Thursday, July 18, 2013

Planning a Trip or Vacation to Jamaica?

Aah, the world knows about us, beaches, sand, sun etc. We are well-known for our Cruise ships that come here, our world-famous coffee from the Blue Mountains and our rum, the T-Shirts, the Music. The potential for weddings that are breath-taking and an equally wonderful honeymoon and the people, that is a lot of the positive stuff for which we are known. I deliberately left out the athletics, due mainly to the negative publicity we have received recently and no, Marijuana (weed) is not positive if you ask me. Anyway, since Jamaica is so renowned worldwide, I figure many people plan trips to travel to Jamaica. The North Coast is by far the most beautiful portion of the island in my opinion. I love especially the portion that stretches from Portland in the north-east to roughly about Discovery Bay in St. Ann., Ocho Rios being my most favourite part of the country.

I'm pretty much an average Jamaican person, I have stayed in a little more than my fair share of hotels on the island and after every single stay I wonder if I am the only Jamaican that has had less than fantastic stays there. I hear tourists go on and on about how wonderful Jamaica and Jamaicans are but I can't help but concluding that especially in the hotels, staff are wonderful to you if you are not black and if you are black you need to meet two criteria to be treated at least like you are spending money, these are: you have to have an accent from a North American or European country (or anywhere the staff will feel as if you are a big spender) and the other is you will have to be a big spender.

Jamaica (in my estimation at least) is no longer the destination of choice for the world's wealthy, all-inclusive hotels don't help. We are like the crack-whore of the tourism world. We don't partial any visitor neither do we direct our advances to any specific group, we target any and all foreigner with a dollar to spend. That waters down your product offering and though these offerings were once great and are in fact still great, the beauty and appeal is lost on those who don't care about it, they only care for the weed and the liquor and the sex. That is a sad state of affairs that unfortunately we have found ourselves in and that does not add to the value of our tourism product.

I have had my fair share of profiling visiting these hotels, I am not scared to relate on very terrible experience I had at the Iberostar Hotel in Rose Hall, St. James. I stayed there on two occasions and both occasions were terribly horrible! The first, my daughter was a few months old, my wife and I after checking in requested a crib for her at about 4:00pm, we were assured that we were getting it in a couple of minutes - 20 minutes to be exact. Suffice it to say, their 20 minutes turned out run from that time until 11:30pm or thereabouts, all this not before it took nearly 3 hours for us to get our room. When we go to the room, it wreaked of tobacco, and was hardly prepared. By this time I was just so tired of waiting for the room that I figured I would just go to sleep. In the middle of the night there was a knock on the, there was a young man holding the crib I had requested six hours prior, I felt like asking if it took them so long to make the crib but upon inspecting it I found that it was a dirty old crib that probably was borrowed from a nearby home in the adjoining community. In an effort not to be rude or disrespectful, I took it and went to bed, my daughter was already asleep on the bed so the need for the crib was no longer there. The next morning I went on the balcony to just sit and what I saw was the most disturbing site, on the edge of the balcony there was dried, what was obviously vomit. I went straight to the front-desk to register my disgust, I was sent to who was apparently the manager of something or the other. I explained the situation to "Miss" Manager and was told to write an email and send it to some person or the other, that I did and since 2010, I am awaiting a response.

Point: don't waste your money at Iberostar!

I guess they would have treated us with a bit more respect had I been either:
1. White
2. Black but obviously a big spender or
3 Black with a non-caribbean accent.

Stay tuned, I have the story of my subsequent stay at the same hotel as part of a conference that was held there.

One question I have before I go, isn't a dollar in the hands of a black Jamaican worth the same as that in the hands of a white foreigner?