Naturalised J'can to be recognised at National Honours and Awards ceremony


Naturalised J'can to be recognised at National Honours and Awards ceremony

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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ON Monday, October 21, Richard Patrick Salm will be among Jamaicans who will be recognised for their contribution to national development at the National Honours and Awards ceremony at King's House.

He will be awarded the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD) for service to tourism, winter sports promotion and community development.

Salm, a naturalised Jamaican, first came to Jamaica in June 1963, at a time when it was only a winter destination, on his way to work on the Ski Portillo in the Chilean Andes.

He had broken his leg in a car accident in France the summer before, and was trying to retain his place on the British Olympic Ski team by spending the European summer skiing in the Southern Hemisphere.

Salm persuaded British Airways to provide him with a complimentary ticket to Santiago, on the basis that he was going to write some articles for the Times featuring the airline, and naturally he took the opportunity of stopping at every place he could on the way. The first place he stopped was Montego Bay, St James, where he was captivated by the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the island.

While in Jamaica, he met a few people, including the late former Minister of Tourism Frank Pringle, who according to Salm, made the mistake of telling him that if he ever came back to Jamaica he should look him up.

In 1968, five years after his first visit, having finished reading law at Cambridge University, called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, and spent a couple of years working in a merchant bank in London, Salm, then aged 26, gave it all up and emigrated to Jamaica.

Along with a group of university friends from England, they bought a piece of swamp land in Salem, Runaway Bay, and conceived the idea of building the hotel Club Caribbean.

He also took up Pringle's invitation and looked him up and with his help, they started Club Caribbean.

In 1971, the first phase of Club Caribbean was constructed. This 60-room resort was unusual for a number of reasons. Not only was it not normal to try and create a hotel on reclaimed swamp land, but the whole idea of building a cottage colony as opposed to a standard hotel was unheard of in Jamaica. In addition, this was the first hotel in Jamaica to advertise for local tourists.

In 1992 construction began on the second phase of Club Caribbean, since the hotel was already proving too popular for its size. Today, the resort has 220 rooms.

Construction of the resort created employment for the citizens who respected Salm for providing much-needed employment, but also for working alongside them while the property was being bushed and cleared for development.

According to Salm, he had to give back to the community by way of social programmes and other interventions that would positively impact the lives of many youngsters.

In 1988, he acquired Drax Hall Estate, also in St Ann. One of the first things he did was to donate 30 acres of the property to the St Ann Parish Council for a community sports complex. As a keen sportsman himself, having been involved not only in skiing, but also in tennis, squash, cricket, rugby, and boxing, he was of the firm belief that if the youth were to become involved in sporting activities, this would keep them off the street and help to reduce the crime rate in Jamaica.

Salm tells JIS News that he started a tennis programme at the hotel, where aspiring young tennis players could act as ball-boys or ball-girls, while the guests were on the court and who were allowed to train and play when the court was free.

“It was not long before this programme produced Jamaican champions in virtually every age group. The tennis programme became so popular that the hotel, at one point, hosted the national championship,” he says.

He was also instrumental in starting the Jamaica Ski Federation, and his son represented Jamaica at the World Championship in 1999. Jamaica also produced an excellent skier, Errol Kerr, who represented the country in 2010 at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, where he placed ninth.

Salm believes that an educated society is a progressive one, so in 1994 he and his Jamaican wife, started the Glen Preparatory School in the backyard of their home in Salem, sponsoring the children of hotel staff.

It began with just eight children and had to be moved to Discovery Bay when the number grew to 60.

After over 50 years in Jamaica, where he calls home, he points out that he goes back to England during the summer to see friends and visit places, but always looks forward to coming back home to Jamaica.

He says he believes that Jamaica has a tremendous advantage as a tourist destination, especially since it is always warm, while it gets cold certain time of the year in other places, and the fact that Jamaica is an English-speaking country and the majority of visitors come from English-speaking places of origin.

“We are also on the right track in moving towards a more inclusive tourism programme, which is not limited to just sea and sand. It is now more cultural,” he says.

Salm also led the development of Ironshore in Montego Bay, which boasts an impressive 18-hole golf course. Salm is currently developing Drax Hall Estate into an exclusive integrated casino, golf and country club resort.

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