 years at the resort, today, Watson is being hailed as a voice that should be heard in the wider tourism industry.

"Mr Watson should be used to address the young persons joining the industry as he has an illustrious story to tell. His life depicts true dedication and hardwork, which have led to success," Myrtle Dwyer, who owns and operates Glamour DMC, told The Gleaner.

Wordsworth Watson has no problem with this idea, having served the likes of Queen Elizabeth II; her sister, Princess Margaret, son, Prince Charles; and other royalty, spanning the globe, as well as world leaders such as Cuba's Fidel Castro; and Jamaica's prime ministers Alexander Bustamante, Norman Washington Manley, Michael Manley, P.J. Patterson, Bruce Golding and Portia Simpson Miller.

Names such as Desmond Tutu roll off his tongue, and he admits that working with the queen taught him a lot about protocol.

"While going to school, I was told about the queen but never knew the day would come when I would serve her. In fact, having dealt with so many personalities has prepared me like a university would," said Watson.

Special memories of the early years

Before working with the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, St James, Wordsworth Watson spent four years at the Gloucester House (now Doctor's Cave Beach Hotel). His memories of those years are as special.

"When I started in the industry, the Chamber of Commerce was in charge of tourism, then the Tourist Board was created," he revealed, noting that while at Gloucester House, the board members were regular clients who held their meetings there.

From as early as those days, Half Moon was renowned as the number-one resort, and every Monday evening, Watson said that he would watch a pick-up pass by his workplace with the steel band contracted to perform there.

"They would play at Half Moon's barbecue, but they would play the steel band from the truck. This was what spurred the excitement in me, in wanting to work here," he said.

Before long, he was employed as a busboy, whose job it was to mop the floor, clean the brass, and look after the buffet for three months.

"When I came, there were only 25 guests in house, but because England had opened up to the Caribbean and workers were migrating, they decided to take me," he stated.

Watson witnessed the growth of the property from 35 acres to 400 acres and worked with the longest-serving managing director at the property, Heinz Siminitsch.

"Heinz was brought in for one year, but he ended up spending 39 years. He was behind a lot of the growth at the resort. We moved from 100 employees to 800," he remembered.

Watson also pointed out that Curtis Stueart, one of the original owners, was the backbone of the group of 16 Americans who originally started Half Moon.

Today, Steuart's son, Guy, II has taken over as chairman of the resort.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com