Kingston – A New Tourist Mecca?

As I scrolled though the NyTimes, this morning, this story just grabbed my eyes balls.

Kingston: Trading Beach Chairs for Bar Stools


IT was a steamy Saturday night in Kingston, Jamaica, and the Sky Bar was jammed with its usual weekend crowd: professionals in their 20s and 30s, by all appearances fit for the next flight to South Beach. Ladies in strappy stilettos and sundresses mixed with men in jeans and crisp blazers while the R & B-heavy soundtrack veered from Stevie Wonder to Ne-Yo and Kanye West.


I’d positioned myself on a red barstool beside the mosaic-tiled infinity pool. At the table beside me, two South American business travelers, ties loosened, were tearing into a plate of jerk chicken and drinking Red Stripes. It seemed almost quaint. I ordered a more trendy combination: one dirty martini and one sushi roll made with smoked marlin and ackee, Jamaica’s butter-textured national fruit. I chatted with the locals about business and politics, drank in the dramatic vista of the Blue Mountains and relished a muted symphony of car horns, reggae snippets and animated chitchat emerging from the sweeping boulevard below.


If this scene seems to defy the prevailing image of Kingston, it isn’t the only one. These days Kingston is filled with stereotype-busting options for travelers looking for a new, more authentic Jamaican experience. At Pure — a new, gleaming white lounge with chiffon draperies and V.I.P. skyboxes — techno music trumps reggae. At the newly opened 107-room Spanish Court Hotel, home of the Sky Bar, the lobby makes one wonder if SoHo has been transported to the Caribbean. Exit wicker and florals; enter bean-shaped white leather sofas, animal-print accents and jatobá-wood floors.


For most travelers, of course, Kingston stereotypes are irrelevant. They would no sooner consider vacationing there than they would in, say, the Gaza Strip. Gang-related violence has plagued Kingston’s so-called garrison communities since the 1970s, and the country’s high murder rate, though it almost never affects tourists, is a potent deterrent. So is the very urban-ness of the place, which stubbornly refuses to allow for beach chairs, umbrella drinks or “Jamaica, Mon” T-shirts..


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