Archive for the ‘Emancipation Park’ Category


We spent two weeks, in Jamaica, at the Drax Hall Country Club and rated it three stars, considering its basic standard; it was a home or villa, if you wish, with no added plush. We opted for a villa-type setting instead of our usual four and five-star hotels because our family is of Jamaican heritage and we did not want the full touristy feel, while visiting the island.

A thorough research was done on the property, but considering that there were more positive reviews than there were negative ones, we took the chance and book the property via booking.com.

It turned out to be an interesting booking, too, because it was only after we booked it, then we learnt it was of a sole trader and not of an organization, but considering that the agreement, on booking.com, was a ‘no-refund’ policy, we had no other choice than to nervously see it through.

The payment process was unusual to us, but went smooth, in the end.

A detailed review about our visit and the accommodation was previously published at Bleeding Pen on WordPress, titled Drax Hall Country Club (Unit 355), so I will not cover too much of the villa’s details again, but I will say that the home was fairly ok; there were some hiccups, such as the home not being very clean, upon arrival. It seemed as if the home was left closed and not aired nor dusted for some time. Secondly, we had to deal with the issue of no internet for three days and, lastly, the washing machine did not work.

Other than those three issues, I could not think of a reason to discredit this property, even if I wanted to.

The owner, Alton, was very responsive to every call or message sent, by us, and as far as we knew, he did everything to rectify the issue of the internet until it was up and running.

Upon leaving the property, we did a quality control video walk-through to assure the owner that we left the home in the same condition, in which we took it; satisfaction was established and as promised, the owner refunded our security deposit within a week.

Feeling fairly satisfied with our stay, after returning home, we immediately began to spread the word, within our circle, suggesting that this property would be worth considering, if traveling to Jamaica.

And with that, our story would have been that we had a great time at the Drax Hall Country Club, to the point where we even recommended it.

However, that sentiment was short-lived.

Three weeks after returning from Jamaica, we were contacted by the owner of the villa, who notified us of his receipt of an electric bill which amounted to over fifty thousand Jamaican Dollars. And although, he made it clear that he was not asking us for any money, the mere fact of him bringing the bill to our attentions, immediately added a bad taste to our mouths.

As ridiculous as the sum may sound, true or false were not of any concern to us, but considering that we have never stayed at any hotels or villas, before, which the utility bill was brought to us, we will now have to reconsider recommending or staying at this particular villa in the future.

© Ian T. Sebàs 2017

© Ian T. Sebàs


After researching places to stay near Ocho Rios, Jamaica, we decided to go with Drax Hall Country Club (Alton’s place) for a number of reasons. Despite wanting to see more visual evidence (photographs/videos) of the property, beforehand, and reading mixed reviews online, the fact that there were more positive feedbacks than negative ones, was satisfying enough to book this property.

We booked the property, months in advance, through booking.com for a two-week stay. The booking process was simple and the owner, Alton, kept in touch throughout, with assurance of answering any question we might have about the property.

We did have some questions, which he answered promptly via email, so by the time we were to be in Jamaica, we had a pretty good picture of what to expect.

In addition, considering that we were traveling from Switzerland and would arrive in Jamaica, late on a Saturday night, we did make an extra request, for transport, from Alton, which he gladly obliged us with.

We, a family of four (three adults and one child) arrived at Donald Sangster’s Airport late on Saturday, July 29, 2017, where we were met by Calvin, our arranged driver by Alton. Calvin was identified from holding a sign with our family’s name, and immediately after introducing ourselves, we were overwhelmed by his warm, friendly personality before exiting the airport for an hour’s drive to Drax Hall, St. Ann.

Calvin was very entertaining and conversed with us during the one-hour drive. He further assisted us, by driving to Ocho Rios, to find food, considering that it was almost midnight when we arrived in the Drax Hall area and most places, including Scotchies, near to the Country Club were already closed.

After ordering some beers and jerk chicken, to go, in Ocho Rios, Calvin drove us to the Drax Hall Country Club, for the first time, where he was immediately recognized by the security officers, at the main gate, and was let in.

It was dark and not much could be seen at that time of night.

Calvin, who is also the appointed caretaker for Alton’s place, then gave us a detailed tour of the home.

The home’s main door uses a pin code instead of a key, which we found to be unique, plus the home has its own security system; codes to both the door and the security system were given to us two days prior to our arrival, by Alton.

The home is consisted of three large bedrooms including a master suite with its own bathroom, while the other two bedrooms are equipped with accessible built-in closets, unlike the master bedroom, and share a single bathroom and toilet.

The living room has a high ceiling which gives off a very spacious and airy feel to it.

Overall, the home is of adequate size and can comfortably house up to six people.

Each bedroom is equipped with AC and there were two available fans, which could be used for the living room area.

Initially, we had some problems with the cable TV and internet, which created a bit of discomfort and inconvenience, to us, but after relaying the problem to Alton, via text message, he took control of the matter and it was rectified.

Once up and running, the internet, provided by FLOW, was fast and reliable.

Positives

1. The internet is reliable
2. The hot water and water pressure were satisfactory
3. The home is of adequate size
4. The beds are big and comfortable
5. Refrigerator is huge and works well
6. Microwave works
7. Stove top and oven works
8. Lots of cupboards space in Kitchen
9. Adequate backyard space
10. Front of home is well presented (lawn manicured, paved driveway)
11. Feels like home (very secure)
12. Adequate space for clothes storage (wall-robe/dresser drawers)
13. Sufficient mirrors
14. Iron and ironing-board were available
15. Electricity was uninterrupted
16. Sufficient bath towels
17. Location is perfect and in reach to Ocho Rios and tourist activities
18. Owner and caretaker are contactable and reliable

Negatives

1. Not enough utensils
2. Washing machine does not work properly
3. No housekeeping service
4. Home was not 100% clean upon arrival (appears to have been closed-up and not dusted for a while)

The grounds of the Drax Hall Country Club are overall, clean, quiet, well secured and the neighbors are friendly (always greets and ready to chit-chat/assist with any lack of knowledge).

