BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-large South/Central Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
MANDEVILLE, Manchester - It's smack dab in the centre of the town, but you'd never know; the Mandeville Hotel is tucked away, cocooned even, from the bustle of daily commuter traffic.
It exudes peace, quiet and has a deep sense of history. And that's exactly the way its handlers want it to stay.
"We see ourselves almost as being timeless... we see ourselves as a constant...," says marketing manager Tanielle Elliot whose grandparents, Conway and Meteline McIntyre, bought the hotel in 1986.
"As much as Mandeville grows and as it becomes more bustling, we want to remain an oasis at the centre of a very busy town," Elliott told the Jamaica Observer Central recently.
Close to the Mandeville Police Station, a hotel establishment, known by various names through the years has been located on the site of Mandeville Hotel on the aptly named Hotel Street, since 1875.
The aging, original structure was dismantled in the 1960s and rebuilt much as it is today.
"We have not done any extensions to the property," explained Elliott. "We are sitting on four acres of land, so we do have space for expansion, but right now that's not in our plans," she added.
The property's long history as an asset is well recognised. A painting depicting the old hotel by Elliott's aunt, the late Hope Stewart, is prominently displayed in the hotel's lounge and tables in the bar, The Manchester Arms, bear intricate designs of the old building.
"We want to encourage that concept of old world charm," said Elliott.
To complement that "old world charm", three huge sandbox trees - home to a wide variety of birds — provide shade to the front of the property, and lush gardens to the rear embracing a swimming pool epitomise what Elliott says is the hotel management's commitment to a green environment.
"Listen carefully ... you can hear birds chirping, but you don't hear the (motorised) traffic out there, even though we are right in the middle of town," she boasted.
"We place great emphasis on maintaining a natural environment; a lot of trees, good amount of bird life. That's important to remain a green space in the middle of a growing town...," she said.
"What people love about us is the quiet, the intimacy. They feel like they are kind of cocooned...," said Elliott.
She concedes that heavy traffic in Mandeville's historic town centre often proves a hindrance to locals, but says visitors from even busier places like Kingston and cities overseas take traffic congestion in stride.
"To our Kingston clientele it's nothing to them... it's just life," she said with a light laugh.
Mandeville Hotel has 60 rooms, it employs just under 50 people and caters to a wide range of tourists, including Jamaicans who live abroad, and a large business clientele including sales representatives, professionals and government workers.
"We get a lot of business people; 40 per cent of our clients are business, mostly from Kingston," said Elliott.
The hotel is also patronised by a growing holiday crowd, and for the two-week period surrounding Jamaica's 50th anniversary celebrations in August, all its rooms were booked.
Accommodation aside, the hotel caters for "weddings, business events, a lot of banquets, retreats and seminars," said Elliott.
It is also seeking to woo more locals to the fare in the Arches Restaurant where "breakfast, lunch and dinner [are] served every day", and to the adjoining Manchester Arms, which, Elliott claims, is the perfect place to unwind at the end of a hard day.
"The prices are affordable, our beverages are delicious and we are known for our cocktails. We want to grow that pedestrian traffic from Mandeville residents," she said.