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Trelawny poised to become Jamaica's next big resort area with wave of hotel developments

Published:Sunday | April 14, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre, blue suit), Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett (centre, white suit), Industry and Commerce Minister Audley Shaw (beside Bartlett) and Amaterra Group Chairman Keith Russell (second right) taking part in a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday for the construction of 8,000 hotel rooms by the Amaterra Group in Stewart Castle, Trelawny.

Trelawny is poised to become the next big resort destination, with the parish attracting billions of dollars in investment in hotel developments over the last several years.

The parish currently has over 2,000 hotel rooms, with more slated to come on stream over the next couple of years.

In November 2016, Royalton Luxury Resorts expanded its portfolio of modern all-inclusive properties with the 228-room Royalton Blue Waters, adjacent to the expanded Royalton White Sands in Cooper’s Pen.

Last October, the 315-suite Excellence Oyster Bay Hotel opened its doors, a US$110 million investment that is providing employment for some 1,500 persons.

Added to this is the development of Ocean Coral Spring by the Spanish hotel chain H10, for which ground was broken in February.

The H10 project is part of a US$250 million development, which, when completed will comprise two five-star, all-inclusive hotels, with 940 rooms.

“It’s now Trelawny’s turn to shine,” said Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who broke ground for the 800-room luxury Amaterra Resort in Stewart Castle on Friday.

Amaterra is part of an integrated resort and residential development being undertaken on 1,000 acres of prime beachfront property located between Jamaica’s two largest resort centres – Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

It includes construction of villas, condominiums, entertainment parks, commercial facilities as well as a special economic zone for logistics, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), manufacturing and support facilities.

Holness told the business leaders and investors at the groundbreaking that the Government is “very impressed” with the economic potential of Trelawny.

He noted that nearly $3 billion has been earmarked for further development of  the capital, Falmouth.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the slate of hotel developments in Trelawny form part of a “record wave” of investments in the country’s tourism sector.

He noted that the industry has seen some US$875.91 million in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) between 2015 and 2017, representing 32 per cent of total FDIs over those three years.

“We can now add the Amaterra brand, which happens to be a local brand with international partners, to the list of local resorts,” he said.

Senior strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright, said that “what is currently taking place in Trelawny has been a long time in the making”, adding that the Amaterra project is “massive beyond words.”

“This is a project that will have a multifaceted and positive impact on not just Trelawny but all of Jamaica,” he noted.

“It cannot be overstated the amount of jobs this project will be creating and the kind of positive impact it will have on the parish. Trelawny is now definitely the place to work, live and do business,” he added.

The Amaterra development is the vision of Trelawny businessman and developer Keith Russell.

Russell said with the realisation that the project would require international expertise in financing, construction, and development management, he embarked on “creating a team of project partners with a resume of successfully completing hospitality and residential projects in the Caribbean and throughout the world.”

These stakeholders include Tourism and Leisure Development International (TLDI) and Rexton Capital Partners Limited (Rexton).

“Trelawny and its rich history was a natural sell and what the Amaterra Group has put together in the form of international partners and investors will be a game changer for this parish,” he noted.

Russell said Rexton provides financial oversight and manages investor relations.

“It also provides Amaterra with unmatched access to the capital partnerships that will drive the successful development of the company’s land holdings,” he added.

For his part, Mayor of Falmouth, Colin Gager, hailed the development that is coming to Trelawny.

“The town of Falmouth and the parish of Trelawny have always played a pivotal role in nation building and is a major catalyst for the stimulation of growth for sustainable development,” he pointed out.

“It is also the home of the world’s largest cruise shipping vessels and has been repeatedly voted as the favourite destination port by passengers and crew members,” he added.