Roaring Pavilion


andresytesi_001For two decades I’ve written and edited marketing materials for LaCure, North America’s largest renter of luxury villa properties. They are the company that pioneered the all-inclusive concept for private villa rentals.

In the early days, I mainly wrote brochures, promotions, ads and other forms of marketing communications for their properties. Later, as their business expanded into live events – including national sales meetings, product launches and incentive trips – I wrote RFPs, promotions, event scripts, agendas, video scripts, speeches and much more for clients ranging from North America’s top pharmaceutical companies to high-tech giants, to car manufacturers.

Lately LaCure has focused squarely on its core villa business, now representing more than 2,000 properties on five continents. Their most luxurious property is Roaring Pavilion Villa & Spa, in Jamaica. The company flew me down for a weekend  so I could write about it. No one I knew was happy for me. The text I wrote was used for a brochure and a website, and has been republished and repurposed a number of times, including for online use.

Here’s the text:


Roaring Pavilion Villa & Spa

The Arrival: Discovering a thousand shades of blue

When you arrive at Montego Bay airport, your real journey begins. You are met by your own driver. He whisks you and your loved ones past the crowded busloads of tourists to a private luxury van, where you can have a cool drink from the bar as you journey along the coast.

During the drive, you feel the tensions of your other life melt away into the landscape of coconut groves and distant mountains. You find yourself smiling for no reason at all.

After you reach St. Ann’s Parish, a few minutes from Ocho Rios, you swing down a private lane to the villa courtyard, where the staff is assembled to greet you. Roy, the butler, steps forward and hands you a rum punch cocktail, a concoction of which he is the undisputed master, and says, “Welcome to Roaring Pavilion.”

From the courtyard filled with tropical plants you are drawn into the villa entranceway, its French doors flung wide open. You walk through the dining room, with its 24-foot high ceiling, irresistibly drawn to the Pavilion – a spacious room open to the world on three sides. Here you have a view of the magnificent lagoon-style pool, whose crystal waters overflow towards a panorama of the Caribbean.

As you look out to the sea, you notice the amazing colour variations – aquamarine, turquoise, navy, cerulean – that shift according to water depth, time of day, weather and your mood.

You will soon become an expert on the ocean’s thousand shades of blue.


The Fine Touches: Creating a private paradise

What immediately strikes you about Roaring Pavilion Villa & Spa is the loving attention paid to detail. The owners have gotten everything right, from the Italian limestone exterior walls to the French terra-cotta floors. From the furnishings and artwork collected around the world to the state-of-the-art entertainment centre, with plasma-screen, satellite TV, extensive movie library and stereo boasting pitch-perfect Bowers & Wilkins speakers.

Each of the four bedrooms is designed with a unique theme, and all feature air-conditioning, stereo music and ensuite bathrooms (three have whirlpool baths) complete with villa robes and exclusive Ligne St. Barth bath products.

A grand four-poster bed and louvered doors opening onto the pool area contribute to the British colonial ambience of the magnificent Mahogany Room. Hand-painted, wrought-iron finishes, 16-foot ceilings and a raised whirlpool bath that opens over a secret garden impart a feeling of serenity to the Peacock Room. The graceful lines of the rattan furnishings in the Rattan Room combine with light filtering in from the private walk-in garden shower to create one of the most enchanting spaces in the villa. The Balinese Wing, a separate enclave tucked on one side of the main building, evokes the exotic comforts of a South Asian paradise.

A state-of-the-art, air-conditioned gym is available for your fitness pleasure. Overlooking the Roaring River and lush Indonesian-style gardens, its equipment includes the best treadmills, elliptical aerobic machines, stationary bikes, free weights and more. Cool off afterwards with a drink from the gym’s juice bar.

Then pamper yourself in our celebrated indoor and outdoor spas. Done in teak, the indoor spa offers a steam room, rain shower with nine massage jets, and a complete menu of services from our full-time spa therapist. These include various types of massage, body wraps, facials, exfoliating scrubs, pedicures, manicures, and hand and foot therapy. You can also indulge in your spa treatment outdoors, surrounded by lush jungle vegetation. All spa products have been specially formulated for Roaring Pavilion by Ligne St. Barth, the famous French West Indies maker of all-natural body-care products.


The Staff: Raising service to a high art

If the physical villa is Roaring Pavilion’s body, then the staff is its spirit. As Winston, the concierge, says, “Roaring Pavilion is the most beautiful property I’ve ever seen. But our service is the most important thing here. It is the main reason that people who have stayed here want to come back. We always go that extra mile to make sure our guests are satisfied.”

With their devotion to duty and guests, the staff – which also includes a majordomo, butler, chef, housekeepers, laundress, beach attendant, gardener and spa attendant – provides a level of pampering service that has to be experienced to be believed. Their extreme sensitivity to moods and needs dictates when they interact with guests and when to fade into the background, making things happen behind the scenes. A guest, for example, who goes for a swim to the reef may emerge from the sea to find that a chaise longue and drink have appeared magically on the beach, waiting for him.

Visitors to Roaring Pavilion cite the service as the highlight of their stay. Typical of their comments is one found in the villa’s guest book: “Five-star staff. I only wish we could have brought them all home with us.”


The Cuisine: All resistance is futile

Yvonne, the Roaring Pavilion chef, is a woman of terrible power: Against her culinary excellence all resistance is futile. No matter how full you are, her skill will make you find room for that last piece of fish in creamy coconut sauce or the homemade passion fruit ice cream that finishes a feast. “I love it when I send out a dish and it comes back empty,” she says. “Then there is no question that the guest likes the food.”

Yes, Yvonne can cook light and lean. She also cooks to order, drawing from a wonderful array of fresh ingredients. But she works best when you just let her go wild. Her menus are magnificent fusions of European and Caribbean cuisine.

A Russian crab salad and a French fish soup topped with a dollop of spicy mayonnaise might be followed by a main course of Jamaican chicken slow-cooked in a sweet sauce of pickled peppers. Or a spicy island callaloo soup might precede Lobster L’Amorcaine, coated with a sensuous wine sauce.

During meals, Roy, the butler, oversees the arrival of each course, timing it perfectly with the tempo of the meal and the mood of the diners. He also keeps glasses discreetly filled with crisp whites or rich reds taken from Roaring Pavilion’s selection of French wines.

As Roy carries your empty plates back to the kitchen, he knows that he will see Yvonne smile.


The Rapture: Feed the senses, free the spirit

The hallmark of a truly great getaway is that it provides exactly the right conditions to still the insistent demands of mind and body, so the spirit can soar free. At Roaring Pavilion, moments of rapture will come on you unawares.

It might happen as you receive a massage in the spa, the gentle sounds of the villa’s river lulling you into a state of contentment. Or it might be the ecstasy you feel as you return to the embrace of Roaring Pavilion after an outing where you swim with dolphins or play golf at a championship course.

The moment of joy can come to you during an ordinary transaction. You might be sunning yourself outside your room when Rankin, the gardener, approaches. He has a “jelly” (green coconut) in his hands. He remembers that you said you had never tasted one, so has picked the coconut from a tree that he had planted himself.

With a few deft strokes of a machete, Rankin beheads the jelly, explaining that its water has unique health properties. As you drink, you fill with a sweetness that comes straight from paradise. Rankin tells you, “It’s the only water that touches the heart.”