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J'can entertainment flavours Sandals STAR Awards

Shaggy, Fab Five leave travel agents begging for more

Monday, December 10, 2018

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For four nights, from November 28 to December 1, 2018, the scenic northcoast resort town of Ocho Rios pulsated with the sound of top flight Jamaican entertainment that sent hundreds of travel agents from across the globe into undiluted ecstasy.

It was supposed to be the Sandals Resorts International 17th annual STAR Awards, the largest appreciation gala in recognition of travel agents who sell Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean as the destination of them all.

Gary Sadler, the Jamaican vice-president of Global Sales at Miami-based Unique Vacations, brought together his enviable sales force of representatives from Central & South America, the United States of America, Canada and Europe to pitch the latest in resort wizardry.

But at night it was the entertainment that dragged weary travel agents out of their rooms to be held spellbound by island musical magic. And no one gave it to them more than Jamaica's international reggae superstar, Shaggy “Mr Lover Lover” Burrell.

On night one, the experience was flavoured by Jamaica's evergreen Fabulous Five band who took the visitors on a Caribbean journey under the stars on a floating stage, in a session dubbed “Rhythm on the Pier” at the luxurious Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.

Lead singer Andrew Cassanova drew on the band's wide repertoire to get the guests jumping and waving to the irresistible beat and Maximus Dan's Soca Train that lured the guests into a conga line that snaked its way to the stage, joining the Fabulous Five in the ocean.

“Shhh… It's a party,” was Thursday night's theme for which the guests were whisked away to the neighbouring Beaches Ocho Rios, where ultimate silence was the order of the night. Agents enjoyed a “silent headphone” experience, hosted by four disc jockeys, each showcasing various genres of music such as country, pop, R&B, reggae, and dancehall, while they dined.

Friday's fare commenced with a special introduction to the Sandals “Aisle to Isle” Wedding experience. The agents were exposed to a number of wedding inspirations, complemented by the melodies of a violinist, cellist, steel pan players and a vocalist.

But come nightfall, it was the bewitching “Night of the Stars” when agents, after receiving awards for stand out performances, turned their attention to the incredible talents of the Sandals entertainment coordinators or playmakers who left them screaming for more.

Commencing with the singing of the Jamaica National Anthem by Tariqu Burger, they were then wowed by Shelly Dean Bartley also known as Super Shelly, a favourite of the agents, who did a rendition of Heather Headley's A Moment Like This. The Sandals Ocho Rios playmakers did not stop there as they brought the energy with a show-stopping excerpt of the Burlesque Show.

On the final night, it was all Shaggy, preceded by Canada's Sean Jones who lit up the stage and prepared the crowd for Mr 'Bombastic', fresh from his European tour. Shaggy delivered his expected riveting performance which had the women eating out of his hands.

As he executed his stage antics to the screams of adoring fans, Shaggy could do no wrong; drawing for older hits such as Mr Bombastic, It Wasn't Me and Hey Sexy Lady before introducing a few new ones such as Don't Make Me Wait featuring megastar Sting. He brought the house down to resounding cheers and applause following performance of his latest single Use Me.

Resort managers were overwhelmed by the comments of the satiated guests who praised Sandals for the top quality the Jamaican entertainment they were afforded, saying it was one of the experiences they looked forward to each Star Awards presentation.


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