San Souci's fabulous 5th birthday
Chester Francis-Jackson, Gleaner Writer
When you are in the tourism/hospitality business, you know you are on to a good thing when, after five years of operation, you have built up a repeat guest business that not only rivals the competition but surpasses others.
Such is the short history of Couples San Souci on the border between St Ann and the picturesque St Mary.
But there should be no surprises as the Couples brand was first launched in 1949 by the late visionary, tourism international power player and father of Jamaica's modern tourism, Abe Issa. At a time when many thought him imprudent, he launched the now famous Couples flagship resort, Couples Tower Isle, a stone's throw up the road from Couple's Sans Souci. And since its launch, the latter has grown from strength to strength, creating a strong sense of brand loyalty.
Truth be told, it's not difficult either to see why visitors to our shores who have guested at any of the Couples resorts would bond and become multi-repeat guests over time. Not only are the resorts guest-friendly and harmonious environmentally, they all possess that great sense of elan and style that is pretty close to being unequalled.
Without a doubt, Couples San Souci is one of the finest resorts ever built on the island and represents a tropical oasis with hints of rainforest styled allure, towering trees, draped with flowing vines running down to the base of the trees and into little rivulets and fresh water pools.
Then there's the fabulous white sand beach and its famous bar and grill, looking out to the azure of the Caribbean. At the best of times, it lulls one into a highly relaxed mode to simply sit back and sip on a perfectly chilled flute of champagne while listening to the splashing of the waves hitting the sand or chatter of birds all around.
The free-flowing au naturel beach bar and grill with its own pool is neatly tucked away from prying eyes and located across from the gigantic lily pond, in an area of the property dominated by towering breadfruit trees and almonds that make for an idyllic, but oh so active gateway to commune with nature. It all makes leaving the resort at the end of your stay that much more difficult. It's no wonder that many guests book their return trip before completing the one they are enjoying.
Anyway my dears, a few Fridays ago the owners, directors and friends of the Issa family and Couples Resorts joined General Manager Pierre Bataglia and his staff for the resort's fifth anniversary celebration, and pumpkins, what a truly fabulously exciting experience!
Dears, in a word - flawless!
Hosted under the theme 'A Night of Cultural Fusion', the affair was all that, and then some!
Luvs, with the Jamaican motto being the inspiration for the evening's celebration, the subtext being 'Out of Many, One Culture', the affair proved not only a fabulous celebration, but also an evening of high style, showcasing the very rich tapestry of the Jamaican cultural experience.
The evening began with a cocktail prelude. There was no escaping the beauty of the moment, the resort, or the import of the guests as the watchword was pampering, and precious angels, did they lay it on!
Dears, it was the night when bamboo came into its own as an object of beauty and a decorator's tool as it was used to line the red-carpet walkway that blended into a sand path, to access the reception area.
Now, talk about putting on the Ritz - from Indian dancers, the Libido Band, to the flawless violinist Jessica Yap, the entertainment was nothing short of magical. Yap, la belle petite of the ball, and for my word, does she know how to play that violin!
From the reception, it was then on to the main lawn, the cosy beach bar as the backdrop; the main stage decorated with towering bamboo poles, lit to cast their shadows of beauty on the proceedings, and my dears, talk about effect! Bamboo has never looked so fine dressed as towering lanterns to create a fabulous Olympic-style effect.
The hotel's award-winning chefs served up fare that reflected their prize-winning exploits in a culinary feast. It was beyond compare and the menu ran the entire gamut of ethnic dishes, and then some!
The entertainment was superb, as by popular demand the talented Jessica Yap was brought back from her first stint at the Lily Pond, and performed like a musical genius to rapturous applause. The multi-ethnic/multiracial musical band Libido, out of Florida, was show-stopping good, and then some!
Pumpkins, not many guests came out in their dancing shoes, but it was as if the mantra was: 'Before good music goes a-wasting, we will suffer a few blisters, as dears, guests not only sang along to old favourites and contemporary dance arias, they partied up a storm. After many encores, guests simply moved to the beach grill where they continued dancing up a glow into the wee hours of the morning. And if the entertainment onstage were not enough, Luis and Mary-Ann Rosa were flawlessly in sync as they gave a master class in salsa and the hustle as they danced the night away much to the envy of guests who were reduced being mere bystanders.
Among those out, sharing in the fab festivities, were: Carole Issa Cartade and sibling Suzanne Issa; custos of St Mary, The Honourable Bobby Pottinger and son Howard; SuperClubs VP Sue McManus; socialites Anthony and Jeannie Watson and son James; north coast powerhouse Onesto Maffesanti; Anthony Issa and his wife, the beautiful Cindy Issa, in from Florida for the occasion; the fab couple Dave and Mary Crooks, in from New Hamshire; Karl von Cork; Chris and Jeanine Tribley; and banker Errol Maloney.
Representing the Couples Resorts administrative family were: CEO Couples Resort Glenn Lawrence; VP Operations of Couples Resorts Gary Stephens; Couples Romance Officer and Senior VP Randy Russell; Darin Meder; group public relations director, the charmingly lovely Alexandra Ghisays; the resort's regional engineer Cary Natoo; Operations Manager Couples Sans Souci, Kyle Mais; sales team leader, the lovely Michelle Gordon; the lovely Delouise Fong; and several others.