Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
LOCATED IN the hills of Westmoreland, Mountambrin Estate is arguably one of rural Jamaica's many hidden treasures and is a place where nature and art co-exist in beautiful harmony, with craft pieces from resident sculptor Lebert Lee and paintings from owner, ophthalmologist, Dr Rus Gruhlke, featured in a picturesque atmosphere.
Canute Gruhlke, son of Gruhlke, who has recently taken on the role of managing the property, is of the belief that it is time for this wonderfully kept secret to be shared with the world.
"My father acquired it in 1975, and from then on, he started developing it. The theatre was built in 1985, and in the 1990s, they started having concerts. First of all, the concerts were with artistes from overseas to give a little bit of western Jamaicans a taste of classical. When we think of the arts, we always think of Kingston because it's kind of the cultural epicentre of Jamaica.
"On the western side, we have the hotels and the beach, and stuff like that, and not much else in the classical arena. When he told me what he was trying to do, I was very impressed. I think he has made it work up until this point, so I'm just here to take it to the next level," Gruhlke told Rural Xpress.
With most of the emphasis having been placed on the classical concerts that have been held at the estate, Gruhlke said it is his aim to have more persons coming in to enjoy all that the property has to offer.
"It's a beautiful place if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kingston and don't necessarily want to go to the beach. You want to come, lay around, read a book, lay in a hammock, commune with nature in your privacy. I think this is the place to be. It's secluded; it's a wonderful oasis," he told Rural Xpress.
As a result of the majority of his staff members not having formal training, Gruhlke understands, however, that for Mountambrin to be a high consideration for visitors, it is important to have them trained in the art of customer service.
This has been set in motion as associate professor at Northern Caribbean University, Elaine Oxamendi Vicet, who is a certified trainer with HEART/Trust National Training Agency, and who was also certified as a trainer by then Jamaica Association of Training and Development, now the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica, has volunteered her time to offer training in excellent customer service and business ethics. Four workers of Mountambrin, including Gruhlke, have completed this training.
Gruhlke said it was important that he was a part of the training as well as his area of expertise is banking, and he has no formal training in management.
"I think what it did, especially for me, I think it gave me a better understanding of working with [the others] to know how to go about treating them on a daily basis and make sure that they get the training that they need. I have learned how to navigate dealing with different personalities that work for me."
PHOTOS BY LAUNTIA CUFF