$1B Renovation for Appleton Estate Rum Tour

Photo: Garwin Davis Jamaican architect, Clifton Yap.

Story Highlights

  • Having created the design for the popular Appleton Estate Rum Tour some 28 years ago, famed local architect Clifton Yap has again been commissioned to transform the facility into Jamaica’s number-one attraction.
  • The facility, located in Siloah, St. Elizabeth, and which is currently under construction, is on target to be completed by November 2017 and expected to bring in in excess of 100,000 visitors annually.
  • Mr. Yap said he has every confidence that the finished product will not only be well received, but will also be the centrepiece of tourism-related activities on the island’s southern coast.

Having created the design for the popular Appleton Estate Rum Tour some 28 years ago, famed local architect Clifton Yap has again been commissioned to transform the facility into Jamaica’s number-one attraction.

Mr. Yap, whose Appleton design won the Jamaican Institute of Architects Governor-General Award in 1989 for Best Commercial Project, has been brought back by owners, J. Wray & Nephew Limited, to oversee the $1-billion renovation and upgrade of the facility’s visitor centre.

The facility, located in Siloah, St. Elizabeth, and which is currently under construction, is on target to be completed by November 2017 and expected to bring in in excess of 100,000 visitors annually.

It is also central to the Ministry of Tourism’s plan to tap into the US$23.7 billion that American travellers alone spend on gastro-tourism annually.

“We have been carefully studying the growing appeal of gastronomy worldwide, and we see this investment as very central to what we are trying to achieve,” Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, tells JIS News.

“As I have mentioned before, the Appleton Estate Rum Tour is going to be the biggest part of our gastronomy arrangement for the south coast,” he adds.

Mr. Bartlett says he is particularly thrilled that a homegrown architect with such a legendary track record as Mr. Yap was chosen to do the design for the $1-billion upgrade.

“For me, that is also a big deal. Everyone knows how I feel about putting our people to work on the important projects. This is what I mean when I talk about tourism’s inclusiveness,” he further states.

For J. Wray & Nephew Limited Chairman, Clement Lawrence, the investment is very significant for Jamaica.

“An important and non-negotiable element of this renovation project is for the redesigned rum tour to maintain an aesthetic that is authentically Jamaican and a true reflection of the Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum brand,” he explains.

Mr. Lawrence further notes that it was the memory of 1989 coupled with Yap’s amazingly impressive body of work that made the reunion possible.

“Also, it is this desire for authenticity that led us to collaborate with a local designer, and not just any designer, but the one who had designed the original Appleton Estate Rum Tour,” Mr. Lawrence adds.

“We are excited about the vision that Mr. Yap brings, and we know that his creativity and expertise will help to bring to life this world-class tourist attraction, right here in the heart of Jamaica. We know that our visitors will be pleased with the enhanced experience at the Appleton Estate Rum Tour, and will also appreciate that the heritage and spirit of the tour is still intact,” he states.

For his part, Mr. Yap said he has every confidence that the finished product will not only be well received, but will also be the centrepiece of tourism-related activities on the island’s southern coast.

“The $1-billion investment not only demonstrates the confidence which J. Wray & Nephew and its parent company, Gruppo-Campari, have in Jamaica, but will be solidly looked at as money well spent,” he argues.

“My relationship with Appleton began in the late 1980s when they called me in to discuss the renovation of a space in their factory compound where they had been accommodating tourists who were going there by train to tour the factory.”

He explained that as an architect, he is also part of a team of consultants, which includes engineers, a quantity surveyor and a project manager.

“Since the start of construction, we have been having regular site meetings and inspections every two weeks, and in-between. We have to be available to clarify any information which the contractor needs,” Yap further points out.

The work, he outlines, includes the renovation of the existing property and surrounding landscape; the addition of modern rooms to facilitate the tasting of rum; an expansive retail store; and a restaurant and lounge, offering Appleton-infused Jamaican cuisine.

“The centerpieces of the restaurant will be an authentic Jamaican jerk pit,” he says, adding that “there will also be an impressive state-of-the-art bar, featuring both classic and modern rum cocktails.”

Mr. Yap further recounts that when he was called in to renovate the existing space on the factory compound, it was his suggestion to remove the facility from the factory compound itself and place it by the train line on the adjoining playfield, where the first facility was built.

“The original project won the award for best commercial project and the Appleton tour experience by train became a special feature,” he notes.

Mr. Yap further states that the renovated Appleton Estate Rum Tour will provide additional employment opportunities to Jamaicans living in the rural communities along the train route from Montego Bay to the Appleton Estate in the form of food, beverage and craft.

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