|For more information on how to recieve Coldwell Banker Jamaica Realty's KUYA magazine, please click here: to find out more.
The Cooler Side of Jamaica
- Written By Mirah Lim
When most people think of owning a vacation home in Jamaica they dream of a house by the sea, however a select few have chosen to look to higher ground for their weekend home, 4000 feet above the Kingston Harbour, in the heart of the Blue Mountains. Nestled on a series of ridges, just five minutes drive from the Newcastle Camp, are a collection of homes, surrounded by quaint English style gardens brimming with brightly coloured impatiens, agapanthus lilies and gigantic blue hydrangeas, in a private community known as Greenwich.
Greenwich's cool climate, peaceful setting and beautiful scenery has served as an escape since the 1840s when Newcastle Camp was founded as a mountain station for British soldiers, who were seeking refuge from the yellow fever outbreak. Today, this tucked away cluster of cottages provides a break from the hustle and bustle of Kingston for the few Jamaican families who own homes there.
'Fiddlewood', Mark and Diane McConnell's mountain home is perched on a plateau which overlooks the community of Greenwich and enjoys a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as an expansive view of the city. Built just under 10 years ago from an imported Appalachian log cabin kit, 'Fiddlewood' was the first home of its kind in the area. For the McConnell's a log home was a natural choice for their retreat in the hills. 'Log cabins are the type of homes that you find in colder climates and so we wanted to duplicate that in Greenwich where the temperatures are cool,' said Mark McConnell with his wife adding, 'we used to stay in log cabins when we went on skiing holidays and we always loved the feeling of them.'
To create their dream home, Mark and Diane worked with architect Jeremy Millingen and contractor Bruce English, as well as with a team from an Appalachian log home company. In addition to using the imported wood structure for the exterior, they used local wood for the interior from their farm in St. Catherine. Fiddlewood was one of the primary woods used throughout the house and as such the house was named after it. One of the most unique interior features are two large fiddlewood beams in the living room which act as supporting columns. Throughout the house the use of wood is continued with Breadnut floors, teak decking on the verandah, the shingle roof and on smaller, less noticeable features, such as railings, light fixtures and even towel racks.
Decorating this six bedroom house was a labour of love for Diane, as she wanted to create a comfortable home with a wintery feel, reminiscent of the log cabins her family had stayed in while on ski vacations. 'I like cozy, so I tried to make this house as cozy as possible,' Diane said. In the year that it took to build 'Fiddlewood,' Diane collected all the furnishings and accessories for her new home. 'I owned Island Art & Framing at the time and so we made a lot of the furniture and we also brought in pieces from Indonesia and Bali,' she added. Diane also gathered Jamaican antiques and family heirlooms of crystal, silver and china, as well as paintings by renowned Jamaican artists such as Seya Parboosingh, Christopher Gonzales, Marisa Willoughby-Holland, Eric Smith and PJ Stewart.
As well as weekend visits, the McConnell's spend every Christmas at 'Fiddlewood,' as it makes the perfect holiday setting with its warm fireplace and 12-seater dining table where many family meals are enjoyed together. 'The house is a joy to our family,' said Mark. Diane added, 'It is the only place in Jamaica that I can completely relax; I love the view, the flowers, the mist and it's so peaceful that when you go up there you just drop all your worries.'
Montego Bay Comes of Age - Written By Oliver Hill
Montego Bay has undergone a transformation in recent years with a number of developments that will help position Jamaica's second-largest city as one of the most dynamic and attractive in the Caribbean, not just as a tourism hub, but as a centre of business, commerce and technology.
At the heart of Montego Bay's allure is its infrastructure, with privately-managed state-ofthe- art Sangster International Airport receiving about 70% of international arrivals into the island with 1.55 million passengers projected for 2010. With peak utilization concentrated on weekends, Sangster is well positioned to meet an increase in demand by business travelers, says operator MBJ Airports chief executive Fernando Bosque, who noted it could easily double or triple capacity were demand more evenly spread throughout the week. Bosque noted that airlift from Montego Bay to major hubs in the US and Europe is a crucial factor positioning the city for growth as a business centre, while the generous stock of hotel rooms in the airport's immediate vicinity makes Montego Bay practical as a destination for meetings and events.
