Jermaine Francis, Gleaner Writer
MILK RIVER, Clarendon:
THE DEPLORABLE road conditions on the south coast and those leading to the community of Milk River are being blamed for the lacklustre rate of visitors to Milk River Hotel and Spa, Clarendon.
The management of the property said the roads leading to the hotel and spa were always in a bad condition, but since the heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole, they got worse and nothing has been done to rectify the situation.
"The major challenge we face is the bad roads or, better yet, the non-existence of roads leading to the property. The first question potential visitors always ask is about the roads, and when some do get here, they say they are not coming back because of the state of the roads," Diane Sommerville, manager at the Milk River Bath Hotel and Spa told The Gleaner recently.
This view was further supported by Novrene Darlington, the executive assistant at the hotel and spa. Darlington said there are currently 13 rooms on the property and, at the time when The Gleaner visited the facility, all the rooms were empty.
"Now its midsummer, and this is normally our busiest period of the year, but now the rooms are all empty," Darlington lamented.
She said the property now has nine individual mineral baths. She also noted that the property houses a major pool across the road from the hotel, but that is currently being upgraded by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).
The hotel and spa is currently in the process of getting a face-lift from TPDCo, and several rooms and areas on the property have been refurbished and painted as part of its renewed thrust to attract tourists. But the management fears that all this work will be in vain if the roads are not fixed soon.
But, despite the bad roads, Darlington said some persons still visit for the hotel's internationally renowned spa treatments.
In addition to the mineral baths on the property, Darlington told The Gleaner that the hotel is still carving out its niche in health tourism by offering therapeutic massages, hot stone massages and natural hydrotherapy, which involves the use of the mineral bath to help in the relief of pains and some illnesses. She said several persons were gravitating toward hydrotherapy as it not only heals, but helps with the process of relaxation.
Althea Benjamin, who said she is a regular visitor to the spa, makes the trip at least once per month from St Andrew to relax at the bath.
"After all the stress at work, it's good to escape to somewhere like this that just relaxes you and frees your body, and it does help your skin to look young and rejuvenated," she said, adding that lately she has been having a cold frequently, so she will be visiting the property at least two times per month.