NEGRIL, Jamaica – Negril’s small and independent hoteliers are livid with the island’s utility companies after suffering an Independence weekend plagued by electrical outages and water disruptions.
During this holiday period – perhaps the first time since the start of the year that most if not all of these resorts reported full occupancy levels as a result of the success of the Red Stripe Temptation Isle and Appleton Temptation Isle – several were left without light and water.
From as early as Friday afternoon, when the first group of some 20,000 visitors converged on the resort town, there was no electricity for hours, Evelyn Smith, chairperson of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association’s Negril chapter, told The Gleaner.
Mrs. Smith, who is also general manager of the medium-sized Point Village hotel, said the problem occurred again on Sunday, and early Monday morning.
“As of approximately 1:00 a.m. on Monday, the area was once again without water and we were advised that it would not return until about 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. “
Automatically, once there is an electrical outage in the resort town, Logwood – from which water is pumped – does not have the capability to do so. This was apparently the case on the weekend.
In the past, Mrs. Smith said personnel from the NWC have suggested that it would be a good practice for all properties to have water tanks. However, she finds this unacceptable.
‘Should offer more support’
“This borders on ridiculous, considering the rates that we pay for water and sewage.”
On average, a small 38-room hotel water bill runs between $220,000-$250,000 per month, while the hotels with 40 to 70 rooms pay from $250,000-$700,000 per month for electricity.
“Our utility companies should offer more support at times like this when it is well known that Negril will be full and they should be prepared to handle the load,” stressed Negril Escape Resort and Spa’s Carey Wallace. “JPS charges ‘demand charges’ based on the peak demand of hotels so when hotels peak in occupancy, our rates are higher. However, when we peak, JPS let us down. Will they make an adjustment in billing or are they going to charge us even when service was not provided?”