Visiting Jamaica is always a pleasure; in the last few years there has been a spate of renovations and upgrades to some of the established hotels in Kingston, making them ideal choices to for business travellers or visitors staying in the area; popular with locals for dining or partying, hotels such as Terra Nova have redeveloped with international standards and style, cleverly combining the history of the original with a modern chic aesthetic.
Once a stately home, the Terra Nova Hotel is a lush little spot in Kingston, Jamaica; there is a feeling of space, as foliage is used to separate different areas and walkways. Nature creates ‘walls’ surrounding the conference rooms, pool, spa & gym, with sculptures with an equine theme (a rearing stallion!) in front of the hotel, with the backdrop of the blue mountains. Art is clearly an important element of the hotel – stunning life-like masks by Nakazi Tafari adorn the walls, can be found buried in amongst the plants in the gardens and hanging, surrounded by vines. Terra Nova is an all suite hotel that goes the next step with lovely touches – complimentary fruit plates, water, coffee & tea; each day a fresh bottle of water with a chocolate – the little things that make us feel good! The showers were incredible – after a long day returning to our rooms was a welcome respite before venturing out again! We loved the elegant decor and luxurious details. One of our party had been assigned the Presidential Suite – upstairs from the lobby, it is fit for a king with it’s own terrace looking out over the grounds and private staircase downstairs; it has it’s own wet bar conveniently hidden behind screen doors and enough space to host our entire group…….the wine and a fruit bowl as a welcome gift was quickly opened and shared! The lobby’s cozy seating in rich colours with comfortable chairs, grand piano and what can only be described as sheer temptation at the patisserie – a gorgeous display of macaroons with other yummy delights was hard to ignore; it was the crossroads to a plethora of choices: two dining rooms and the hip Regency bar and lounge with the most spectacular wine wall display where those-in-the-know collect and connect. The food was simply delicious; the breakfast buffet made us put on a few pounds while the dinner menu was full of lip-smacking choices that we could barely finish!
While walking off the food, we discovered two European fashion stores on the ground floor and outside the back entrance a classic casino/gaming lounge with all the one-armed bandits and gaming machines you could want. On top of all that – the staff were always helpful and friendly, despite our many questions!
So you’ve arrived in Kingston, Jamaica. We know the list of things to do are endless – so here are our recommendations for 5 essential must-do’s if you have a day free to explore:
1. As you depart the airport building, our first recommendation is to hit the nut – the coconut, that is! Cool down at Going Nuts. Right outside the arrivals area, it’s a perfect way to refresh yourself after a flight. Go au naturel – remove the straw and use the coconut as your glass!
Norman Manley Airport, Kingston
2. Grab a taxi and hit the road – 56 Hope Road to be precise! The Bob Marley Museum is a mecca for any fan of Bob Marley and reggae music – where you can get a glimpse into the life of the legend.
A life-size statue of Bob stands in front of the house, next to stone lions; the house tour was fascinating, giving insight into the man himself and his rasta lifestyle, with iconic items on display (including the famous denim shirt he wore on tour framed on the wall), the bullet holes from the assassination attempt and a even a view into his bedroom. We could have spent hours reading the press clippings that adorned the walls from floor to ceiling in one room but there was still so much to see!
From the multitude of music awards won by both Bob and his family, to the studio in which much of his music was created, it was informative and interesting – the tour guide certainly knew her stuff. The official tour ended with a documentary showing in a small cinema which was a real treat. There’s a lovely gift shop where you can get all Marley’d up, murals painted on walls around the grounds and a cafe serving Marley Coffee no less – as if one needed more encouragement to stop and linger for a while….
Bob Marley Museum, 56 Hope Road, Kingston 6
Tel: +1 (876) 927 9152
3. If you time it right (close to lunchtime!), head over to Scotchies for a taste of some quintessential Jamaican cuisine – Jerk Chicken and an ice cold Red Stripe. Here’s a tip: if you get there early, like we did, you’re first in line when the crowds arrive. This place is chipping with customers all day. The amazing smells alone were worth the wait, as we watched the guys in the ‘jerk room’ cooking the chicken on massive BBQ pits with grills made of bamboo and covered with a piece of paling. It’s also a popular place to stop through after a late night of partying! FYI there’s also a location in Montego Bay & Ocho Rios.
