Jamaica Gleaner / It was a night of glamour, where fine food and exciting entertainment accompanied accolades bestowed on those recognised for excellence in tourism, at the RJRGLEANER Hospitality Jamaica Awards, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, on Saturday night.
With more than 120,000 votes polled, selecting all but two of the 19 prestigious awards up for grabs, it was an anxious wait to see who would come out on top in their categories. The formalities got under way with entertainment from the Afro-Caribbean movement Children of the Drums; contortionist Akino; and local R&B group Khalil, with a Motown show.
Five new categories were introduced for this year’s awards, and like it has been in the past, Royalton White Sands proved a force to be reckoned with, copping Jamaica’s Best Family Resort and the Best All-Inclusive Hotel with over 300 rooms awards.
Other winners were Margaritaville for Jamaica’s Best Nightlife Experience. Jamaica’s Best in Transportation went to Knutsford Express. Hedonism II won Jamaica’s Best In Entertainment. Caribbean Producers Jamaica was named Jamaica’s Best Purveyor. Jamaica’s Most Authentic Attraction was won by Falmouth Food Tour. Sandals Royal Plantation copped Jamaica’s Best Boutique Hotel. Sandals Royal Caribbean and Private Island won Best All-Inclusive under 300 Rooms.
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AWARD
The quaint Sandy Haven, Negril, won Best European Plan Hotel (under 100 rooms), and The Courtleigh Hotel and Suites copped Best European Plan Hotel (over 100 rooms). Jamaica’s Best Business Hotel went to Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa. Jamaica’s most Eco/Sustainable Resort was Couples Swept Away. The Boardwalk Village won for being Jamaica’s Best Small Hotel/Bed and Breakfast. Go Jamaica Travel won Best Destination Management Company. Treasure Beach won Best Resort Town Experience, and Round Hill Hotel and Villas was Best in Cuisine.
In previous years, one person walked away with the Hospitality Personality of the Year Award, but it was a double take for Chukka Caribbean Adventures as CEO John Byles and director of group revenue and new developments Marc Melville were selected as the Hospitality Personalities of the Year for 2017.
The toast of the evening was hotel mogul Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts International, who was honoured with the inaugural
RJRGLEANER Communications Group’s Pioneer Award.
Stewart, who was presented with the prestigious award by Oliver Clarke, deputy chairman of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, lauded the organisers, while dedicating the award to his family and his more than 14,000 members of staff across the seven locations in the region.
“I owe everything to the people that I work with. Tonight is a night for the people that make up Sandals. It’s a night for my family. I am so proud of these people – from the gardeners, chambermaids, the butlers, bartenders. It has been a good 36 years,” said Stewart.