Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Rose Hall Resort and Spa, Montego Bay.
On the heels of a US$40 million (J$2.9 billion) renovation, Montego Bay's Rose Hall Resort and Country Club was this month branded a Hilton property, the hotel's general manager, Dermot Connolly, has confirmed.
The 488-room hotel has been renamed the Rose Hall Resort and Spa, and tagged 'a Hilton resort'.
The property, which sits on 400 acres on the eastern outskirts of greater Montego Bay, was developed by John Rollins in the 1970s and operated in the early years as the Intercontinental Hotel.
The resort changed ownership several times, and was, up to three years ago, managed under contract by the Wyndham hotel group.
It was purchased in 2005 by United States asset managers, Blackstone Group, which also owns Hilton Hotels Corporation, a company it acquired in late 2007.
The Rose Hall property continues to be managed by LXR Luxury Resorts and Hotels, under a franchise licence agreement with Hilton.
"We are very excited about the integration of LXR and Hilton, because we can now take advantage of the worldwide-reaching arm of the Hilton reservation network," Connolly said Wednesday in an interview with Sunday Business.
Hilton's brand is now on two Jamaican hotels, the other in New Kingston, but that property is managed by Hilton on behalf of Delroy Howell's First Financial Caribbean, which bought the hotel for about US$50 million (J$3.5 billion) in May.
The evolution of the Rose Hall beachfront resort, once a legendary 18th-century sugar plantation, includes a new spa and pool environment, and renovated guest-rooms, "bringing the unique attributes of a newly redesigned resort alongside the far-reaching benefits of one of the world's most prestigious hotel brands", boasted Connolly.
The hotel employs about 650 staff.
Historic charm, hospitality
Commenting on the move, Jeff Diskin, Hilton's senior vice-president of brand management, said in a release that the Rose Hall Resort and Spa has long embodied the historic charm and hospitality made famous by Jamaica.
The all-inclusive resort features 54 holes of championship golf, including a Robert Von Hagge-designed 18-hole course; and the Sugar Mill Falls - a water park with natural lagoons, terraced pools, a 'lazy river' and cascading waterfalls. The resort also offers an 1,800-foot stretch of private, secluded beach.