CARIBBEAN JEWEL

Jamaica 2018 | TOURISM & ENTERTAINMENT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Christelle Harris, General Manager of Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, on the distinguishing factors of the hotel, up-and-coming growth sectors, and maximizing Jamaica's immense potential.

Christelle Harris
BIOGRAPHY
Christelle Harris graduated from University of Toronto with a BA in 2005 and returned to Jamaica to work in the family business. As Director of Marketing for Hampden Estate, she is the voice of the distillery’s highly respected rum products internationally. She also established the Christelle Harris Charity Fund (CHCF) in 2008. Since the family’s acquisition of sugar and rum businesses in Trelawny in 2009, all funds raised through CHCF have been used to improve the infrastructure and enhance the learning environment in numerous schools within the vicinities of the group’s operations. She has a leadership role in the Hussey Group of Companies’ businesses.

What is the positioning of Terra Nova, and how is it different from other hotels in Kingston?

Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel delivers the complete boutique hotel experience by implementing a three-pronged systemic approach to Caribbean hospitality: bespoke luxury, modern amenities, and personalized white-glove service. Every suite is appointed with touches of old-world elegance and the comforts of international concierge standard modern amenities. Terra Nova becomes every guest's home away from home, as it boasts the getaway of an oasis in the heart of Jamaica's capital city. As the hotel was once home to Chris Blackwell's family, Terra Nova is an important part of Kingston's modern history.

Jamaica's macroeconomic indicators are very positive. Do you expect more businesspeople to come the capital?

Absolutely. Kingston's identity is starting to become more defined as a multi-faceted center of the Caribbean. While historically, tourism has been the major attraction to visitors, many other industries are growing at impressive rates. As Kingston is the commercial center of Jamaica, there has been a natural progression to more diverse groups of travelers to Kingston, and they are here to do business. Some sectors of growth attracting visitors with commercial interests are agribusiness, ICT and BPO, cannabis, logistics, manufacturing, creative industries, sports, and food.

What are the challenges for hotels in Kingston, and how do you plan to face them?

There is a historical corelation between Jamaica and tourism. Visitors to Jamaica still crave sun, sand, and sea as much as always; however, more than ever before, they all crave authenticity—the real Jamaica. Kingston is the best place to immerse oneself in as many aspects of Jamaican culture as possible, particularly if time is of the essence. We enjoy exposing our guests to the diverse experiences offered in Kingston—the sun, sand, and sea included, if desired. The crime rate here is not indicative of one's potential exposure to crime. With the help of our partner in social responsibility, CHCF, we strive to play our part in contributing to education. Our long-term vision as a nation should place education as the top priority, to ensure our social security and maximize our potential in every industry.

How can Kingston attract more tourists?

Kingston already has much of the tourist-related infrastructure to attract more visitors on vacation. In addition to cleaning up crime and the social elements that increase risk for visitors, targeted PR campaigns with the assistance of the Jamaica Tourist Board would be helpful in capturing vacationers seeking a more authentic Jamaican experience. Kingston needs to be sold as the one-stop on the map tourists must visit to complete their authentic experience. As demand grows, our fixed capacity needs to increase. There will be even more opportunity for investment as demand increases. We will require more hotel rooms, larger conference spaces, and more island-wide ground transportation. Kingston as a cruise ship port is a pipe dream at this point. The Urban Development Corporation's (UDC) Redevelopment of Downtown Kingston & Port Royal project is a complex, ambitious plan that could prove to be extremely lucrative, creating jobs, boosting the economy, and breathing life into what was once the commercial center of the Caribbean.

What are Terra Nova's main objectives for 2018?

Our mission is to maintain our high standard of personalized service that we are well known for. We also plan to continue to diversify our entertainment options on our property, adding to our existing gaming lounge, formal indoor and more relaxed outdoor dining options, and luxurious Regency Bar. We look forward to unveiling additional developments that will enhance the property's offerings in 2018 and beyond.