TORONTO — The news reports coming in from Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands are heartbreaking, and the images even more so.
NEGRIL — Kicking off the summer season in style, Karisma Hotels and Resorts has opened the doors to its newest island hotel, Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica by Karisma.
Located on Seven Mile Beach in Negril, the contemporary ocean-view suite resort was officially feted by friends, colleagues and several Jamaican VIPS including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and John Lynch of the Jamaica Tourism Board.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts Chairman & CEO Rafael Feliz spoke about his commitment to Jamaica, the first country after Mexico chosen for Karisma Resorts’ expansion. “Jamaica has shown its devotion to tourism and welcomes foreign investment,” said Feliz, adding that Karisma Hotels & Resorts properties are now found in nine countries including the D.R., Colombia, Montenegro and Croatia.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett proudly spoke about the 4.5% increase in arrivals to the island so far in 2017 as well as the increase in earnings, a 6.7% jump over last year. Despite the drop in Canadian visitors in 2016, Bartlett said 2017 has been positive, with a 4.5% increase in arrivals from Canada to Jamaica.
Prime Minister Holness stated that ongoing investment by his government in infrastructure will support continued growth of Jamaica’s tourism industry. “For the first time ever, the Caribbean has welcomed 29 million arrivals,” said Holness, “and with our continued growth, we have been welcoming 3.5 million visitors to Jamaica in the past year, and hope to increase the number, setting a target of five million visitors by 2021.”
Holness added that Jamaica was chosen as the number one destination on TripAdvisor as well as #12 in the world and with the World Tourism Council predicting growth in global tourism, Jamaica is poised to lead the Caribbean.
Azul Beach Resort Sensatori has 98 suites, featuring swim-up suites or ocean-view balconies with oversized seating, and are targeted for the North American market. Modern rooms are decorated in cool shades of gray and cream, with multiple seating areas and accents of turquoise and hot pink. The bathroom/dressing room features two spacious closets with multiple storage options, and metallic and white ceramic tiles.
Guests have access to personal concierge and butler service, nine Gourmet-Inclusive restaurants, Vassa Spa (which features the Samadhi room), an expansive bride prep room for hair, makeup and spa treatments and extensive children’s programming including Azulitos Playhouse, My Gym Children’s Fitness Program and Azulitos Spa.
Resort dining options include global flavours at Mahogany, Thai cuisine at Hua Hin and seafood at the Garfield Beach Bar, named for the resort’s original owner, Dr. Garfield Munroe. The resort also features exclusive offers with Canadian Beef and Jackson Family Wines. Stylish places to drink include swim-up bars, Indigo Denim Bar and Amber Oceanfront Bar, which feature bands, DJs and dance performances in the evening.
Additional amenities at the Azul Beach Resort Sensatori include pillow, room scent and toiletry options for premium guests, as well as complimentary watersports, yoga on the beach, cooking classes, rum tastings and Caribbean cooking classes.
Guests have access to the Azul Sensatori pools as well as dining options such as Ackee for Jamaican cuisine, Di Romagna for Italian cuisine, Palms for breakfast, lunch or dinner and Nesta Rasta Lounge for music and local rums. Both resorts now offer 285 suites.
The opening of Azul Beach Resort Sensatori follows the opening of Azul Sensatori Resort in 2014 and continues Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ ongoing investment in Jamaica. The next major project is Sugar Cane Jamaica, a $1 billion investment to create a hotel, entertainment and retail complex on over 200 acres in the island’s St. Ann region. Slated to start construction later in 2017, Sugar Cane Jamaica will feature Nickelodeon and Margaritaville resorts and 2.5 kilometres of beachfront.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts is focused on expansion plans beyond Jamaica too, with a Nickelodeon Resort and a Margaritaville Resort currently underway for both Punta Cana and Riviera Maya.