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Milk River Hotel and Spa to get upgrade

Published:Wednesday | September 2, 2015 | 6:24 PM
Noel Arscott (right), minister of local government and community development, and Dr Wykenham McNeill (second right), minister of tourism and entertainment, are being assisted by Rose-Marie Carty, company secretary, during the signing the contract for the rehabilition of the Milk River Hotel and Spa. Others participating in the signing are (from left) Clive Wint, managing director, C&D Construction and Engineering Limited, and Paul Badresingh, acting executive director, TPDCo. The signing was held at the Ministry of Tourism yesterday.

THE WORLD famous Milk River Hotel and Spa in South West Clarendon is best known for its wondrous healing properties by the millions of people who travel across the world to visit the facility yearly.

The now 221-year-old property is said to be the number-one mineral bath in the world, leading First World countries such as France, England, and Switzerland.

However, the property is in need of urgent renovation and repairs if it is to still attract and accommodate visitors and all else who seek to benefit from the healing wonders of nature. The tourism ministry said the facility has not fully lived up to its potential as a result of its "ageing infrastructure, vulnerability to flooding, limited product/market differentiation, poor road conditions and other challenges which have hampered its viability".

Yesterday, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment signed a contract with C&D Construction and Engineering Company Limited for expenditure in excess of more than $50 million for the rehabilitation of the West Wing of the Milk River Hotel and Spa in Clarendon.

"This rehabilitation is the beginning of an exercise that will, in the medium term, contribute to the strategic brand positioning of this historic national attraction, with its unique mineral waters. It is expected to increase the revenue earning potential of Milk River Bath and Spa by enhancing its aesthetic appeal, expanding its range of services and increasing its marketability," Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill said yesterday.

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General manager of the facility, Diane Sommerville, says she is looking forward to have the place renovated to allow wheelchair access to the baths, repairs to the main building and a new lobby and spa area.

"Too much potential is in this place for us not to make use of it and ecotourism is a good way to start. Make it a place for the perfect getaway, not like so many others, which are about sun, sea and sand, but a place where persons can be at one with nature. We can make it into a nice little south-coast getaway," she said.

Rhea Banks of North Carolina, who said she has been visiting the Milk River Bath for more than a decade, has testified about the healing properties of the spa.

"I've been coming here every year for the last 14 years with the exception of only two years. Every time I come, I enjoy it. When I go into the bath, it makes me feel good. I feel rejuvenated, especially now that I'm sick. One thing is for sure, though, I will be coming at least once every year until I cannot come anymore," she said.

Rosalie Campbell Morris, another regular visitor, said she would love to see the facility renovated and have a look that is synonymous with its name.

"It needs somebody with vision to have this place up and running properly. They need to sell Jamaica and advertise this bath, because it is a top-of-the-line facility. We in central Jamaica should be benefiting from this because it is number one in the world," she argued.

"I have taken a lot of persons to come here and have a bath and they love it. I would really like to come here every month, but when I can I do come and treat myself to a bath and I feel rejuvenated," said Campbell Morris.

Milk River Bath and Spa has 20 rooms, of which only 13 are operable, nine mineral baths and a mineral pool.