Negril is on the cusp of becoming the home of a US$6.5 million Disney-style waterpark.
The state-of-the-art aquatic amusement centre, which is to be opened in July, will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. The project is the brainchild of former Negril hotelier Dr. Garfield Munroe, said a report in the Jamaica Gleaner.
Dr. Munroe was managing director of Poinciana Resorts Limited, operated the Poinciana Beach Hotel (now Sandals Sandy Bay), Negril, for several years before leasing the property to Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
Dr. Munroe said the family entertainment centre, slated for erection on five acres of land across from the seven miles of Negril beach, will change the hospitality landscape in the resort town, which is currently home to the multibillion-dollar, world famous Rick’s Café, but few other attractions.
He said Negril is a pivotal point in Jamaica, and that the waterpark will complement the many hotel rooms and recent tourism development within the area. According to him, some 250 Jamaicans will be employed to the theme park, reducing the high level of unemployment in the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland.
“It will rival any park of its kind in the world. In terms of acreage and size it won’t be as big as Disney, but will offer the same types of rides, same level of excitement and a mix of features that will bring it on par,” he told The Gleaner.
The park will feature nine major water attractions, including an extensive lazy river that meanders around the property, a kiddy’s pool with full interactive play centre, in addition to two main restaurants, four juice bars and three museums.
Plans are to highlight a theme that features rural Jamaican life. “I am a country man and I feel there are many things in our history that are disappearing, so the emphasis will be on the Jamaican culture.”
The facility will cater to children, parents and grandparents. “We are putting in Cabanas specifically for the grandparents and an upper level sports bar for the fathers,” stated Dr. Munroe.
As news of the project spreads within Negril and its environs, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association has welcomed the initiative.
“There is a great need for attractions in the area,” said Evelyn Smith, JHTA area chair.
“The water theme is very important to the Negril vacation experience, therefore the inclusion of a waterpark to what we already have is fantastic.”