The completion of the North Coast Highway with double carriageways stretching from the eastern end of Rose Hall to the airport roundabout, along with the extension of the double lane road heading west out of town through Bogue to Reading is helping alleviate congestion into and out of the city, making bedroom communities as far out as Duncans, Trelawny and Hopewell, Hanover more attractive and viable. Excess capacity at water treatment facilities in Bogue and Rose Hall will allow for significant population growth for years to come, and while the supply and cost of energy is still a concern plaguing Jamaica as a whole with Montego Bay's Jamaica Public Service power plant in Bogue running at full capacity, consumers like The Palmyra Resort & Spa have opted to establish efficient on-site power plants which can sell excess capacity to the grid in a model likely to be adopted by other major consumers.
Rose Hall Developments chairman Michele Rollins has been investing in the city alongside her late husband John Rollins for nearly half a century, and is more bullish than ever on its prospects. She points to the increase in middleincome housing in the immediate vicinity, new shopping centres at Rose Hall, Palmyra and Whitter Village, five top-notch golf courses in the area, a vibrant yacht club, Hospiten's recent acquisition of Mobay Hope Medical Centre and planned hospital, and the construction of a convention centre as further rounding out the city's attractiveness. 'People are finding they don't want to spend just a few weeks here, but instead spend the whole winter,' she said. Comercial Develo pment.
Montego Bay is one of Jamaica's most well planned urban centres thanks in large part to legacy land owners like the Kerr-Jarrett family, which has held vast estates in the parishes of Trelawny and St. James since its first members arrived in 1655. Today the family's holdings include the 2,500-acre Barnett Estate stretching from Westgate Hills across Catherine Hall to Bogue. The family began planning for the city's expansion in earnest when it developed the Montego Bay South Master plan in the early 1990s. Mark Kerr-Jarrett recounted how an interest in seeing the city develop in a planned and efficient way is in the family's blood. 'One thing my grandfather said is we are the stewards of the land for the nation and therefore we must use discernment and wisdom in its development.' Since receiving cabinet approval for incorporation of the master plan into the St. James Development Order in 2000, Kerr-Jarrett has overseen the construction of Fairview Shopping Centre, Fairfield Commercial and Industrial Park and partnered with Gore Developments to build an affordable housing scheme, Bogue Village, before starting construction on Fairview Phase II in conjunction with Frederick Moe and Edward Azan of Cascade Group in 2009, investing some US$20 million. The new shopping centre boasts tenants like Loshusan Supermarket, Watts New, Wendy's, LIME, First Global Bank and Rituals.
On the opposite end of town in Ironshore, Angela and Joe Whitter recently completed construction of Whitter Village, Phase I, a 210,000 square-foot shopping centre with 92 shops at a cost of some US$35 million. Whitter Village has already rented out 65% of the space, with Payless Shoes, Treasure Hunt Gaming, Avalon Pharmacy, and a Progressive Grocers supermarket among the anchor tenants. Phase II and III will see the establishment of an office park and apartments, said Whitter.
Returning Falmouth to its Glory-Written By Oliver Hill
Falmouth, Trelawny was founded by the Barrett family in 1790 at the height of Jamaica's sugar boom, as the main export point for the sugar plantations of Trelawny and as a playground for the plantocracy that governed the land. After a brief period of glory when estate owners built homes in the architectural style typical of the Georgian era, emancipation came to Jamaica's enslaved laborers in 1834, spelling doom for the island's sugar industry and along with it sealing the demise of the architectural gem that was this seaside town. Over the next 250 years the once-boastful facades crumbled, ceilings disintegrated, and the population of Falmouth dwindled as the town's pier fell into the sea. In the early 1990s, Montego Bay visionaries Sheila and Tony Hart became the driving force behind the first major restoration project at the Baptist Manse in downtown Falmouth. Still owned by the Baptist Church and leased to the William Knibb Trust, financing was donated by the Harts to put a roof on the dilapidated building, before marine archeologist Jim Parrent took over the restoration as part of Jamaica Heritage Trail, an initiative brought by the Tourism Action Plan. Parrent was simultaneously restoring several other smaller Georgian-era buildings in Falmouth before taking over the Baptist Manse project and ultimately founding in 2001 a non-profit called the Falmouth Heritage Renewal, with philanthropist Chris Ohrstrom. To date the Falmouth Heritage Renewal has trained dozens of local youth, restored some 34 buildings and continues to be one of the most important employers in town with an 18 member fulltime staff.