Scotchies Jerk, Halfway Tree Road, Kingston
4. Onwards to the historic Devon House for dessert at the infamous I Scream – an almost overwhelming choice of 27 flavours of rich, creamy and delicious locally made ice cream, all made from fresh local ingredients. Some of the more unique flavours included Coconut Cream, Devon Stout (not sure about that one), Rocky River and our favourite, Soursop. A waffle cone comes packed to the brim with huge scoops of yumminess that we almost couldn’t finish. Almost!
I Scream, Devon House, Hope Road, Kingston
5. One of our favourite stores for a bit of retail therapy is Kerry manwomanhome – a unique boutique on South Avenue in Kingston that’s a haven for local fashionistas. It looks deceptively small on the outside, but once you step in the door the space opens up to reveal room upon room with beautiful displays and floor to ceiling shelving showcasing a carefully curated selection of fashion, swimwear, jewellery, accessories, footwear, beautiful coffee table books, art, body products and gift items from both local and international brands.
Retail Therapy at Kerry manwomanhome!
It’s a great place to find pieces by local Jamaican designers such as Lubica and Designs Bimi although the brands do change each season. Owner Kerry-Ann Clarke is also a stylist for none other than Tessanne Chin and Yendi Phillips. Tip: if you visit during opening hours and it seems closed – don’t worry – just ring the bell!
From auspicious beginnings, Jamaica’s Calabash Festival has become THE literary event to attend in the Caribbean, attracting some of the biggest names in literature from around the world and inspiring the development of regional literary festivals in islands such as Trinidad, Barbados and Dominica. Caribbean Bazaar spoke with Calabash co-founder Justine Henzell to find out more about how the “greatest likkle festival” has earned it’s stellar reputation.
There is a tale, often repeated, of how the first Calabash Literary Festival in 2001 was heralded by the arrival of yellow butterflies as the event opened, then disappearing as soon as it was over, as if the spirits of writers gone before were sending their blessings. A labour of love, Calabash has been built purely through the tireless work of volunteers and co-founders into a must-attend event for aspiring and published writers and authors where there are not only readings but seminars and workshops, all free to attend.
The idea for Calabash was sparked by the frustration felt by friends and authors Kwame Dawes and Colin Channer as they embarked on a disastrous book tour in the UK. Recognising that there was a opportunity, their “crazy idea” was to stage their own literary festival in their homeland of Jamaica. Realising they needed someone on the ground, Colin contacted his friend Justine Henzell, a freelance film producer with a predilection for crazy ideas and a family owned hotel called Jake’s. So the journey began……
Held every year for the first decade, Calabash is now a two-day biennial event held on even years, welcoming authors, writers, poets and musicians to the beautiful surroundings of Jake’s Hotel at Treasure Beach, a tiny fishing village in the south of the island. “It’s a heavy workload to put on an event like this every year. Holding it every two years makes it easier on everyone” acknowledges Justine. It was a practical decision, not just for the volunteers but also for sponsors and funding, which they have found to be the most challenging aspect.
“People thought we were crazy and insane – not only for developing a literary festival but also because of it’s location” Justine explains. “We started with 300 people attending and are now getting 3,000.”
One of the attractions of Calabash, she explains, is that “it’s not a staid and stuffy event.” The vibe is relaxed and casual, readings are framed with a gorgeous oceanfront backdrop; the stage is simply decorated with flowers and calabash gourds; the lectern is made from bamboo and uses rocks as paperweights. There is a feeling of authenticity, of genuine appreciation for the work being shared – the ambiance is that of a friendly hangout, where everyone mingles together. It goes without saying that reggae music is an integral part of the whole event, with performances from artists at the end of each day – Justine could not have conceived Calabash without it: “Music is a big part of it organically – every day ends with music” she says.
