Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
Luvs, it is to date, and unquestionably so, the most successful resort brand, with a loyal and dedicated following that spans its three decades-plus years of existence, and spawning new followers each and every day.
Indeed, the brand has been so successful, the business model has been the bane of many a hotelier not just nationally, but also on the international stage, with the latest being Mexico where a new brand of resorts have sprung up, using the model, tried, tested and perfected here in Jamaica.
That brand is Hedonism II, over there in fabulous Negril.
Dears, introduced to the Jamaican tourism and hospitality market back in the day when, due to international geopolitics and the polarisation and political lines of demarcation that were the hallmark of the era, Jamaica and its premium tourism product became somewhat blacklisted due to what was then seen as its flirtation with the communist block and ideology.
Back then, a young tourism dynamo named John Issa put on his thinking cap, and fashioned a new resort that was shrewdly marketed as Destination Negril.
Nuanced as a distinctly different destination from the troubled Jamaica, beset with political intrigue, crime and international plots and subplots, Destination Negril, which had already earned its folkloric stripes via anecdotal whispers as the vacationer's modern utopia, with the added lure and appeal of readily available 'weed', and ease of manner, gave rise to Hedonism II, which was created and launched.
Dears, with its marketing and promotional strategies that employed as its mantra, Sun, Sea and Fantasy, Hedonism II, was not only a brilliant intervention, it was sheer and pure marketing genius, tapping into as it did, the international need for an adult-only resort that was pretty much a fantasy playground.
Luvs, the resort became an overnight success.
That, my dears, was 31 years ago. Today, Hedonism II has attracted a brand loyalty that is akin to a cult-like following. That has seen like-minded vacationers bonding in groups, and making Hedonism II, an annual and/or bi-annual vacation getaway. With guests competing among themselves for bragging rights for the most return visits to the resort.
Well, my dears, since opening its doors 31years ago, on November 1 each year, the resort throws its anniversary smasheroni. Of equal import to its loyal guests is October 31, as guests jet in from around the world for their own Halloween party.
And so it is, my dears, that each year, it's a double celebration as indeed there are really two parties. On October 31 is the party for and by the guests hosted by the resort, but which sees guests engaging in friendly competition in costumes, decoration of their rooms, etc, where the winners are rewarded with complimentary holidays. And then there's the resort's November 1 anniversary - a fabulous affair that's all about fun and games, culminating with the coronation of the Miss Hedonism II Queen of the Year.
Dears, the motto of the resort is 'There is No Party, Like a Hedo Party', and it's a saying to which those who have guested over the years will readily agree.
Luvs, there are precious few resorts in the world where guests come not only to be entertained and have a good time, but they too take time out of their vacation to entertain in song, dance, skits, and mime. And even fewer where you will find an all-black rock band, in full rock concert, with a gender-bending, wig-wearing, stiletto-pumping female impersonator as its leading singer, supported by a cast of ripped and muscled Nubian princes and godlings as backup dancers, belting out songs by Led Zeppelin, Queen, Tina Turner, Aerosmith, etc, that earns a standing ovation after each performance. But so it is at Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica.
And so it was my dears, October 31 and November 1 represented two days and nights of nothing but fabulous partying, and fun and games at the island's leading fantasy resort, and pumpkins, how!
From the fun and games in the resort's au naturel party-size pool, to the white sand beach, the piano bar and karaoke singalong, and the flowing libations and sumptuous fares, plus midnight buffets and beach grills and bars, dears, we are talking one absolutely fabulous unending party here, and then some. And nothing beats winding down in the resort's disco, where booties are shaken, not stirred, and the adventurous try their hand at pole-dancing. Dears, we are talking sensationally hot!
Dears, for many, the partying was all week long, but for some others, it was condensed into two days and nights of unending hedonistic celebrations, and nothing but, with among those out for the festivities: hosts GM Kevin Levee and his stunning wife Cecile Levee; Lorna Grant; SuperClubs VP Gary Williams and Anna Williams; former SuperClubs VP Sam James Sr and Sam James Jr; George Halloway and son Garth Halloway; the charming Rose Richards; the esteemed Busha Clarke; the acclaimed restaurateur and entrepreneur Cosmo Brown; the fab Rosa Young; the dapper Bruce Spencer; the suave Steven Euker and his fabulous wife, Ann Chen Euker; hotelier Richard Bourke; the charming Karen Lannigan of Couples Swept Away Negril; her colleague, Ricardo Bowleg, of Couples Swept Away; the charming Alex Ghisays; Phillip and Patti Paxton; singer, model, and award-winning designer and chicster Ashley Martin; the always fab Serena Williams; and a host of others.