The pool and gym are located ten minutes away, walking, from Alton’s place.

The swimming pool consist of an adult side with a maximum depth of 5 feet, and a children’s side; there are sufficient sunbeds and accessible toilets by the pool/gym.

The water temperature of the pool is always warm and the pool is accessible up until 11pm every day.

Alton’s home and the Drax Hall Country Club were the ideal vacation accommodation for us, as a family, and we highly recommend it to vacationers to Jamaica, who are looking for a home from home feel; furthermore, we would definitely stay there again.

© Ian T. Sebàs 2017

© Ian T. Sebàs

Drax Hall Country Club is nestled seclusively in a lush of greenery near Ocho Rios in St. Ann on Jamaica’s north coast.

The development which is consisted of phase 1 (earlier constructed) and phase 2 (a later constructed site) boast suburban styled two and three-bedroom houses, with access to a communal swimming pool and gym; the homes are fully equipped with the expected utilities and furniture, and some with extras, such as WiFi, cable television and home security systems.

Overall, security of the estate is transparent with security personnel at its entrance and on patrol during the nights.

The video on Youtube (Channel: Familie Sebas), titled Drax Hall Country Club, highlights and features Unit 355, located at Cedar Cres. (phase1), which was rented out to my family as a holiday villa, where we spent two weeks between July 29th and August 12th.

With location, hospitality, comfort and security in mind, we based our three-star rating of Drax Hall Country Club, during this period, on personal comparison to other venues, where we stayed.

*The estate is home to many locals and not all homes at Drax Hall Country Club are used as holiday rentals.

© Ian T. Sebàs 2017


Even though the title of this article, as I have named it, contains a substantial volume of absurdity, it is as unfortunately true as it is ridiculous.

I recently stumbled across an article, on one of my social network sites, and although I usually scroll pass post which appears vain and useless, this one’s heading, although fitted the category of being impractical, attracted me enough to click its link.

Apparently, some authorities in Barbados, particularly in the immigration department, possess an intense prejudice for Jamaican nationals, who visits the Country; this bias appears to claim justification under being wary of criminal suspects. And although I am in full support of ‘being wary of criminal suspects’, despite their nationalities, Barbadians suspecting Jamaicans as criminals is a laughable notion as a person looking in a mirror, accusing his reflection of being someone else.

These two Countries fall equally under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a similar system to Europe’s EU (European Union) where it is formed to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members and to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared. Bottom line is, these two countries share the freedom of movements in and out of each other’s island, and like kissing-cousins, these two islands and their citizens face the same level of economical strain; in other words, there exist no real financial advantages for either citizens, when migrating to either of these islands.

And for these reasons, when a Jamaican travels to Barbados or a Barbadian travels to Jamaica, the purpose is usually leisure in tourist mode.

According to the article that I read, a Jamaican national boarded a flight from Jamaica to Barbados, and while airborne, she queried about the availability of tea, and based on her query she was suspected of being a criminal, mistreated, arrested and detained for a few months in Barbados before being released with an apology.

The article, as expected, was bombarded with comments, which many wrote describing the incident as common, but in a sigh of relief, many nationals of Barbados commented in utter resentment of the treatment received by the Jamaican national, and encouraged the application of a lawsuit.

Prejudices are rife in this world, and if these authorities know as much as I do, over the time of living outside of the Caribbean Communities, they would welcome each CARICOM members with smiles and respect, because unity is strength and we are all that we have.

Outside of the CARICOM, we are seen as foreigners, not as Barbadians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians etc; we are seen as Black or as Caribbean People and we are treated as such.

For example, in the European Union, WE are not first pick for employment, simply because we are not of the EU, and that is okay, EU citizens should be first pick in their communities; after all, it is their home. Wherever they roam within the borders of the EU, they are welcome, under the law without prejudice, and are allowed to equally travel and enjoy the EU’s tourism without harassment.

So, Barbados may want to take a page from the EU’s book and smarten up; being prejudice against your own kind is as ridiculous as it is a joke for outsiders looking in.

I can just imagine their mockery over this situation, “Hahahahaha, they actually think that they are better than the others because we have given their countries different names!”

Fair skin, dark skin, brown skin, light skin are still black skin. House slaves, field slaves, still a slave.

“Barbados, wake up!”

The Caribbean Communities are governed by mutual democratic laws, protecting its citizens, and my only hope is that this individual exercises her human and constitutional rights by suing the responsible department for her unfortunate ordeal, and although money cannot retract the experience nor buy back violated dignities, I urge her to take these individuals to court, for the maximum monetary fine allowed under the law, and set an example for any future likeliness.

© Ian T. Sebàs 2017

© Ian T. Sebàs

As the sun rises and shimmers on the sea, nature’s alarm sounds for me to wake up and embrace an astounding surrounding of green vegetation, picturesque views, waterfalls, white sand beaches, a roster of leisure activities, from A to Z, whatever my heart may desire, and delicious foods, all before she sets again.

But entertainment continues through the night as if it is the sunset’s lullaby, because This is Jamaica, where daily hustle and bustles show that its people work as hard as they play, and despite its unconventional methods of discipline, contrasting neighbourhoods, like its variation of mothers, Jamaica is nurturing, Jamaica is home.

© Ian T. Sebàs 2016