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Dining by the river returns to Reggae Hill

Published:Friday | August 19, 2022 | 12:09 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
Reggae Hill scenes
Reggae Hill scenes
Reggae Hill
Reggae Hill
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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a shift in client base for several tourism entities in St Ann, which are now focusing more on the local market.

Reggae Hill, the tranquillising hideaway along the banks of the White River that separates St Ann and St Mary, has resumed its dining-by-the-river service, but is reaching out to locals.

Samuel Wieselberg, chairman of the group, said the pandemic caused the organisation to reinvent itself and return with even better service to clients.

“Since top management is involved in the actual product on a day-to-day basis, this improves the product, which is a win-win for all,” said Wieselberg. “What has happened, too, the clientele has changed somewhat because of COVID and we’re seeing more locals than before,” he continued. “We’ve added special services, such as opening for dinner with taboon fires, changing our food choices, and offering better prices. We have good support from the local community who just love to sit by the river!”

Trish Davidson, executive assistant manager at Franklyn D Resort (FDR) in Runaway Bay, concurred that the client base has shifted somewhat because of the pandemic and the hotel is placing more focus on staycationers, persons who spend holidays at home.

“I would definitely say that the clientele has changed,” Davidson commented. “Since COVID, a lot of persons are unable to travel overseas, so a lot of them are vacationing at home. We already have resident (Jamaican) rates so our locals would benefit from that and they are taking advantage of that.”

On August 5, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, speaking with a delegation from Nigeria, said Jamaica’s tourism sector was nearing full recovery from the COVID-19 fallout.

“The good news is that Jamaica has now recovered 90 per cent from the COVID-19 pandemic in the tourism sector,” Bartlett noted. “Our recovery in terms of arrivals this year is likely to be well over three million,” he added.

Despite this pronouncement, though, several smaller entities within the sector, especially those relying on cruise ship business, appear not to have recovered to that level and are still focusing heavily on the local market.

Locals are responding positively to packages being offered.

Reggae Hill closed during the height of the pandemic but reopened with the knowledge that going forward, locals had to be a bigger part of its clientele.

“We created very attractive packages of lunch and cocktails so you can eat and drink all day; dining by the river is back!” quipped Ilan Erlich, Reggae Hill’s CEO.

According him: “We have created an environment that is very suitable for any river-goer and one that Jamaicans will absolutely love. You can swim, or just take a dip, or enjoy the swings. Our lunch and cocktail packages are affordable and offer great value for money. Reggae Hill is open and available for any event, large or small, from birthday parties to weddings, or just to rest and relax.”

Meanwhile, Davidson explained that rates have been lowered to attract Jamaicans, and repeat guests earn an additional 10 per cent discount on top of the already discounted rate.