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Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:33

Jamaica is Gold

Written by  Melanie Reffes

If you’ve ever sampled chicken from a roadside vendor in Jamaica who had a barrel propped up and cut open, you’ve enjoyed Jamaican drum pan chicken. Served in aluminum foil without utensils, the smoky flavor distinguishes pan from the more well-known and spicier style of jerk grilling. Saluting the island’s pan chicken chefs, Caribbean Broilers Pan Chicken Festival is for connoisseurs of pan and those who cook it. Staged on Ocean Boulevard in Kingston, the tasty event includes a series of regional competitions that lead up to the grand finale on Sunday, November 18, one of a wide array of events celebrating the Jamaica’s golden anniversary.

Applauding fifty years of independence from Britain this year, the island is abuzz with cultural events, reggae marathons, street jams and yes, chicken competitions. “This is a significant year for us as a destination and we’re encouraging visitors to come celebrate,” said John Lynch, director of tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). (

The Chat Room 

The Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) will be held from September 30 through October 2 at the Sunset Jamaica Grande in Ocho Rios. The annual trade show is a well-attended forum for Jamaican suppliers to meet with travel wholesalers and tour operators from North America, Europe and beyond. Hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA), the show includes networking sessions, FAM tours and spirited meet and greets. (

Kicking off on Thanksgiving, Jamaica Epicurean Escape (JEE) is a delicious three-day food festival showcasing chefs, fine wines and the food Jamaica is famous for. Held at the Richmond Estate in Priory near Ocho Rios, the annual fete invites with cooking classes, sidewalk cafes and tastings in a grand tent. “The success of the event will not only serve to strengthen Jamaica’s tourism offering, but will also give celebrated local and international chefs a chance to showcase Jamaican dishes as well as fusion and international cuisine,” said John Lynch, director of tourism. Also on the platter for November, Restaurant Week is chockablock with discounts at restaurants in Kingston, MoBay and Ocho Rios. (www.visit

Omar Robinson, general manager at Round Hill has been named ‘Hotelier of the Year’ by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA). “I truly believe in the hotel and everything it means to the local community and to Jamaica as a whole,“ he said. (

A division of Toronto-based Sunwing Travel Group, Blue Diamond Hotels purchased the former Breezes Trelawny near Falmouth. Slated to reopen on November 1 as the Memories White Sands Beach Resort & Spa, the 349-room property was closed in May. “Breezes Trelawny fulfilled the dreams of thousands of families over the past decade,” said John Issa, chairman, SuperClubs. “This sale to Sunwing will ensure the tradition continues.” (


Reggae, Set, Go 

For Marley fans, a pulsating pilgrimage aboard a Zion Bus Line Tour to the village of Nine Mile where the reggae superstar penned some of his most iconic tunes is a must-do. Guides share all kinds of Marley trivia while a soundtrack of his greatest hits and shots of potent rum punch keep the party going as the bus snakes along the winding roads of St. Ann. (

For music lovers who also like to run, Reggae Marathon on December 1 is a staple on the international road race calendar. Now in its 12th year, runners opt for a full race, shorter ten kilometer run or a curbside perch for cheering on the winners. Along Negril’s Seven Mile Beach, the course is mostly flat, making it workable for even newbie runners. “The Reggae Marathon is a significant event on Jamaica’s sporting calendar,” said John Lynch. “Running enthusiasts from around the world converge in Negril each year for this fun and unique race experience.” Note to agents: American Airlines is discounting fares to participants, and hotels like the host property Couples Swept Away, are also offering discounts to runners. (

Presented by NIKE, Invitational Pro-Am Annie’s Revenge golf tournament will be played from November 14 to 18 at the Cinnamon Hill and White Witch courses in Montego Bay. “The tournament gets better every year,“ said John McLean, director of sales, NIKE Golf. “The feedback we hear is that more and more amateurs want to get involved, which gives us an even better opportunity to showcase our brand to a growing audience of active and engaged golfers.” (


On A Roll 

For clients who have a yen for good sushi, Kenko is open at The Holiday Inn SunSpree in Montego Bay. Upstairs in the resort’s main building, the Japanese eatery offers an innovative menu of teppanyaki and sushi along with tempting desserts like cheesecake infused with lemongrass and baked green tea extract egg custard. (

The Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios is wooing couples with the “Celebration of Love 2012” valid for travel through December 14. The uber-romantic five or seven night package includes accommodations in a chi-chi veranda suite, chilled champagne upon arrival, breakfast for two, candlelight dinner on the beach, Couples Sunset Massage at the KiYara Ocean Spa and two VIP passes for fast tracking through airport immigration and security and access to the first class lounge. (

Even if you can’t tell the difference between your kishkas and your chakras, the Caribbean Yoga conference promises to be a mellow start to the New Year. The weekend-long event at the Hilton Rose Hall, from January 31 to February 3, includes classes and workshops for grown-ups and kids alike. (www.caribbeanyoga


Love Guru 

Saluted as the top pick for weddings, honeymoons and otherwise romantic hanky-panky, Jamaica is now making it even easier for couples to exchange vows. An online service with a concierge the Jamaica Tourist Board named “Wendy” is aimed at couples who want to organize their nuptials in advance of arrival to the island. The Love Guru is on duty twenty four hours a day at or on Twitter



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