Report from JAPEX, Part 2: Hotel News

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The Half Moon Jamaica Resort & Spa in Montego Bay. (Photo credit: Ed Wetschler)
The Half Moon Jamaica Resort & Spa in Montego Bay. (Photo credit: Ed Wetschler)

On May 3, I quoted an Island Routes official who told me that the new highway connecting Montego Bay to Kingston would soon make it possible to expand the company’s excursions to the capital. Three days later, Island Routes publicly announced a new Bob Marley and Kingston Highlights tour. We’re on a roll, so let’s look at some Jamaican hotel news:

Kingston Is Hot
In 2017, the owners/operators of The Courtleigh Hotel & Suites and The Jamaica Pegasus will open a hotel, convention, and recreational complex that will give the old properties and the former Wyndham a complete makeover that will result in 728 (eventually, 1,000) rooms in three hotels. A major target market: millenials. Meanwhile, the Liguanea Club, a private sports club, will take advantage of Kingston’s new popularity by opening its 38 guest rooms to visitors.

Karisma Grows in Negril
 director of sales David Black announced that 136-room Azul Sensatori is adding 52 rooms in December or January, and the company is also building the 98-suite Azul Beach Seven Mile next door to it. Agents will be able to book Azul Beach (opening in May 2017) in January. When JAPEX ended, I visited Negril and the Seven Mile construction site. Guests at both of Azul’s resorts will have exchange privileges, and when you see the layout, it really makes sense. All a la carte dining, of course; that’s the Gourmet Inclusive way. “Karisma is new in Jamaica, but we’re coming in hot,” said general manager Rolando Miravete told me. “In the next 5 years we will build 11 hotels.”

Sandals Negril Debuts Renovated Rooms
Indulging my compulsion to sleep around, I stayed in both a Grand Luxury Club Level Ocean View room and a Caribbean Honeymoon Beachfront 2-Story One BR Butler Loft Suite with an outdoor tranquility tub, and they are every bit as lovely as advertised. Look for details in the Caribbean honeymoons story in the June issue.

A rendering of the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston. 
A rendering of the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston.

Spanish Court Will Boost Montego Bay
The owners of Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston have purchased the former Breezes property, where it will open an la carte hotel(!) in the summer of 2017—contemporary design, rooftop pool and all—right in town. This is a new kind of product here, with a South Beach ambiance that could do wonders for MoBay.

Half Moon Forges Forward
Having broken away from Rockresorts—general manager Sandro Fabris told me that this made sense for Rockresorts, too, whose strength is its mountain resorts—this constantly refreshed Jamaican classic is planning yet more renovations. However, I stayed in one of the traditionally furnished beachfront suites, borrowed a bike, test-drove the lap pool, explored the expansive kids’ camp, and ate as much as I could, and I could not have been happier.

Blue Diamond’s Adds Luxury Junior Suite to the Royalton Blue Waters
At the construction site for Royalton Blue Waters, a 226-room new build next door to Royalton White Sands, Todd Kirlik, corporate director for global sales & account development at Blue Diamond Resorts, unveiled a model Luxury Junior Suite with earth tones, a soaking tub, balcony, and marble bathroom. The resort will open in late 2016, and guests will be able to use White Sands’ water park and restaurants. Although, I found this guestroom so tasteful and restful that I’m not sure I’d ever leave it. Darling, dial up room service. For more information, visit