fully integrated audiovisual system, and built-in
projectors and screens.
In the center of the complex is the
18,417-square-foot ballroom. Details like mahog-any-trimmed walls and ceilings and track lighting
help craft an elegant atmosphere, while surround-sound audio and a 15,000-square-foot catering
kitchen make the ballroom one of the most well-equipped meeting spaces on the island. Although
the MBCC is outfitted with all of the high-tech
amenities you would expect in a modern-day
convention center, you can still pick up traces of
classic Jamaican Georgian architecture in its design, including cut-stonework and colonnaded walkways. Interestingly,
traces of Chinese influences also turn up, such as in the ballroom’s lattice-work ceilings.
“We know that successful meetings don’t just happen, and
we take time to understand the individual needs and concerns of meeting planners and the priorities of our guests,”
said Dittie Guise, the MBCC’s general manager. “This allows
us to offer seamless organization, fault-free equipment,
impeccable presentation, the appointment of a specialized
team to provide top-notch service for every event, well-equipped meeting rooms, creative food-and-beverage offerings, and qualified technical assistance.”
MORE TO EXPLORE
Breaking out of the resort cocoon, as lovely as that comfortable
cocoon might be, is key to seeing the real Jamaica, and I found
that many local haunts are perfectly group-friendly. I spent one
evening feasting on jerk chicken at Scotchies, a place beloved by
residents as much as tourists. A casual roadside stop, Scotchies
roasts its jerk-seasoned chicken and pork over pimento wood
(also ask for festival, a delicious cornbread fritter).
About five minutes from Scotchies, the open-air Shoppes
at Rose Hall has 28 stores, a number of them duty-free, car-
rying everything from clothes to jewelry to locally produced
coffee and cigars, with complimentary shuttles servicing
nearby hotels from the Montego Bay Convention Centre
throughout most of the day. Across the street from the Shop-
pes is one of the area’s biggest historical attractions, the Rose
Hall Great House. The home and former plantation — said
to be haunted by its 18th-century owner, Annie Palmer — is
famous for its evening ghost tours (even my mid-afternoon
tour raised a few goose bumps).
The activity highlight of my trip, a hike up the famous
Dunn’s River Falls in nearby Ocho Rios, in Saint Ann parish,
makes the perfect team-building excursion for groups. Start-
ing at the beach, groups hike up the 600-foot waterfall, hold-
ing hands for guidance and balance. Also in Saint Ann, the
Green Grotto Caves appeal to both history and nature lovers.
According to our guide, the caves served as an escape route for
runaway slaves in the 18th century, and today house a large
number of bat species, along with stunning stalactites. The
tour is quick, under an hour, and makes an entertaining yet
peaceful stop after the adrenaline rush of Dunn’s River Falls.
On my last evening, I made a point to stop by Pier 1, a water-
front restaurant near the Hip Strip that turns into a nightclub
in the wee hours. With typical Jamaican hospitality, Pier 1
owner Robert Russell went out of his way to personally pick me
up and treat me to dinner. Over lobster and cocktails, Russell, a
sort of Jamaican Renaissance man, regaled me with stories late
into the evening about his fascinating life, from opening night-
clubs and working on movies like “The Harder They Come” in
the 1970s to starting Reggae SumFest, the island’s largest music
festival, about 22 years ago. Ending the trip the same way I
started it — telling stories, enjoying yet another perfect view —
how could I not fall in love with Montego Bay? .
Contributing Editor Jennifer N. Dienst is a freelance writer based in
Charleston, South Carolina.
Editorial content sponsored by Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Convene On Location
A big rush
ON THE WEB
For more information about meeting in Montego Bay,