The first new hotel in Kingston for nearly forty years merges luxury, comfort and style, writes Joe Shooman.
The Spanish Court Hotel opened in New Kingston earlier this year and it slots into Jamaica’s cultural centre with a blend of boldness and contemporary style.
Lawyer and village architect Christopher Issa set to revamping the old Spanish Court Shopping Centre in his hometown, bringing in architect Oscar Garcia to transform the structure into a 107-room boutique hotel, preserving its Spanish-influenced exterior and arches on the ground floor.
For the interiors, Issa looked for someone who understood both contemporary design and who had a feel for Jamaica too. He chanced upon Alison Antrobus when he saw one of her designs, for a restaurant, in a magazine.
“I thought, ‘that design has what I am looking for and it was done by a Jamaican-born designer’.
“I Googled her, called, and she answered. My pleading and pulling on her Jamaican heartstrings began and the rest as they say is history,” Issa said.
Antrobus’ vision was to start with a large, open lobby that is multi-use – rather than walls there are teak pivoting louvers to delineate space.
Thus, there’s a section known as the library featuring leather couches and high back chairs, plus a zebra-print lounger with a reading lamp. The bean-shaped leather benches and chandeliers by Martin Fluss add swathes of light to the jatoba-wood floors throughout the hotel.
The Spanish Court Café features a multi-function dining bar that can serve as breakfast buffet or cocktail bar. Its front is an unique concept: an acrylic, backlit ‘hedge’. The bar is bisected on its diagonal with a long table which immediately creates a socialising area. There are also rich mahogany tables and intimate cabanas, taking the multi-purposing to another degree.
The free wi-fi and virtual business centre, allied to 24-hour concierge service, add a business edge as do the meeting rooms. The Sky Terrace – overlooking New Kingston – has a capacity of 50 people and the infinity pool is the best place to view the city. Soon a rooftop garden spa will be added to the hotel as it continues its expansion.
As for the rooms, they come together in a cleverly modern aesthetic of innovative design and décor inspired by the Jamaican palette of black, green and gold.
Expect the full smorgasbord of amenities, including air conditioning, ceiling fans, customized inset lighting, blackout blinds, electronic safe, coffee maker, iron and everything you need to make your stay a comfortable one. Not to mention the 24 inch high-def plasma TV, iPod docks and VOIP phones.
Bathrooms can often be the difference between choosing to return to a hotel or otherwise, and here the emphasis is on light decoration, black counter-tops and white sinks with colourful backsplash rendered in glass. Rusk toiletries add a layer of opulence.
There’s also an energy-saving feature in all rooms. The guest’s key, put in a slot by the door, acts as a switch to turn on the power. Once the key is removed or the guest leaves the room, any lights and appliances that might have been left on will automatically shut off after a couple of seconds. In addition, their 50-foot long Infinity Edge Lap Pool is a non-chlorinated pool with the cleaner a skin and eye-friendly/eco-friendly chemical
The hotel is fourteen miles from Norman Manley International Airport, 25 miles from the Blue Mountains and within four miles of both Devon House and the Bob Marley Museum.
Since its opening the hotel has been popular with travellers who have praised the high quality of customer service, feeling of safety and peaceful surroundings.
It seems like it really is a truism that good things come to those who wait. Forty years is a long time, but Spanish Court Hotel has set the bar for mid-priced, good quality accommodation to suit the casual and business traveller alike.