MONTEGO BAY, St James — Over 700 jobs will become available upon the opening of Spanish hotel chain RIU Resort’s seventh property in Jamaica, the 753-room RIU Palace Aquarelle, located in Falmouth, Trelawny, on May 4, 2024.
According to RIU’s regional director for Jamaica, Frank Sondern, in a similar vein to the other six properties in Jamaica, locals will make up the major portion of the workforce for the new resort.
“The component of foreign workers in all our hotels, if I put all six hotels [Jamaican properties] together, is less than 0.5 per cent, and that will be the same here,” Sondern said.
He was among RIU executives speaking at a press conference held at RIU Montego, on Friday, to update reporters with the progress of the construction of the Trelawny property.
Contacted for a reaction, mayor of Falmouth, Councillor C Junior Gager, who welcomed the investment, reiterated his call for Trelawny residents to train and become certified for job opportunities.
“I am once more pleading with Trelawny residents to become certified to make use of the new employment opportunities opening up in the parish. If Trelawny residents are not qualified for the jobs then people from outside the parish will welcome the opportunity with wide open arms,” Gager said.
In 2021 Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett; along with Carmen Riu, CEO of RIU Hotels, broke ground for the construction of the new resort in the burgeoning tourism parish.
“In 2020 we acquired a piece of property in Trelawny and by April of 2021 we invited Honourable Andrew Holness, prime minister of Jamaica; Tourism Minister Honourable Edmund Bartlett; and our CEO Carmen Riu to a ground-breaking of the RIU Palace Acquarelle. RIU Palace Aquarelle will be 753 rooms,” said Francine Wright-Acosta, RIU construction and administration manager.
She added that the project was 60 per cent complete, with full completion expected by December.
“We worked tirelessly to make this happen,” she said.
Niurka Garcia-Linton, RIU’s director of sales, disclosed that Palace Aquarelle has already received bookings since tour operators started marketing the new property in July.
“It’s two months that we have been open for sales so it’s still soft, but we are very, very confident that we are going to open in May very strong,” Garcia-Linton said.
She argued that the investment of the seventh property in Jamaica by the Spanish hotel chain underscored their confidence in the destination.
“In 2024 we are going to have seven hotels in Jamaica — all being well — 22 years after the first hotel was opened. I think it speaks volumes of the confidence the RIU family has in Jamaica as a destination,” she said.