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Sandals Whitehouse Offers a Jamaica Change of Pace By Mark Rogers

There’s a good chance if you’re a travel agent selling the Caribbean, you’re selling Jamaica. It’s also a pretty safe bet that many of your Jamaica clients are repeat visitors to the island. Maybe they’ve done the Negril/MoBay/Ocho Rios tourism strip one or more times and they now feel confident to venture further afield. These are the clients who should definitely be made aware of Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa; located on the southern coast of the island in Westmoreland parish.

Your clients staying at Sandals Whitehouse will still get all the bells-and whistles of a Sandals all-inclusive vacation, but they’ll also be vacationing in a unique and relatively undeveloped part of the island. The southern coast has its own set of attractions, its own laidback pace and friendly locals that go out of their way to welcome visitors.

Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa is set on 50 acres and has two private, white sand beaches. Most guests will arrive in Montego Bay’s airport and then transfer to the resort, which is about an hour’s drive away. There are 360 rooms and suites in fifteen categories, with all having beachfront views. Resort features include seven restaurants, six bars, a spa, and 14,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. Foodies will enjoy a variety of international cuisines, including Italian, Asian, Mediterranean and Caribbean - there’s even a Parisian-style patisserie. What really sets Sandals Whitehouse apart, aside from its location, is the resort’s layout comprising three European-themed villages, Italian, French and Dutch. Each of these villages has its own gardens, architectural detail and private pool. A wide central piazza has duty-free shops, restaurants, formal gardens and a café, bringing to mind the classic central squares in European cities.

Last October Sandals unveiled a $10 million reno and detailed refreshing of the property. The resort underwent a number of upgrades, including renovations to treatment rooms at the resort’s Red Lane Spa, the main lobby and all resort restaurants. Special attention was also made to soft goods and furnishings throughout the property.  In addition, the top two categories of suites – the One Bedroom Penthouse Honeymoon Beachfront Suite and the One Bedroom Walkout Honeymoon Beachfront Suite – were completely refurbished with updated furniture, upgraded soft goods and new plasma TVs.

whitehouse room

Sandals Whitehouse unveiled further news only a few weeks ago. Golf great Greg Norman made a scouting visit to the south coast of Jamaica as a special guest of Sandals Resorts International’s Chairman, the Hon. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart; and Chief Executive Officer, Adam Stewart.  Norman has owned and operated the Greg Norman Golf Course Design (GNGCD) company since 1987. The company has opened 74 courses worldwide and has an additional 36 projects in various stages of development. Among Norman’s world-class designs is the 18-hole Sandals Emerald Reef Golf Club in Exuma, Bahamas. This is a truly splendid course with dramatic sea views and six signature ocean-side holes.

During his visit, Norman announced his further partnership with Sandals in the designing of a world-class tournament course on the south coast of the island. The main aim of his visit was to scout several possible locations and layouts for the course.

“GNGCD’s design philosophy takes a minimalist and least disturbance approach which over the years has resulted in state of the art courses, blending seamlessly with the surroundings and appears to be a part of the landscape,” said Norman. “Jamaica’s south coast is very picturesque and we are looking forward to creating a course which will only serve to enhance the milieus.”

Tourism movers-and-shakers on the south coast welcomed the addition of the proposed course and the positive economic impact it would have on the region. They also praised Norman’s commitment to sustainability and preserving the environment.

“This golf course will prove an added plus not only to Sandals’ resort on the south coast, but to the entire region’s continued development,” said Stewart.

Sandals Whitehouse European Village & Spa

South Coast Attractions

Guests staying at Sandals Whitehouse owe it to themselves to get out and tour the surrounding countryside. Tours can easily be arranged at the Island Routes desk at the resort. Here’s a checklist of attractions that should be high on anyone’s list.

Black River Safari Excursion
The port town of Black River is the site of river safari tours departing five times a day from the dock beside the Black River Bridge. The 90-minute boat tour wends over pitch-black water through mangroves. Birds abound, including snowy egrets and herons. The highlight is the up-close-and–personal encounter with one or more of the 300 American crocodiles that live in the river.

Appleton Rum Estate Tour
Book a tour to the Appleton Rum Estate, the site of island rum production since 1749. The tour takes you through the working rum factory as well as a tour of an on-site rum museum. The Appleton Estate Rum Tour ends with a rum tasting and a complimentary bottle of rum.

YS Falls
YS Falls is the piece de resistance of the YS Estate, a working cattle and horse farm. When you arrive at the seven-tiered falls, it’s your choice if you stay wet or dry since there’s a series of wooden steps with viewing platforms. The hardiest travelers will want to try out the Tarzan swing over the waterfall’s pool. YS Falls also has ziplines, river tubing and swimming pools.

Treasure Beach
Six-mile Treasure Beach provides lots of local color, with fishing boats and beachfront food stands. Coral reefs lie just offshore; perfect for snorkeling. East of Treasure Beach is Lovers Leap, a 1,600-foot sea cliff which got its name from the story of two Jamaican slaves who were lovers, and who leaped to their deaths rather than be separated.