The management and staff of CocoLaPalm – a Seaside Resort, are cognizant of the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, but that has not deterred them from extending the same high-quality service to guests, which they have been doing for the past 25 years.
They are also offering special discounted rates to Jamaicans locally and those in the Diaspora who stay at the property.
The 107-room CocoLaPalm property, located along the swanky Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril, Westmoreland, is deemed the largest boutique resort in the parish. It is also purported to own the largest outdoor jacuzzi in that area.
Basking in the achievements of celebrating 25 years in the tourism industry, Managing Director, William Vassell, disclosed that they are proud of what they have achieved so far. “I started in 1995 with 19-rooms. Today, we have grown to having 107 rooms. It’s marvellous,” he remarked, while describing the journey. He explained that the hotel has undergone various points of development since coming into being – building rooms and expanding the restaurant and bar.
Chairman John Vosika, a US citizen, said it was one of the best decisions he made when he invested in the property, and by extension, the Jamaican tourism industry. “For years, I had been very impressed with the Jamaican tourism product, the warmth and friendly attitude of the people and the culture, so when the opportunity came to invest, it was a seamless decision for me,” Vosika said.
“I have a complement of some of the finest staff, a bunch of people that anyone in the industry would be proud to have on their team. I am also grateful to the many guests whom have chosen to vacation at CocoLaPalm over the past 25 years,” Vosika added.
Vosika singled out his General Manager William Vassell as a real trooper, who has evoked some of the most meticulous management strategies to keep operations going and staff employed. “Particularly of note was during the global economic crisis between 2008-2012, but most notably is during the current pandemic, which has impacted the travel and tourism industries globally.”
The CocoLaPalm Resort also features two swimming pools and shares the length of the famed Seven Mile Negril Beach. Utilizing a European Plan (EP) concept, the hotel is quite popular with visiting guests coming from across the globe, although the main market for its guests is the United States. Vassell said they have a lot of repeat guests, with a number of persons opting to stay in the same rooms as they come back year after year.
He notes that the hotel has withstood various challenges, to include the rise of the all-inclusive resorts. Now CocoLaPalm’s management is pushing towards an even brighter future. “I remember in 1997/98 when all these major resorts were coming in. I knew we had a good product and our staff represented our brand well and that made us successful, irrespective of our size,” he remarked.
This he attributes to the exemplary service that is and has been provided by the 111 staff members at the establishment over the years. Vassell said the high level of returning guests is a testament to the level of service and care they provide. However, due to the pandemic, they too have been experiencing the negative impact on their operations.
But in stark contrast, on January 25, the United Nations International Labour Organization (UNILO) reported that more than 225 million jobs were lost globally in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, but CocoLaPalm’s management opted instead to furlough their staff during the shutdown. And now with low occupancy at the resort, staff are being rotated.
Since the borders were re-opened mid last year, CocoLaPalm Resort’s management has been implementing various strategies to keep their doors open, in spite of the ongoing uncertainties globally. However, like everyone else, they too are concerned that perennial COVID-19 virus could spell a further devastating blow to the tourism industry in general.
Vassell notes that he is carefully watching what is happening in the international markets, especially with the recent announcements surrounding quarantining for travellers entering the United States and the potential fallout for the local industry. “We just hope that we can work something out because we cannot change their policy and we cannot dictate to them what to do, but we just hope that the best decision will be made in the interest of all and people will be able to travel safely,” he explained.
“Even though the pandemic is so vicious globally, we are hoping to breakthrough this. Despite the financial impact due to the downturn, the management is more concerned about our staff who are critical to the establishment. Our goal is to be here for another 25 years,” Vassell related.
However, despite the slowdown, Vassell is grateful with the business that they have been doing so far. He explained that they are presently averaging 30% occupancy, which includes a number of locals. He explained that they have enacted strict Covid-19 protocols among staff and guests in accordance with the rules and regulations implemented by the Health Ministry. He further remarked that so far everyone has embraced the programme, which may have contributed to the high number of locals that have visited the property in recent times.
Vassell is optimistic that the tourism industry will rebound and so too will CocoLaPalm- a Seaside Resort. He is now looking forward to what the next 25 years have to offer, indicating that they hope to make further improvements to the hotel for an even greater experience for all.
GUEST COMMENTS– 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
I have stayed at Coco 6 times NOW. It has always been a great experience. The staff is great , the food is good, they will always go out our their way to help in any way they can. Gibson always keeps us safe on the beach. The grounds are always clean and well kept. I would never think of staying anywhere else in Jamaica. I have made many good friends here and will be back next year. Coco did a great job with the COVID-19 testing. Thanks for everything. J. DeCourcy, USA
I remember 25 years ago when CocoLaPalm opened! Mr. Vassell helped my family come over from another property to CocoLaPalm 25 years ago. Since that day, CocoLaPalm has been my home for my family and even friends every year. My family has grown to know the staff and loved them as family. In all my travels, CocoLaPalm is a place where it felt safe, you felt like you were family and staff were genuine. Every return, my family were welcomed with a big smile and a huge hug. CocoLaPalm was where my youngest daughter got married on the beach, my oldest daughter had her wedding cocktail party and many family /friend gatherings under the Almond Tree.
It is truly a blessing to see that my daughters are now bringing their family to the same place. Coco La Palm is a true gem of a resort that is very clean, has beautiful foliage on the grounds, nice rooms and a great bunch of staff all around – E. Rookwood, USA
So many special moments in my life have been made at CocoLaPalm. I was married there in a very elegant ceremony. Our daughters took their first vacations there, and we have made lifelong friends with many other guests and staff we have met. The entertainment and dining options at Marley’s are consistently excellent. Most days we never leave the resort because we are so relaxed and pampered. Coco is our favorite home away from home! Congratulations to CocoLaPalm on 25 years of doing it right! – R. LeTourneau, USA