By Denise Clarke, Staff Reporter
COME NEXT year, the Half Moon Hotel in Rosehall, St. James, will be instituting a five-day work week, in a bid to improve working conditions for its over 700 employees.
The managing director Richard Whitfield told the workers about the new arrangement at the hotel's staff awards ceremony on Wednesday night.
"With the encouragement of our Board of Directors we have implemented some capital projects that are aimed at bringing Half Moon back to the forefront of luxury resorts. We have also made some improvements in working conditions which we revised at the last annual general meeting but I wasn't quite sure did you or did you not like the idea of working five days a week," said Mr. Whitfield.
To that, the staff erupted in cheers and applause. The five-day work week will come into effect early next year.
Minister of Industry and Tourism Aloun Assamba, who was the guest speaker at the ceremony, praised Half Moon for its innovativeness in an industry where employees were used to working long hours. Typically, employees in the hotel sector work six days a week.
Mrs. Assamba also sought to encourage hoteliers to work with the cruise ship sector, in an effort to convert more cruise passengers into stop over visitors.
"You who are in the land based tourism business ought not to be afraid of the cruise business," said Minister Assamba. "I see the cruise passenger as somebody who is on a one-way (familiarisation) trip. They will see what a beautiful place we have here, they will learn about Jamaica and they will come back and stay..." Several Half Moon employees were rewarded with cash awards and other prizes, for excelling way above the call of duty. Female bartender Aileen Watson was judged Employee of the Year and received $35,000 along with a host of other prizes. Awards also went to the 'Manager of the Year' and 'Supervisor of the Year', along with the Managing Director's Award for a member of the hotel's executive, who this year was Mrs. Erma Clarke, the human resources manager.
The hotel, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, has just spent J$480 million for the construction and refurbishing of its rooms and facilities. The work saw the demolition of three blocks of pre-existing beachfront suites and cottages, making way for 68 new rooms and suites, an enlarged pool, with a swim-up pool bar and a waterfall attraction.