Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Montego Bay, Jamaica, is set to welcome new hotels, as well as the refurbishments of several of the key players, as the destination looks to attract new markets and stay relevant for its repeat visitors.

At Japex 2018 last week, members of the tourism board and hotel association discussed the developments to the hotel landscape across the tourist destination. According to Omar Robinson, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Montego Bay has the largest number of hotel rooms across all price points in the country. 

As part of the industry event, a breakfast was held at the year-old Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa, which is managed by Playa Hotels & Resorts. Playa is one of the biggest players in the Jamaica hotel scene these days, especially following the recent announcement that Playa and Hilton will be expanding their alliance in Mexico and the Caribbean. 

"We keep finding new ways to expand," said Kevin Froemming, Playa's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Jamaica, he said, "is a country we're totally committed to. It has everything we need."

Under the partnership with Hilton, Playa will maintain the Hilton Rose Hall as a Hilton hotel, which is set to undergo extensive renovations. Playa also has plans to open a Panama Jack resort by 2020. As to whether it will be a newbuild or a converted property, Froemming said Playa have plenty of options, as it has additional sites on which to build but is also actively looking for additional property acquisitions.

Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean are also planning renovations, according Robinson. Half Moon is currently undergoing a $75 million renovation, as well.

Excellence Oyster Bay opened its doors on June 1, the first resort for Excellence Hotels & Resorts in Jamaica but certainly not the last. The company is planning 10 to 12 properties in Mexico and the Caribbean in the next three to five years. "There are plans for further expansion around Falmouth," said David Torres, corporate director of sales for Excellence Hotels & Resorts. "Excellence owns the land around the port." The new all-inclusive, adults-only Excellence Oyster Bay has 315 suites ranging from 800 to 1,400 square feet. There are also eight restaurants and 10 bars throughout the resort, as well as a fitness center and the Excellence Club, which is a higher level of stay with suites and private check-in. 

Crissa Hotels will be launching the S Hotel Jamaica in Montego Bay later this fall. Overlooking Doctor's Cave beach, the trendy S Hotel is bringing a touch of South Beach to Jamaica, said Christopher Issa, the owner of the property.

The resort experience kicks off with a 25-foot interior lobby walled with coral stone. Local artists have been commissioned to contribute original pieces, like a hand-painted mural and a photomontage, which will be displayed across the hotel's dining venues. Inside each guest room will be record players, each with a vinyl copy of the Bob Marley and the Wailers album Legend. The food and beverage offerings will serve artisanal Jamaican and international cuisine with a custom selection of wines. An Irie Baths and Spa will have subterranean plunge pools with four treatment rooms and a line of Espa products. The piece de resistance will be the Sky Deck Bar and Lounge, which will be exclusive to Sky Club Suite guests. The rooftop hideaway will have a glass-enclosed pool surrounded by cabanas and will serve cocktails and tapas. 

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