Valuable Villas

An island organization assists agents looking for properties

By: Eleanor M. Wilson

JAMAICA Ah, the sweet Caribbean villa life! Since the upswing in island weddings, family reunions and “girls’ night out” getaways, villa demand spells profits for savvy agents.

Jamaica was the first Caribbean destination to offer the concept back in the ’50s, simplifying the booking process through the Jamaica Association of Villas and Apartments (JAVA). Now, half a century later, JAVA represents over 200 properties across the island, and all must continually meet the association’s high standards.

“Value and quality are keywords in our operation,” said Carmen McKnight, JAVA executive director. “We work closely with agents to properly match villas and clients.” The term villa covers a wide range of accommodations from the stand-alone home to a condo located in a complex, so agents must carefully profile their clients and determine their expectations.

Some families require a child-safe environment, while friends traveling together generally prefer equally sized and similarly appointed bedrooms. Villas on hotel premises are good choices for novice renters.

Jamaica boasts a variety of attractions, and agents need to find the right location where clients can enjoy their favorite activities.

To cultivate happy clients, and earn extra commission in the process, it’s always a good idea to make advance reservations for car rentals, golf tee times and sightseeing tours.

It’s also important to choose the right location for your clients.

Port Antonio, with its waterfalls, draws nature lovers who like to hike and raft. Casual beach and watersports fans will enjoy Negril. For shopping and nightlife, suggest Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.

Jamaica’s many “villa neighborhoods” clusters of rental villa outfits offer opportunities to book corporate or leisure groups in adjoining abodes. Some of the most popular areas are Runaway Bay, Ironshore in Montego Bay, Mammee Bay near Dunn’s River Falls and Port Antonio’s exclusive Blue Lagoon.

In all locations, JAVA provides a staff, security, well-maintained properties and pays 10 percent commission.

Not included are food, drinks, tips and taxes. Local phone calls are generally free. A security deposit is required at certain villas.

See JAVA’s Web site for photos, descriptions and rates.


Where to Stay

Crystal Cove Vacation in Venice in a six-villa cluster lining Port Antonio’s famous Blue Lagoon. JAVA’s two-story turreted home features three bedrooms, each with private bath. The living, dining and family rooms open to the sea. A tree-shaded terrace and deck over the water invite dining, cocktail sipping and snorkeling. Kayaks provide trips to a deserted beach.
Cost: $3,500 winter, $2,800 summer.

Sundance In this villa overlooking Discovery Bay, clients can observe the beach below from the front porch and wraparound pool deck with barbecue. Three bedrooms and baths adjoin the wide recreation room, fitted with ping-pong and pool tables, satellite TV, VCR and stereo. This room also has two daybeds in case the kids fall asleep in front of the video games.
Cost: $2,100 winter, $1,700 summer.

Sonrise Beach Retreat Six one-bedroom cottages nestle among tall trees at the edge of Robin’s Bay. Ideal for eco-tourists and outdoorsmen, clients can fish, snorkel, hike, ride horses, bird-watch or take nature tours. Vegetarian meals and yoga are available. Cost: $1,094 winter, $983 summer.