Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Great Huts takes holistic approach to COVID-19

Published:Friday | April 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer

The coronavirus scare and all the precautions that it has engendered have hit the Jamaica tourist industry with a sledgehammer, causing some resorts to close their gates, while others have been forced to scale down their operations, adjusting their programmes until such time.

Adjustment means finding innovative ways to carry on with a skeleton staff and the few guests who might be in the house. Great Huts Resort Paradise on the Edge, nestled at Boston Bay in Portland, is one of the small resorts using innovative ways to keep their operations going.

Great Huts will be presenting ‘Immune Building’ Ashanti Yin Yoga sessions with certified yoga instructor Clo Sterling, to be followed by the ‘Raw Truth Live Foods Workshop with Afia Walking Tree live on Great Huts’ Facebook page from noon to 1 p.m. every Sunday in April. And if needs be, will be extended to May.

“You are what you absorb. We are now designing programmes and offerings with the expertise of Jamaican healers to evolve our product and truly help Jamaicans build a healthier lifestyle. This requires commitment and consistency,” Vivene Levison, a former nutritional consultant with Nutrition House Canada, and general manager at Great Huts, told Living.


In addition, team members are now learning more about taking charge of their health and enjoying exercise sessions on the cliffside yoga deck, drinking ‘live juices’ and eating more healthy staff meals. Herbs will be planted on the property, and there will be workshops “to help guests learn and heal”, Levison said.

Many menus discussed in the online sessions can be done at home, and a new vegan menu, including live juices, will be available when the resort reopens. “We have become an even better team and embrace gratitude for being where we are, at the eastern tip of beautiful Portland,” Levison added. “This is truly Paradise on the Edge.”

All of Great Huts’ arts programmes, including its new yoga and wellness programme, are in place to drive awareness and assist the homeless in Port Antonio, Levison also said. The arts programmes continue to assist the plans for expansion of the facility and increase its ability to help homeless people in the parish.

This one-of-a-kind Afrocentric village resort is also the parent body of the Portland Rehabilitation Homeless Shelter. And according to the Travel Channel, “the small beachfront eco-resort set in forested landscape 100 feet above Boston Bay is the Most Unique Resort Experience in Jamaica”.

The resort houses volunteers who work at the shelter, whose day-to-day operations are overseen by Amanda Thompson, nurse administrator. Dr Paul Rhodes, founder of the shelter, remains its chair and medical director. And with people reeling under the stress of the possibility of contracting the virus, Great Huts said it must continue its outreach work and is taking this opportunity to strengthen its partnerships with community leaders and the Portland Municipal Corporation.

“We remain committed to bring these unique experiences forward and using this time of pause to plan well, as nourishing our island’s creativity has become even more important in light of COVID-19. Our youths, in particular, who are now even more exposed to anything Internet has to offer, are in dire need of good-quality media, mentorship and opportunities to discover talents they never knew they had,” said Levison, who is also chair of the Portie Film Festival.