Having created an atmosphere of renewal after years of tirelessly touting the cause at architectural conferences, it was no surprise to Parrent when Royal Caribbean, one of the world's top cruise shipping lines and a longtime visitor to Jamaican ports in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, announced plans to build an exclusive pier in Falmouth to accommodate a new class of ships carrying nearly 6,000 passengers. The group's first ship of this size, part of its 'Genesis Project', will be the largest ever built and is scheduled to make its first stop in Falmouth in April 2011 following the inaugural visit by Navigator of the Seas, scheduled for January 7. While Parrent is wary of the side effects that any intensive development project focused on this small community might have, he is optimistic that the emphasis put on this historic town will help preserve more buildings. Royal Caribbean has given the non-profit a US $25,000 grant to develop proposals for the ongoing restoration effort, he noted.
Tour Expansion Beyond an endorsement of the work carried out thus far to restore the architectural treasures of Falmouth, the arrival of Royal Caribbean ships spells an imminent boom for tour operators and attractions in the vicinity. The opportunity has not been lost on Jamaica's leading tour operator, Chukka Caribbean, which has established 19 tours out of Falmouth, with nine to be based at nearby Good Hope Plantation where the company has signed a 12-year lease. Chukka's co-managing director John Byles acknowledges that while the Falmouth port development will result in a repositioning of staff and equipment as it establishes the most tours at any single location on the island at Good Hope, it will result in a 20% increase in employees for the company's Jamaica operation overall. 'The port of Falmouth, which we believe Good Hope is an integral part of, will differentiate Jamaica in the Caribbean.
There is no other port in the region that offers the authentic history and the experience that Falmouth has the potential of offering', said Byles, noting that Falmouth had running water before New York City and the first Masonic lodge in the hemisphere, facts which are testament to the colony's importance in the world economy of the day, which few visitors to Jamaica are aware of. 'We've always been aware of this treasure Good Hope, and we're really excited about bringing it to the market.' Good Hope owner Blaise Hart sees a parallel between the role the surrounding plantations played in bygone years for the Georgian town, and the role these same estates will play as ships call on the port once more.
'It was properties like Good Hope that led to the creation of Falmouth, and the rebirth of the port will build back the town, as well as properties like this one,' Hart said. Every Chukka tour based at Good Hope will incorporate a piece of the farm's history and complement the ongoing citrus and coconut farming operations, as well as its villa rental business. Activities to be based at the 2,000-acre estate include Chukka's signature zip lines, ATV, horse and buggy and jeep tours, and culinary offerings. If history is to be revived with the new port at Falmouth, surely the heritage trail must also lead to Greenwood. The Greenwood Great House stands on a hill overlooking the coastline seven miles to the west. The former home of the Barrett family, Greenwood offers a historical tour that sees only a trickle of visitors. Despite his sober view of Jamaica's past and present, owner and manager Bob Betton is hopeful that his tour operation will benefit from the rebirth of Falmouth despite having seen no noticeable increase in business since new all-inclusive resorts were built nearby in recent years. 'Jamaicans are eternal optimists', he said, 'When we first started no one believed the Barretts had anything to do with Jamaica. Since then people have come to understand that the Barretts actually founded Falmouth.'
Purchasing a Luxury Villa in Jamaica - Written By Kaili McDonnough Scott
Maybe its your first trip to the island and
you are smitten, or maybe you have
been bitten by the bug after many
trips to Jamaica over the years and are now
thinking of purchasing a luxury villa here. Let's
face it, Jamaica is an island like no other and a
true jewel in the Caribbean, so there is no reason
why you shouldn't own a piece of prime
real estate here. Whether it is Round Hill, Tryall
or any other exclusive location, purchasing a
luxury villa can be one of the most rewarding
experiences of a lifetime, but it's a decision that
should not be made lightly. To help with the
decision making process, K'YA asked three of
Coldwell Banker's top agents for their advice on
buying in Jamaica.
Why should a client choose Jamaica?
>> Andrew Issa Jamaica is a wonderful country
and here you get the real Caribbean experience;
from the accent, to the music, to the
cuisine, the beaches and mountainous landscapes,
we have a lot to offer here that many
other islands don't.
>>Nicola Delapehna Jamaica has great weather,
easy access with two international airports
and culturally the island has a lot of interesting
things to offer. Additionally, there is so much diversity
in the terrain from the homes in the hills,
to the beaches, the rivers; you won't find this in
Barbados or Antigua. What's more is that Jamaica
offers great value for money when you are looking
to buy a luxury home compared to other islands
and property taxes are relatively low.
