Jamaica: 3 Reasons to Plan a Trip Right Now

Jamaica, the Caribbean’s third largest island, epitomizes the region’s allure with its easy airlift, diverse resort areas, all-inclusive options, and more than 100 rivers tumbling down from green-velvet mountains to a sea edged in dreamy golden sand. Add everything from fine dining fit for royalty to soulful cuisine, free-flowing rum, reggae, and friendly fun-loving people, and you’ve got a destination to thrill any group, anytime. So why now? Beyond the basics, here are three timely reasons to take your group—or at least yourself—to Jamaica this year or next.

  1. The January Elite Meetings Alliance. Cue the trumpets. The Elite Meeting Alliance will convene at Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, January 25–27, 2015. It’s a great chance to do business and play in a Caribbean paradise, but it’s also a great chance to see how Hyatt Hotels transformed The Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, one of the Caribbean’s poshest properties, into one of Hyatt’s first all-inclusive resorts. Opening in November with 387 guest rooms and suites, the new Hyatt Ziva will specialize in fun for families of all ages. But it will also specialize in business and events in more than 20,000 square feet of conference space indoors—and more than 20,000 square feet outside.southwest
  1.  Even easier access. Reaching Jamaica just got a whole lot easier thanks to nonstop service from America’s largest carrier, Southwest Airlines. On July 1, the formerly domestic-only airline crossed its first international border when it flew from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay. Three Southwest flights touch down daily.

That inaugural flight signaled the start of nonstop service from three of Southwest’s U.S. hubs. The airline will also operate daily service to Jamaica out of Orlando and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airports. By November, Southwest will be operating 36 flights to Jamaica a week.

PS: History shows that anytime Southwest adds flights, there’s downward price pressure on all airlines flying the same route. So Southwest’s entry into Caribbean airspace bodes well for even more competitive fares across the board.moonpalace-(1)

  1. New options for meetings and incentives. Along with the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, Jamaica boasts two other newbies to consider for meetings—plus several new and upcoming additions ideal for small business retreats and incentives.
  • Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall will debut in November along with its sister resort, Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. The two all-inclusive beachfront resorts share property previously occupied by The Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall. But while the Hyatt Ziva will cater to groups and families, the 234-room Hyatt Zilara will cater to adults only.

Jewel

  • Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive, adults-only resort in Runaway Bay, recently received a US$5 million makeover. It now features a new spa, 225 upgraded accommodations, and 3,000 square feet of meeting space. The former Hedonism III is now the third property in the Jewel portfolio, the others being family-friendly Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort (with a new oceanfront water park debuting in December) and the adults-only Jewel Dunn’s River Beach Resort & Spa.
  • On September 1, the 17-acre Sunset Jamaica Grande closed down on the longest stretch of private beach in Ocho Rios to make way for the all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. The first property from Palace Resorts outside its home base of Mexico expects to reopen early next year. The $50 million rebranding will result in 730 ultramodern accommodations, five restaurants, an upscale gourmet food corridor, a new wellness sanctuary, and 30,000 square feet of redesigned conference rooms, ballrooms, exhibition areas, and event terrace.
  • Negril’s new Azul Sensatori Jamaica opened this April on Seven Mile Beach as the first resort outside Mexico from Karisma Hotels. The company transformed the former Beaches Sandy Bay into 136 sea-view accommodations, including an adults-only section with its own swim-up bar and lounge. The new resort brings Karisma’s signature Gourmet Inclusive Experience to Jamaica in a choice of eight casually elegant bars and restaurants.
  • All new, the 238-room Hotel Riu Palace Jamaica opened for business in the winter of 2013–14 on Mahoe Bay near Montego Bay, making it the fifth Riu property in Jamaica and the first adults-only Riu resort on the island. “Palace” in the name signifies Riu Hotels & Resorts’s ultimate in all-inclusive service, food, and lodging.
  • Sandals RoyalSandals Royal Caribbean Spa Resort & Private Island is building five over-water suites just off its private islet—which is just off the beach in Mahoe Bay. Available next year, the suites will come with 1,600 square feet of exceptional amenities, including private butler service. The all-inclusive resort is also transforming 14 existing rooms into superdeluxe Grand Luxury Butler Suites, with a due date of November 14.

JTB Logo (1)The Jamaica Tourist Board groups and convention team offers far more than just island expertise. They provide a host of services to find the right fit for groups in every facet of your event. For more information, go to www.visitjamaica.com, or contact Marcia Bullock, regional director of groups and conventions for the Jamaica Tourist Board, at groups@visitjamaica-usa.com.

Annette Burden

Annette Burden

Annette Burden has written and edited for Elite Meetings International since 2007. In addition to writing on travel for other publications, she founded and edited Meeting Traveler, Resorts & Great Hotels, and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazines.

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