Domestic tourism helping to sustain Chukka
Corporate clients flock the Jamaican local attraction
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
A recent multimillion-dollar expansion to Chukka Good Hope in Trelawny has resulted in the attraction receiving a boost from the domestic tourism market.
Several corporate entities are flocking to the local attraction for team-building exercises, retreats, staff and family fun days, instead of hopping on an aircraft for another Caribbean destination or North America.
In the last six months, more than 7,400 Jamaicans employed to companies such as the Jamaica Money Market Brokers, Rainforest Seafoods, National Commercial Bank, The Gleaner, Wray and Nephew, Sagicor and Carreras, have opted to use the Trelawny attraction for group outings.
"Although we have a number of Chukka attractions on the island, the most popular among Jamaicans currently is Good Hope because of the diversity it offers," Chukka's chief executive officer, John Byles, told Hospitality Jamaicalast week.
Byles noted that the groups range between 32 and 1,200, the latter being the largest number they can accommodate.
"We cater to all ages and all sectors. We have something for everyone, including a 9,000-square-foot aviary of indigenous and exotic birds, a swimming pool and children's play area, adult challenge course and a Colonial Village."
In fact, the Colonial Village features an Appleton Estate Rum Bar, Jablum Coffee House and Walkerswood Jerk Hut, where guests can see, smell, touch and taste locally manufactured products.
The attraction also recently introduced new park passes offering something for every guest visiting, "whether you're seeking adventure, culture or leisure", said Byles.
The activities are supplemented with bounceabout, gem mining and horse and carriage, which he said are favourites among the children who visit.
For adults, Byles said there was a full range of nature adventure activities intertwined in the 250-year history that the property boasts.
"This includes ATVs, dune buggies, zip line adventures, river tubing, and the great house and plantation tours," said Byles.
The Chukka CEO declared that domestic tourism is helping to sustain Good Hope, pointing out that Trelawny is perfectly situated in almost the middle of the country, and as a result, Jamaicans coming from either end of the island benefit from this.
Byles' optimism is shared by Rainforest Seafood's chief executive officer, Brian Jardim, who in a testimonial recently, spoke of the experience exceeding his and his staff's expectations.
Rainforest took 1,000 staff to the attraction last October.
"The Chukka team was a delight to work with - from their attention to the smallest of details, their response to all of our questions and concerns and their efforts to accommodate the diverse needs of our group. We were treated to a great day filled with delicious food, engaging entertainment and a wide range of activities from ziplining to river tubing. I can highly recommend Chukka for corporate gatherings. The Rainforest team will certainly be back," he said.
Other Chukka attractions doing reasonably well with locals are the signature horseback ride and swim at the White River Valley in St Mary and the Catamaran and Dunn's River Experience.
"Occasionally, locals book the catamaran for parties and wedding receptions," said Byles.
Brides he said have had their 'Trash the Dress' with the horseback ride, going to cliff side of Chukka Farms in Ocho Rios. They have also hosted several weddings at Good Hope and the Cranbrook location in St Ann.
As it relates to team building exercises, Byles explained that the companies usually visit with 20 to 60 of its team members for activities such as branding, contact tubing and sponge war.
"They are placed in a closed area and are required to push each other, the idea is not to be pushed to the edge of the pool. It shows them how to win as a team," said Byles.
Team building has been a staple at the attraction for the last six years.