Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | October 25, 2009
Home : Entertainment
Merritone, Jerk Fest pack Hedonism III
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

Monte Blake of Merritone Disco. - Photos by Carl Gilchrist

The current economic recession has forced the hotel sector to start placing some sort of focus on the local market in an effort to keep hotels open.

Whether this impacted on the full house at Hedonism III over the Heroes' weekend is uncertain. How-ever, one thing seems sure - Merri-tone's Family Reunion and the annual jerk festival at the all-inclusive resort, known for its risqué style, certainly helped usher in the crowd.

The jerk festival, started five years ago, has grown over the years and continues to attract Jamaicans who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kingston and have some fun. The festival has also given visitors to the island another reason to want to visit the resort and is added value for all guests at the hotel.

Coupled with the Merritone Family Reunion, which in itself brings its own followers, the hotel recorded full occupancy for the entire weekend for the first time, at least in recent memory.

international exposure


"The jerk festival gives exposure to the hotel both locally and internationally," observed the hotel's food and beverage manager, Andrew Cole, one of the persons behind the organisation of the festival.

"Internationally, as the word jerk means authentic food of Jamaica, a lot of people (visitors) are now trying to experience this and this gives a lot of exposure, not just to Hedonism III, but to Jamaica as a whole."

Response to the jerk festival, one of the few Jamaican-focused events in the local hotel industry, has been quite positive and, according to Cole, is an example of where the sector should be looking in terms of marketing strategies.

He also sees the festival as an opportunity for young chefs to exhibit their skills as, each year, culinary competitions are held among chefs from Hedonism III and other resorts. Experienced jerk cooks are also brought in from Boston in Portland to prepare the dishes.

Next month, another Jamaica-themed event will be held at another SuperClubs property when Grand Lido Braco hosts the Best of Jamaica Festival.

One of the many dishes prepared at the jerk fest.

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