5 questions with Charela Inn proprietor Daniel GrizzleSunday, September 12, 2021
CHARELA Inn's in-house restaurant, Le Vendome, is serenely nestled by the seashore where you can quietly dine al fresco to the calming sounds of Jamaica's bluest waves on Negril's world-class Seven Mile beach. Daniel Grizzle is the patriarch and head of the establishment that he runs alongside his daughters, Sophie Grizzle Roumel and Charmaine Bowen.
Known as a stalwart in the tourism industry, playing many leadership roles including serving as the president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce in 2018, he was recently conferred with the Order of Distinction, which is awarded to those who have rendered outstanding service to Jamaica. It is one of the highest orders one can receive as a Jamaican national.
A self-confessed 'country boy' who grew up in rural Hanover, Grizzle's family kept livestock and sold milk to a nearby Montpelier milk processing business in the neighbouring parish of St James.
As a teenager and as part of the Windrush Generation, he met his beloved wife Sylvie — a passionate French-born bonne vivante. He had planned to move to Tanzania in East Africa, but a trip back to his roots in rural Jamaica alongside some heavy persuasion from Sylvie ensured that they settled in Negril. She thought it was the best area for them to raise a family as they had by this time started a food business. Daniel would welcome and serve guests, while Sylvie prepared the dishes at their small café.
A graduate of the Warwickshire School of Agriculture, Grizzle used the bounty he made from farming to buy Charela Inn in 1980. He expanded the ten-room beachfront property to include 49 more rooms, maintaining the character of the original Spanish-style hacienda and distance from the sea.
C&E: What inspired you to get into the tourism industry?
When I met my wife she expressed that she wanted to share her love of French cooking with the world, so we decided to move home. We settled on Negril and opened our first café called Café au Lait, which was a representation of both of our nationalities and travels. Then we saw an opportunity to buy Charela Inn which was a quaint beachfront property.
C&E: How long have you been in the hospitality business?
I've been in hospitality for almost four decades. We opened the Negril Delicatessen in 1975 for a year, and then bought the Mirage Resort and then opened Café au Lait. In 1980, we bought Charela Inn from the Mucklows and opened the Le Vendome restaurant.
Before that though, I bought Cocoa Farm in 1974. It's in my birth parish of Hanover, comprising 172 acres of flat terrain. It supplies the fresh produce and livestock for the other properties. It has been the foundation of the businesses and afforded me to buy Charela Inn and Mirage Resort.
C&E: What are you most proud of?
I'm proud of a lot of things! My ability to speak on behalf of my community about preserving Jamaica's beaches and helping the less fortunate. The pandemic has hit us all, including the tourism industry, and we have been fortunate to be able to stay open even during the lockdown. We appreciate the goodwill of our patrons, some of whom have sent money to support our long-standing staff during these uncertain times. We also just won an award for best Luxury Beachfront Hotel by Luxury Travel Guide.
In addition, I'm proud that Charela Inn provides accommodation for the physically challenged as well as offering a fusion of global flavours on our menu. There is something for everyone at Charela Inn.
C&E: When it's all said and done, what do you want to be remembered as?
I wanted to be remembered as a family man. We treat our guests as if they are family. And when I started the inn and bought Mirage, I thought about how it would benefit my family and extended family. My daughters and my grandkids, Dominic and Camille, will all inherit the two hotel properties.
C&E: What can Jamaicans expect from an experience of staying at Charela Inn or dining at Le Vendome?
We have an international flair but we want you to feel like you are still in Jamaica, so we do have Jamaican breakfast as an option on the menu. Everything here is made to order from our Italian dishpan pizza to our pastries and desserts. Everything is served by our long-standing staff. Close to 100 per cent, well 97 per cent, of our total staff is vaccinated and we have open-air, socially distanced dining under the Negril stars.
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