Monday, 10 April 2017

TALK OF THE TOWN: Wyndham New Kingston on its way back; the absence of Jazz & Blues Fest, and more

TOURISM stakeholders, led by Minister Edmund Bartlett, have always stressed the need for more hotel rooms, especially to meet the demand in the corporate area. Now comes glorious news that the Wyndham New Kingston (formerly the Hilton) is about to be re-opened! Though no official date has been confirmed for its return to business, we hear it will bring back some 300 rooms to the sector and join the competition for A-list clientele in the city. Another much-buzzed about establishment, The R (which was at one point being called The Renfrew), is opening its doors for business in New Kingston as of this summer, supplying over 30 high-end rooms and two-bedroom apartments as an extended-stay haven. And word on the street is Sandals Resorts International’s 220-room AC Hotel by Marriott is slated to commence operations in Jamaica in the last quarter of 2019.

Quiet as it’s kept, the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival seems to have gone on permanent hiatus. Last we heard, plans were afoot for the staging of a spectacular 20th anniversary concert. But that was two years ago. Will we ever relive the musical magic that came with show-stopping performances from such headliners as Patti LaBelle, Celine Dion, Earth Wind & Fire and Beres Hammond? Time will tell.

Speaking of surprising changes, it would appear that Usain Bolt’s Tracks & Records is no longer putting on concert series like the mega-successful Behind the Screen, which used to draw hundreds of patrons to the Marketplace hotspot on a Tuesday night, to catch performances by everyone from Beenie Man to Konshens to Tanya Stephens. In partnership with Sharon Burke and the Solid Agency team, it was a splendid addition to Kingston’s live music scene – and a revival would be much appreciated.


* Will Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Lisa Hanna ever call a truce? The ‘culture’ queenpins are always going at it. But on the upside, as influential policymakers, they are keeping each other honest and holding each other to account, all in the name of good governance. One can only imagine the ‘friendly’ sparring to come between PM Andrew Holness and Dr. Peter Phillips on the campaign trail as Elections draw closer.

* Is Camille Davis returning to the flock at Jambiz Productions? Both Davis and fellow actress Sharee Elise are sitting out this season’s production, Frank the Freak, currently thrilling audiences at Centrestage. But while Elise has indicated that she intends to be back on stage for their summer 2017 production, Davis’ future plans are still up in the air. Both Elise and Davis have co-starred in such crowd-pleasers as The Baby Scam, Duppy Whisperer and last year’s Blind Spot.

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