While the coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought much of the tourism sector to a screeching halt, owner of the Double V Multi-Purpose Complex in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Colin Mills, remains undeterred in going forward with expansion plans.
Mr. Mills, who gave JIS News a recent tour of his property, said he has every confidence that tourism will make a triumphant return and that he did not want to be caught napping in terms of preparedness.
While admitting that he, “like everybody else”, has been facing the biggest challenge of his life in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Mills says he is willing to pump millions of dollars in upgrading the tourism side of his complex, creating an attraction for the ages.
“I didn’t get to where I am today by being timid. I am not going to sit here and wait for hotels to come on stream before I do something. I know of work to be restarted on hotels. We have been told that foreign investors are still interested in continuing with plans to erect thousands of hotel rooms in St. Ann and neighbouring communities. I am willing to take my chances in doing all my infrastructural work and upgrade now… pandemic or no pandemic,” he says.
Mr. Mills’ Double V, a landmark in the resort town of Ocho Rios, has been in operation now for 52 years, with the jerk centre being one of the oldest in the country. It currently has a picturesque poolside ambience, lounge chairs and a nature walk for visitors.
A former Councillor for the Ocho Rios Division, he was part of the Ocho Rios development plan, which was spearheaded by the late Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Edward Seaga in the 1980s.
“A lot of businesses have come and gone, but we are still here. We used to have up to 3,000 tourists passing through Double V on a weekly basis back in the good old days,” he notes.
“Ours was the best jerk anywhere in St. Ann and visitors couldn’t get enough of us. Even when the bypass road was built, we still managed to hold our own and was rewarded for our quality and consistency,” he adds.
Mr. Mills says the new expansion plan is to create an eating area in the nature walk leg of the tour, in addition to having a fishing area where guests can take their fresh catch and have it prepared for consumption by the kitchen staff.
He points out that as a part of the resilient corridor, his business is Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) compliant, and will continue to follow health and safety guidelines mandated by the Ministry of Health.
For his part, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, one of the Caribbean’s biggest attractions, Marc Melville, a St. Ann native, said he was familiar with Double V as a boy growing up, calling it historic and a business that holds pride of place in the hearts of the people of Ocho Rios.
“If you are not familiar with Ocho Rios and want to meet someone at a familiar location, then look no further than Double V. My entire family has been visiting this location for years and Mr. Colin Mills has been one of the greatest hosts you can find,” he says.