Jamaica beyond all-inclusive resorts – The New York Times

Five months later, 15-year-old Kiara decided to take over the business; Balance it alongside school work and her ambitions study to become a lawyer or entrepreneur in America. Despite her age, she understands the power of legacy. With the help of her family and her mother’s many friends from around the world, she continues to host guests at the retreat.

One evening Kiara joined me in the communal kitchen to talk about the business and why she decided to keep it going. “She wanted it to be this black Jamaican women’s company. She just loved being strong and independent,” she said.

What makes the property special among thousands of Airbnbs across Jamaica is its commitment to these ideals. “It’s really rare in Jamaica that a woman was born into poverty and became as successful as Mel did with her goat pasture,” said Stacey Davis, a family friend who helped Mel in the early days of the retreat. “Every flower in this retreat, everything you see, she made by hand.”

Though Kiara has had some financial struggles maintaining the property since her mother’s death, it remains a sanctuary for guests seeking that ephemeral and elusive quality: authenticity. Mel and now Kiara encourage guests to engage with the local community on the south side of the island.

At Benta River Falls, about an hour’s drive from Mel’s, we were treated to a joyous day at a series of waterfalls and deep pools led by two energetic guides. The property’s owner, Stacy Wilson, played dominoes with a few men in the small bar next to the falls while we ate a delicious plate of crispy fries and giggled with the pink-haired bartender. Mr. Wilson’s American cousin, Jahcobee Faith, explained that the family has owned the area since the 1970s, but only opened a shop in 2017 and, at the time of our visit, was charging $20 for tourists and a nominal Jamaican $500, or about $3.25, for Local people.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/09/travel/encountering-another-jamaica.html Jamaica beyond all-inclusive resorts – The New York Times


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