A newsletter from the Jamaica Tourist Board
to keep you up-to-speed on island happenings. November 2010
Linda Boyce

Enchanted Gardens Welcomes Visitors
Mark Rogers

Ocho Rios has been getting a lot of attention with bright and fresh new attractions such as Mystic Mountain and Dolphin Cove. A less brash Ochie newcomer - but with a lot of appeal of its own - is Enchanted Gardens. It’s an easy-to-miss attraction that offers a deeply shaded cool respite from the bright sun of the beach. The 20-acre property was previously owned by former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Hon. Edward Seaga. It was originally opened in 1991 as Enchanted Gardens Resort & Spa. While the resort flew under the radar of most U.S. travel agents, it was a popular choice with local Jamaicans and in-the-know FIT travelers. Enchanted Gardens Resort & Spa eventually closed down in 2000. Under new ownership, the gardens have seen a rebirth to the tune of 5.4 million dollars, with another injection of at least another million to follow.Mark and Sophy

“The goal is to create a family-oriented attraction, “says Dr. Howard Reid, managing director, Science Research & Innovation Ltd.

A walking tour of the gardens hinges on the gardens 14 waterfalls. Each of these bears a colorful name, such as, Golden Age Falls, Oooh Falls, Brain Falls and Turtle Falls. During the guided tour you won’t have the option to take a dip in the falls, but for the price of admission you’re encouraged to stay at the gardens all day, with the option to get wet. A long, peaceful afternoon could be experienced swimming in the falls by those travelers with some downtime scheduled in their itineraries.

During the nature walk, to the sounds of cicadas in the towering trees, the guide will indicate such plants as the ginger lily, whose presence denotes the nearness of water fresh enough to drink; or the solitaire palm, also known as the dreadlock palm because of its resemblance to a Rasta’s dreads. Along the walk you’ll also have fragrant spice plants pointed out, such as pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

The aviary is the garden’s interactive piece de resistance. I’ve been to dozens of aviaries – this is the first one where colorful budgies, parrots and parakeets swirl through the air to land on your arms, shoulders and even your head. I love experiences like these, and thankfully the birds didn’t do their business on me.

“The aviary presently holds 12 species of birds, we’ll grow that to 50 species,” says Reid.
If you’re not a bird-lover, you’ll want to pass this one by. One guy in our party did hold back, referencing the classic Hitchcock thriller, The Birds, a film in which birds peck the hell out of people and take over the world. For me the aviary was the high point of the tour.

The gardens have a koi pond, and a presently empty duck pond, which in the months to come will welcome a new population of ducks. In June the gardens will open a butterfly farm. In December they’ll launch the reception hall for weddings, including destination weddings. Currently they have a snack counter selling basic refreshments and they hope to have a full-scale restaurant in full swing by December. According to Reid, they haven’t ruled out adding hotel rooms.

Admission is $20 for adults; $10 for children. Enchanted Gardens pays 10 percent commission to agents.


Jamaica Connection
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