WHITEHOUSE, Jamaica -- The opening next month of Sandals newest resort presents us with a big challenge, said Brian Roper, director of operations.

The south coast of Jamaica is a relatively unknown tourism area, and its up to us to educate agents as to where it is and what its appeal is beyond Sandals for their clients, he said. People dont like to be pioneers. Many are skeptical about being the first in a location.

From Sangster Airport in Montego Bay, its an hour-and-a-half drive to Whitehouse (population 5,000) in the Bluefield Bay area in the parish of Westmoreland.

Drive time is about the same from Negril, along a coastal route that passes cornfields, farms, rural scenes and fishing villages in what is called the breadbasket of Jamaica, according to Roper.

This area produces more than 60% of the produce, farm products and fresh fish for all of Jamaica -- items that appear as menu selections at our resort.

In fact, Whitehouse is Jamaicas largest fishing village.

Whitehouse also has a lot of local labor, a small hotel school and people who are highly trainable, Roper said. We recruited many of our staff at Sandals Whitehouse from the local labor pool.

And, for visitors, the area provides attractions and activities not found elsewhere in Jamaica.

We want our guests to explore beyond our resort gates, Roper said. Theres a wealth of culture and heritage and natural attractions here.

The Black River near Whitehouse is part of the largest wetlands in Jamaica, totaling more than 18,000 acres. TW Photo by Gay Nagle MyersFor example, crocodiles are easily spotted during an hour-long Black River Safari tour that wends its way on a pontoon boat through the wetlands and mangroves near Whitehouse.

Visitors who already have climbed Dunns River Falls near Ocho Rios will find a whole new experience at Y.S. Falls, about an hours drive from Sandals Whitehouse, Roper said. 

The falls features a series of 10 cascades, reached by a wooden stairway.  At the top, visitors can play Tarzan [and Jane] and swing from ropes into crystal pools below.

These tours can be arranged through the tour desk at the resort.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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