Chukka upgrades Barbados attraction
From left: Marie McKenzie, vice-president, government and stakeholder affairs, Carnival Cruise; Paul Ludlow, president, P&O Cruises; Marc Melville, CEO, Chukka Caribbean Adventures; Ian Edghill, minister of tourism, Government of Barbados; Ralph Thorne, attorney-at-law and chairman, Caves of Barbados; Christopher Myles, head of projects, Chukka Caribbean Adventures; and Andrea Franklin, country manager, Chukka Barbados, celebrate the official unveiling of the Green Monkey Pool Bar and Grill at Harrison's Cave Eco-Adventure Park in St Thomas, Barbados.

CHUKKA Caribbean Adventures on Monday, March 13, officially unveiled upgrades to Barbados-based Harrison's Cave Eco-Adventure Park under phase four of the renovation programme it started back in 2020.

In addition to revamping The Green Monkey Pool Bar and Grill, phase four projects also included the installation of a new Chukka-branded pool and the introduction of The Pride of Barbados Nature Trail and Aviary. Both Chukka Caribbean Adventures CEO Marc Melville and Barbados' Minister of Tourism and International Transport Ian Gooding-Edghill shared in the ribbon-cutting ceremonies to welcome the new activities.

"Over the last two years, I have shared with you my focus and commitment to enhancing the natural beauty of Harrison's Cave, by introducing a diverse set of activities [that] encourage our guests to stay on-site longer or to keep [them] coming back," Melville said in a media release.

"As of today, we have added the Monkey Zipline Adventure, the Gully Challenge Course, the Welchman Hall Gift Shop & Boutique, the Discover Barbados Video Room, the Mount Gay History Room and Rum Tasting Experience, as well as enhancements to the Visitor Reception Centre, all to the tune of an investment in excess of BDS$5 million [approximately US$2.5] to date," he added.

Signange for the the Pride of Barbados Nature Trail and Aviary at Harrison's Cave in St Thomas, Barbados.

According to Melville, the objective of Chukka's development plan for Harrison's Cave Eco-Adventure Park is to enhance the options Barbadians and tourists could enjoy and exhaust on multiple trips to the cave.

Despite winning the bid to manage and enhance Harrison's Cave in 2020, Chukka's work was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruptions in logistic supply chains.

"However, we reopened to the public in July 2021 and I am pleased to report we are almost back on track with persons visiting the cave and returning to take advantage of the new activities we have added — this has always been our vision," the CEO stated.

Melville used the opportunity to thank all patrons over the last two years and to launch Chukka's 'All You Can Play Summer Promotion', which will run from May 15 to September 15 this year. The promotion will include discounts on tour packages as well as exciting events on the property throughout the summer.

The newly installed Chukka-branded pool at Harrison's Cave Eco-Adventure Park in St Thomas, Barbados.

He further announced the company's soon-to-be rolled out annual membership programme, which, he said, will allow individuals access to the park at special offers throughout the year.

These two new packages will coincide with Chukka's celebration of 40 years of being in existence.

For Chukka Barbados Country Manager Andrea Franklin, the unveiling of the new activities is fulfilment of the company's commitment to develop a full-day eco-adventure park that offers diverse activities while catering to multi-generational families.

"For those of you who have been with us from the beginning, you have seen our journey and today is yet another step closer to fully accomplishing this goal and delivering on our promise...With the addition of these two newest elements, we feel much closer to providing at least one activity that every family member can enjoy," she shared ahead of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

MELVILLE... as of today, we have added the Monkey Zipline Adventure, the Gully Challenge Course, the Welchman Hall Gift Shop & Boutique, the Discover Barbados Video Room, the Mount Gay History Room and Rum Tasting Experience.

She added that for the upcoming summer season, Chukka Barbados is positioning Harrison's Cave Eco-Adventure Park as a hub of activities for locals and tourists alike and that it can be used as a venue for corporate retreats and other momentous occasions.

"In fact, we have already begun to see the generation of interest in this amongst corporate Barbados," Franklin noted.

For phase five of Chukka's enhancement programme, which will last over a year, the company will begin work on the Cave Interpretive Centre, including modernisation of the overall audio-visual experience and incorporation of a more interactive environment; installation of the new stairway to the lower level of the park, which will begin in a few months; and increasing on-site retail options with the opening of the kiosks.

Chukka, which employs 76 individuals in Barbados, also has plans to install a dry slide and a suspended bridge at the attraction.

Started in Jamaica by John Melville in 1983, Chukka Caribbean Adventures operates nature-adventure attractions in its home country as well as Belize, Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic.

Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said the new upgrades at Harrison's Cave "offer a unique experience like no other". P&O Cruises has been one of Chukka's mainstay business-to-business clients throughout the region for over 25 years, arranging for tourists to visit each attraction.

"The addition of the challenge course, nature walk and pool area makes it particularly appealing to our P&O Cruises guests — those multi-generational groups. It enables families and friends to tailor their visit with the options to zipwire, admire Harrison's Cave and its fascinating history, or simply relax and enjoy the natural beauty of this unique location," he added.

Tourism Minster Edghill, for his part, noted that the upgrades will "improve and promote not only the experiences of visitors to Barbados but also to modernise and extend destination Barbados into the future.

"I think it is fair to say that Chukka, the crown jewel of Caribbean adventures, has lived up to its high-quality submission, which offered a strong proposal for investment and development of Barbados' greatest attraction and natural asset into an enviable [ecological] and adventure park," he added.

BY JOSIMAR SCOTT Senior reporter

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