PUERTO Seco Beach Club in Discovery Bay, St Ann, opened in fine style two Saturdays ago to scores of guests, including Government ministers and Opposition Members of Parliament.
The popular beach, once named among the world’s top 10 beaches, boasts beautiful white sand bordered by light turquoise water and passably comfortable cabanas.
Closed two years ago, Puerto Seco was taken over by Guardsman Group, which spearheaded a $630-million renovation as the beach now offers scuba diving, a PADI Five Star dive facility, comprehensive water sports, including a floating aqua park system by WIBIT Water Sports. Guests are also expected to enjoy fine dining at the beach club’s restaurant and will be able to drink to their heart’s desire at the facility’s bar. There is also a gift shop, and outside vendors are allowed onto the property and will occupy one of several shops built for that purpose.
Guardsman Hospitality will manage the day-to-day activities at the beach club, where there are plans to introduce a second phase of development in May 2019.
Unconfirmed reports are that rooms will be added to the already luxurious property.
Executive chairman of the Guardsman Group Kenneth Benjamin, who addressed guests, said the aim is to establish the beach as a world-class, family-friendly attraction.
“I think we have put together the finest Jamaica has to offer. We remain committed to delivering exciting experiences for our guests in a setting with state-of-the — art facilities. In the 1970s Puerto Seco was regarded as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, and we are delighted that we could be part of the restoration,” Benjamin told the large gathering at the opening ceremony.
While speaking on the impact the development has so far had on the community, he said land prices have gone up by 20 per cent since the project has been completed.
Benjamin said small businesses in the area are also expected to benefit from the upgrade of the beach.
Centrally located, Puerto Seco is expected to be a main stop for cruise ship passengers from both the Falmouth and Ocho Rios piers.
In fact, contracts have already been signed with seven cruise liners which could see approximately 200 to 300 passengers from cruise liners such as Carnival, Disney, and MSC cruise ships visiting the facility and Konoko Falls daily during the winter tourist season. Konoko Falls is also managed and operated by Guardsman Hospitality.
Close to 100 people have been employed at the facility with approximately 85 per cent coming from nearby communities.
Guests at the official opening had high praises for Benjamin and his team, with several agreeing that the property is “a hotel without rooms”. Several were in awe of the property’s beauty with some saying the beach reflects a major transformation from what existed before.
“This is truly an outstanding facility,” said Jennifer Griffith, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw said that he is impressed with the work Benjamin is doing in Jamaica.
“We are very happy with this impressive renovation that has been done,” Minister of Education and Jamaica Labour Party candidate for St Ann North Western Senator Ruel Reid said. He was speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Andrew Holness who was unable to attend.
Opposition spokesman on tourism Dr Wykeham McNeill described the facility as “a hit”.