“We aim to share a good balance of literati [at Calabash]” says Justine, revealing a line up that includes representatives from Asia, India, Kenya as well as the Caribbean. For 2014, Salman Rushdie heads up a delicious roster of names including Jamaica Kincaid, Zadie Smith, Robert Antoni, Karen Lord, Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, Ngugi Wa Thiong’O, Mervyn Morris (Jamaica’s first Poet Laureate inaugurated this year) and K’wan Foye to name just a few of the nearly 30 invited to participate this year.
Indeed, previous participants wax lyrical about their experiences at Calabash. “I can’t tell you how many authors say to us it’s the most responsive/respectful audience they have ever had. [The audience] are sitting there…..they are not silent…….they are responding to what is being read, they are not chatting amongst themselves. Simultaneously responsive and respectful.”
When co-founder Colin Channer made a decision to resign from the board officially in 2012, many speculated on the reasons why. Justine is unfazed by the so-called controversy: “Kwame and Colin are best friends, even when we launched….[the 2014 event] in Kingston, Kwame referred to the ghost of Colin Channer that was hovering with us. Colin is not actively a member of Calabash but he is absolutely there ….if we need to bounce something off him, he is still there. Colin was such a huge force and part of creating the festival….the festival is imbued with him. It is hard to separate Colin from the festival. The three of us worked very, very closely to make this happen.”
The benefits emerging from cultural events held throughout the Caribbean often go unstated – for Calabash, being located so far south in the parish of St Elizabeth has enhanced and generated not only international interest but has also encouraged internal tourism. “It’s not a place you would pass by”, says Justine. “You have to be going to Treasure Beach.”
The influence of Calabash on the literary culture in Jamaica and the Caribbean is undeniable. “Local authors refer to B.C and A.C (Before Calabash and After Calabash). It has exposed our writers to such wide, diverse styles and forms. Many now published writers have emerged from our workshops, such as [award-winning Jamaican writers] Marlon James and Ishion Hutchinson.” In order to keep the event fresh, the Committee, led by Kwame Dawes, are discerning about who is invited and seek to promote a diversity of voice and genre, with 2014 seeing the inclusion of sci-fi and fantasy fiction for the first time. Participants are chosen not only for their brand appeal; other criteria include having a book in print within the last two years and ensuring a roster that includes emerging Caribbean writers alongside internationally acclaimed names. Invitees can only attend once every three events.
From the start the Calabash team have been very particular about the organisation and timing during the event, having been described as a “drum & bass mentality with Swiss precision.” Events start on time, which is sometimes lacking at Caribbean festivals and many would say that’s simply the Caribbean way. Justine disagrees: “[you] can be…..vibesy and rootical and start on time and have a PA system. It is not at odds with our culture to be punctual.” Having firmly established itself as a significant event on not only the literary calendar, but also as one of the major Caribbean cultural festivals, Calabash continues to raise the bar. All costs related to the staging of the event are raised by sponsorship as well as direct support from Jake’s Hotel, which closes down for a week to host the participants and attending press.
“Most challenging – without question – is the money. Everything else is a joy. Raising money for the arts..[is difficult] when people don’t get it. 12 years later they now realise [the opportunity]. We have proven it can work.”
Unlike the US and Europe, voluntary support of the arts is not a culture in Jamaica or indeed the Caribbean as a whole. “It’s another cultural thing that we are trying to champion. We are committed to keeping the festival free – with voluntary support it can work.” Now a registered non-profit in the US, donations can be made directly through the Calabash website or via cheque to Calabash International.
In it’s 12th year, Calabash is going from strength to strength, and has built a legacy with tremendous impact on the Jamaican and Caribbean literary landscape. “I am incredibly proud,” Justine shares, “Calabash is like my 3rd child. No matter how challenging, I feel truly, truly blessed to spend a weekend in one of the most beautiful places – with 30 of the most interesting people in the world.”
Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy” has taken on a life of it’s own – this infectious tune has taken over youtube.com with versions of the video created by people around the world representing their countries and tagging with the hashtag #happyday. The Caribbean islands also created their own videos for this worldwide craze, getting in on the fun and sharing some Caribbean happy! Have a look and let us know if we’ve missed any!
Director of Makeup Artistry and 22-year veteran at MAC Cosmetics, Romero Jennings, returned to his roots for the MAC Cosmetics SS14 Trend Presentation in Kingston, Jamaica. The beautiful Devon House was a spectacular location for the welcome reception, followed by dinner on the terrace at Guilt.
