Jamaica Breaks Away From the Pack

Island enhancements include new hotels and flights By: Mark Rogers
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort’s recently completed multimillion dollar renovation is one of several updates in Jamaica. // © 2013 Jamaica...
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort’s recently completed multimillion dollar renovation is one of several updates in Jamaica. // © 2013 Jamaica Tourist Board

The Details

Jamaica Tourist Board

Jamaica’s tourism industry is much like Jamaica’s Olympian Usain Bolt — it’s always racing down the track with an eye on bringing back the gold. Unlike many other Caribbean destinations, new attractions, resorts and marketing initiatives appear on Jamaica’s radar on a seasonal rather than annual basis.

The Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), the island’s major marketing event, has seen a date shift this year. The Montego Bay Convention Centre is set to host the 23rd annual JAPEX from April 28-30, though customarily the date for the event is in September or October. JAPEX serves as a forum for leading Jamaican suppliers of the island’s tourism product to meet with travel wholesalers and tour operators from Europe and the Americas. Hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the trade show also includes networking sessions, evening affairs, destination familiarization tours and team-building activities.

Below are some of Jamaica’s recent tourism initiatives; travel agents can expect even more news when JAPEX convenes in the spring.

Jamaica has sealed a first-ever call by Disney Cruise Line into Jamaica’s Historic Falmouth Cruise Port beginning October 2013. The 1,754-passenger Disney Wonder will visit the island’s newest port in Falmouth as part of the ship’s latest seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary, which will launch from Galveston, Texas.

The GeeJam collection has expanded in Port Antonio to include the Trident Hotel, The Trident Castle and Blue Lagoon Restaurant & Villas. Trident Hotel is comprised of 13 villas and The Castle has eight rooms. The two Trident properties had soft openings in December, with the official launches coming in early 2013.The Blue Lagoon property will launch later in the year.

This is a game changer for Port Antonio, one of Jamaica’s best-kept secrets. Port Antonio lacks an international airport and its hotel product has been in need of refurbishment for decades. GeeJam’s commitment will raise Port Antonio’s profile; the destination is a particularly good recommendation for repeat visitors to Jamaica interested in immersing themselves in the island’s culture.

Last  December saw the opening of Seashore Bay Beach Resort by Karisma Hotels & Resorts in Sandy Bay, Negril. The 128-room Seashore Bay Beach Resort will operate as an all-inclusive property for couples, singles and families. Karisma has made a name for itself on Mexico’s Riviera Maya; this is the company’s first resort in Jamaica.

The 266-room, all-inclusive Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort (formerly Breezes Runaway Bay) recently completed a multimillion dollar renovation to its public areas, restaurants, pools, guestrooms and meeting space.

Riu will open a Riu Palace in Montego Bay by December. The newly built hotel will be located next to the existing Riu Montego Bay.

Last December, Delta Air Lines expanded its service flying out of JFK to Montego Bay . The airline has increased service from once-a-week to daily flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Jamaica’s Montego Bay’s Sangster International Airport (MBJ). The daily flight will depart JFK at 8:45 a.m., with a 1:02 p.m. arrival at MBJ. The return flight will depart MBJ at 2:00 p.m., arriving into JFK at 5:58 p.m.

Apple Vacations is running a Monday flight from the Greater Rockford Airport in Chicago to Montego Bay up to April 1, 2013.

JetBlue Airways will operate two daily flights this winter from Fort Lauderdale to Kingston, a continuation of its summer 2012 service.

AirTran will increase Baltimore to Montego Bay service to four flights weekly, operating on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Last Month, Fly Jamaica began service from JFK to Kingston. Fly Jamaica is operating four weekly flights on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. Flights will depart Kingston at 6:15 a.m., arriving JFK at 10:00 am, and depart JFK Terminal One at 11:50 a.m., arriving Kingston at 3:40 p.m. Fly Jamaica will serve the route with its Boeing 757 which seats 198 passengers, including 12 Business Class seats and 186 Economy Class seats. Business Class passengers will be given a baggage allowance of two bags at 70 pounds each, while those in Economy can take two bags at 55 pounds each.

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