Sat | Sep 23, 2023

Jamaicans pump US$100 million into multipurpose tourism development in MoBay

Published:Sunday | October 23, 2022 | 12:12 AMJanet Silvera - Senior Gleaner Writer

From left: Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett; Constantine Hinds, C&H Property Development Company; Claudette Crooks, MoneyMasters Real Estate Limited; and John Leiba, chairman of Vista Montego Bay Resorts Development break ground of Friday for the US$1
From left: Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett; Constantine Hinds, C&H Property Development Company; Claudette Crooks, MoneyMasters Real Estate Limited; and John Leiba, chairman of Vista Montego Bay Resorts Development break ground of Friday for the US$100 million multipurpose vacation and residential resort in Montego Bay, St James.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Two home-grown Jamaicans have joined forces to invest US$100 million into the construction of a multipurpose vacation and residential resort that will reshape Jamaica’s tourism capital, Montego Bay in St James.

Ground was broken on Friday for The Vista Montego Bay Complex on seven acres of land owned by Claudette Crooks of MoneyMasters Real Estate Limited and Constantine Hinds of C&H Property Development Company, for the construction of 432 suites overlooking Harmony Beach Park.

The project, which will generate 300 new jobs, will be completed in four phases in 48 months. Phase one will be 30 units consisting of one- and two-bedroom suites, a loft unit and two 1,075 square feet penthouse units. Phases two, three, and four will each include residential and commercial spaces.

Not only is The Vista expected to bring ultra-modern, luxurious living to the city of Montego Bay, but it is a continuation of the revitalisation of the Montego Bay Hip Strip, and a precursor to the billions the Tourism Enhancement Fund plans to spend on redeveloping the boulevard.

Crooks and Hinds are two of the first Jamaicans in years to announce such a major investment in a new tourism accommodation product, and Jamaica’s tourism minister Edmund Bartlett has hailed their show of confidence in the recovery of the sector.

Bartlett admits to being accustomed to announcing mega Foreign Direct Investment projects in an industry that is projected to generate US$4.2 billion at the end of this fiscal year for the country’s coffers.

He pointed out that the mix of villas, condos and hotel rooms, along with entertainment and commercial that The Vista offers is the new formula to ensure that there is a contribution from various elements of the tourism value chain.

“Increasingly, we are seeing this mixed model. I saw it first in the south of London, just ahead of the pandemic when they did a transformation and created three storeys of residential, four storeys of hotel rooms, and then shopping, shopping, shopping all underneath,” said the minister.

He said the ROK Hotel in Kingston is the same concept.

“This is the model that is emerging, and it is to ensure that the income stream is not diluted. This is diversified and it enables for a stronger and more sustainable development for the area,” said Bartlett.

The tourism minister described this latest groundbreaking as among the most significant wave of tourism development in the history of Jamaica.

COLLECTIVE EFFORT

With The Vista, the country has now surpassed the original forecast of 8,000 new rooms in five years, and Trelawny’s Harmony Cove, Planet Hollywood and two new resorts on the Elegant Corridor in Montego Bay are not in the count.

Bartlett is, however, not satisfied and made it clear that he is looking for new investors, as Montego Bay becomes the most critical tourism centre in the entire Americas, “in Latin and Central America in the next five years for sure, because of the development that is planned here”.

He warned that the confidence that now exists in Jamaica’s tourism is being deeply undermined by criminal elements, noting that the US$100 million investment will mean nothing if the challenges are not dealt with forthwith.

“It’s not an easy call for a tourism minister to market a destination with these issues. It’s not an easy call for an investment minister to bring investment in with these issues,” he stated.

Noting that the country cannot rely on an individual or government to fix the problems, Bartlett is urging all Jamaicans to do their part in stemming the levels of antisocial behaviour in the country.

In the meantime, The Vista developers say they are constructing a facility aimed at residents and investors looking to reside in a luxurious atmosphere, benefiting from the seclusion of a resort-like, city-living while having easy and hassle-free access to the finest amenities, including restaurants, spa, gym, tennis and badminton courts, putting green, swimming pool and several iconic beaches.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com