Nestled in the heart of Jamaica’s capital city rises a modern glass and steel edifice that tells a story of a new era. This is AC Hotel by Marriott Kingston. Named the Caribbean’s Leading New Hotel at the 2020 World Travel Awards, the hotel is not only the island nation’s first AC Hotel but, notably, Sandals Resorts International’s first venture outside their own brand of all-inclusive resorts. Sandals’ investment, and involvement, speaks to the significance and meaning of the kind of hospitality for which Jamaicans are so renowned.
Home to not only the seat of government, Kingston is Jamaica’s central economic hub. “My family and I are determined to play our part in building the economy in the Caribbean,” Sandals deputy chairman Adam Stewart said about this project. “Kingston is quickly becoming a starting point for visitors who want to discover Jamaica beyond its beaches. From our rich musical tradition that begins here to the wonders of the Blue Mountains – a UNESCO world heritage site that just happens to produce the world’s best coffee, travelers will find much to capture their imagination here.”
The soul of Jamaica – its colors, textures, and rhythms – is evident in every aspect of the design. The 220-room property takes its architectural inspiration from the surrounding Blue Mountains. The distinctive balconies protruding from the façade are reminiscent of the puffy clouds that bisect the range on sunny Jamaican afternoons. Stepping onto the property feels like a resort oasis amongst Kingston’s urban hustle-and-bustle; a purposeful tactic to create a truly immersive guest experience.
Inside the seven-story, 148,000-square-foot hotel, guests are treated to a curated collection of Jamaican art and furnishings, reflecting the essence of AC Hotels’ gallery-style brand. As part of the design process, our team worked with a local art curator to obtain a truly authentic representation of Jamaica’s people and day-to-day life. The intent of the one-of-a-kind assemblage is to provide guests a deeper connection to the spirit of Jamaica – its people, heritage, and culture. Most pieces were commissioned for the hotel and the exhibit offers a reflection on Jamaica’s innate diversity. A purposeful mixture of sculpture, mixed-media, wood carvings, oil on canvas, and more are meant to spark conversation around issues of humanity we all face. An expansive meeting space for 600 – aptly named Rock Steady – and the adjoining small meeting areas are host to various events, serving as a connection point for the community.
Since opening its doors last year, the hotel has become a sought-after gathering spot for locals and business travelers alike. Only the second AC property in the Caribbean (the first is the Baskervill-designed AC Hotel San Juan Condado), the success of this vision is a testament to the power of a design that celebrates heritage in a modern, experience-centric way.