Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
A day after accepting its first guests, the exclusive Trident hotel in Port Antonio, Portland, is reporting sold-out bookings until January 7 next year.
The Michael Lee-Chin-owned resort, which is being managed by Jon Baker's Geejam Collections, had a soft opening on Boxing Day, five years after the banker commenced refurbishing work on the property.
In fact, Baker has tagged the 13-villa resort, Geejam's flagship resort. In the past, Geejam operated under the Island Outpost umbrella. The resort is among a collection which includes Geejam Studios, the popular Blue Lagoon attraction, Trident Castle, Geejam Private Hotel and other ancillary businesses managed by Baker.
Lee-Chin has pumped approximately US$20 million into both Trident and the Castle property, Baker told The Gleaner yesterday.
The opening of the resort is part of the Port Antonio Renaissance being spearheaded by Lee-Chin and Baker. The two aim to ensure Port Antonio, the town that gave birth to Jamaica's tourist industry, is on a sustainable path. Once known as the home of the rich and famous, Port Antonio businesses and residents have complained over the years of neglect by successive governments.
"This renaissance has seen the refurbishment and redesign of the Trident; we are now planning to open an organic farm and plant nursery, which will all be sustained through the tourism sector," said Baker.
Next year, the Blue Lagoon will have added to it a heritage museum and botanical gardens. In addition, aiming to reclaim its former glory, the 'Renaissance' team has plans to restore writer of movies such as 'Green Beret' and 'Caddy Shack' Robin Moore's 1950s villas, located at the Blue Lagoon.
Lee-Chin has made available additional land to build public restrooms and parking facilities and access for persons who only want to visit the attraction for swimming.
The late Moore, like the late Errol Flynn, is among world-famous personalities to have invested in Port Antonio in the past.
Over the years too, accessing the resort town has been a challenge and Baker says he and his team are in discussions with the Government regarding the takeover of the Ken Jones aerodrome and getting night landing under way.
The announcement has been welcomed by Tourism and Entertainment Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill who described the move as a great addition to the tourism offerings in Portland.
"One of the things that Port Antonio needs is more rooms, but rooms of a certain type. We don't want it to become mass destination, but one that caters to premium clientele," said McNeill.
He noted that part of the difficulty with Portland over the years was double edged, such as infrastructural problems. He said places such as the closed Frenchman's Cove and Dragon Bay and Trident have value in terms of their names.
"Trident's opening is a great step in the right direction. With Port Antonio being the birthplace of tourism, we have to figure out how to make it happen," said McNeill.