>>Sandy Tatham I don't think that there is any
other island in the Caribbean that offers the variety
of landscape, the cross section of natural
beauty and has as rich a culture and as interesting
people as we have in Jamaica.
What are some of the best locations to own a
>>Andrew Issa Jamaica is the third largest island
in the Caribbean which means there are
many great vacation spots to choose from here.
In Montego Bay there is easy access to the airport
and this city offers the 'creme de la creme'
in terms of service and amenities. Ocho Rios is
a town packed with many fun-filled attractions
and activities like Dunn's River Falls and Mystic
Mountain; out East there is Port Antonio where
you are surrounded by the tropical rainforest and
the back drop of the Blue Mountains and there is
a very special place called Treasure Beach where
I like to say that it is so peaceful that you can actually
enjoy listening to the quiet.
>>Nicola Delapenha I work and live on the
North Coast, so I would have to say that there
are many great purchases to be had on the
North Coast. Montego Bay, Negril, Discovery
Bay and Runaway Bay are all within close proximity
to the airport and with North Coast Highway
traveling around is very easy.
Where on the island are the villas with the
highest property values?
>>Andrew Issa Montego Bay, Discovery Bay
and Port Antonio.
>>Nicola Delapenha Anywhere with direct access
to a beach on the North Coast.
>>Sandy Tatham Discovery Bay, Montego Bay
or anywhere along the North Coast and if you are
looking for more affordable villas, Treasure Beach
and the South Coast offer some good options.
What should someone look for when they
are thinking of purchasing a luxury villa?
>>Andrew Issa For it to really be an income
earning villa, one should look for a villa that has
at least 4'5 bedrooms. Amenities are important,
as well as the proximiy to an airport, golf
courses, beaches and resturants.
>>Nicola Delapenha People like the feel of the
sand between their toes, so anywhere that is
on the water or has direct access to the beach
and any property with a view.
>>Sandy Tatham Location, services, access to
airports and amenities.
What sort of income can a villa generate?
>>Andrew Issa Jamaica is a well sought after
destination, so if a villa is properly marketed it
should cover all of its costs and in a good season
you can get a nice return on your investment.
>>Nicola Delapenha The villas that rent well
are the ones that are maintained to highest
international standards, so for example in high
season a large 7 bedroom villa at Tryall can
net between US$50,000 and $60,000 for two
>>Sandy Tatham Depending on the location,
a villa can generate anywhere from about
US$30,000 to $100,000 plus per year.
Can someone living overseas obtain a
>>Andrew Issa Most mortgage companies can
offer up to 60% financing and just like in the
States you have to meet credit score requirements
and show proof of income. Foreigners
do not pay any additional taxes over locals.
>>Nicola Delapenha Yes, anyone interested in
purchasing in Jamaica can obtain a mortgage
>>Sandy Tatham Getting a mortgage here is
easier than you may think and the process usually
takes around 60 days.
How will I manage a villa if I don't live here?
>>Andrew Issa Coldwell Banker Jamaica Realty can refer
you to property managers throughout the island.
>>Nicola Delapenha If you are in a very structured
gated community like Tryall or Round Hill, they have
management companies that are set up to manage
villas and outside of that there are many companies
throughout the island that offer similar services.
>>Sandy Tatham All of the major resort towns have
villa management services available that have been in
business for years.
What are the services like in Jamaica if someone
wanted to upgrade a villa?
>>Andrew Issa We have very good services here with first
class architects, interior decorators, engineers, contractors
and landscapers all who can be recommended through
>>Nicola Delapenha There are many high quality
services offered in Jamaica, so upgrading a villa is never
>>Sandy Tatham You would be surprised at the cross
section of talent available here to personalize or upgrade
Is Jamaica a safe place to invest in?
>>Andrew Issa Jamaica is a lot safer than people are
made to believe and I have had first hand experiences
of taking clients around and watching them let their
guard down; whether it is the beauty of the country
or the warmth of people that they meet, they have
been pleasantly surprised that Jamaica is not what it is
sometimes made out to be.
>>Nicola Delapenha The crime issue in Jamaica is
sometimes exaggerated. I have so many clients that live
abroad and come here every year and they feel very safe;
I think like anywhere else in the world you should always
be careful, but in general Jamaica is a lovely country.
>>Sandy Tatham I think it is a very safe place and in
Treasure Beach where I live and work we don't have any