At the reception we had a chance to catch up with the M.A.C team, media friends from around the Caribbean and meet the models for the following day’s presentation – none other than Kerrie Baylis (Miss Universe Jamaica) and Gina Hargitay (Miss Jamaica World). Both Kerrie and Gina shared their desire to use their opportunities to step beyond just beauty to represent Jamaica in impactful ways. More to come on both of these ladies in the near future!
A delicious menu created for specially for the occasion featured a selection of canapes accompanied by a signature cocktail with Red Stripe (yes, beer….!), orange, cherry & ginger; highlights of the four-course menu included a divine pumpkin & ginger bisque and the finale trio (we love our desserts…..quite frankly we’ll pass on the mains once the dessert is worthwhile!).
Our table included the man of the moment himself, the effortlessly chic Novia McDonald-Whyte (Lifestyle Editor, Jamaica Observer), Jamaican PR maven Odette Dixon Neath (CGR Communications) and the gorgeous Gina Hargitay. Romero reminisced about his childhood in Jamaica (he moved to New York at 6), his mother’s remedies, ginger tea; Gina shared how her life has changed since winning, and her work with the UN. As the evening went on, each course was instagramed and tweeted; the fabulous and fun ladies from M.A.C joined us for coffee, duly snapping selfies while (we confess) some photo-bombing took place amid much merriment and laughter.
The team from MAC, as always, went above and beyond to host a delightful fun event!
Running through until 26 April, this free exhibition features ten contemporary fashion designers (all New York-based), exploring each designer’s background, how it influences their work and celebrating their ground-breaking, visionary designs along with their singular dedication to their craft.
Black Dress opens at a time when black designers, despite their growing influence and success, remain largely underrepresented in the fashion world.
These four designers include two with Jamaican heritage – Samantha Black, a former Pratt graduate, Project Runway contestant and Sammy B label maven, brings fierce feminine edge while Michael Jerome Francis shows his beautifully crafted environmentally-aware ‘sustainable couture’; and two with Trinidad and Tobago roots – Stephen Burrows, fearless fashion innovator with over 50 years in the industry and Donna Dove, visual artist and designer with her signature ‘wearable art’.
Conceived by Adrienne Jones and co-curated with art dealer/exhibition developer Paula Coleman along with with fashion consultant Walter Greene, Black Dress highlights the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that is required for success in the fashion world, presenting each designer’s work through an innovative installation concept showcasing each designer’s work as if seen through a store window, a la Madison Avenue.
Black designers are emerging on the scene with greater visibility than ever,” said Jones. “Black Dress will highlight the correlation between entrepreneurship, creativity, and locality. These factors work together to create opportunities for designers and their communities to become new destinations where fashion excellence and achievement are measured.
SS14 brings an authenticity to make-up, an honest homage to natural, healthy beauty, fresh and feminine, transforming the deep and rich colours of AW13 with a wash of light. Effortlessly radiant skin uses high tech products to create a low-tech look with colours that work on all skin tones and shades.
Presenting the trends for the season, Artistic Director and Jamaican son of the soil Romero Jennings gave insight into the themes, new collections and products along with his own tips and tricks for creating stunning looks. We also got to see some of the new nail colours from MAC as they ramp up their nail collection!
Sporty, gorgeous and glowing complexions are the name of the game – organically beautiful with a natural, sun-kissed look using peaches and pinks to create a healthy shine. Skin is translucent, showing subtle dimension and highlights.
Hazy, filtered Instagram-effects influenced, a palette mixing warm and cool is inspired by the 50’s and brought into the modern age using pops of vibrant colours – bubblegum pink, mandarin orange, green and lilac.
The New Eye-Deal
Lashes are the new brow this season. Eyes are feminized and attention-grabbing on soft, romantic skin. The timeless classics – liner, lashes and kohl – are used to utmost effect creating updated looks with a modern flavour.
Light reflecting make-up infuses a clean energy to whites & lights, creating luminous faces contoured without colour. White & silver contrast to make a matte red lip edgy; shadows have a metallic sparkle and shimmer.