BOUTIQUE LUXURY IN A HISTORIC SETTING
by Barbara Blake Hannah for Ja GLEANER HOSPITALITY JAMAICA
“If you’re leaving home to sleep over, you should be staying somewhere better than home,” says Michele Hussey, grand dame of the Terra Nova Hotel. Built in 1924 as the home of a wealthy Jamaican and converted to a hotel in 1959, the historic Terra Nova is now owned and managed by the Hussey family, who take pride in the fact that the hotel’s 47 suites offer the luxurious standard of grand hotels around the world.
Suites have elaborate bed décor and gold-trimmed furnishings, Eqyptian cotton linens, smart-TVs that enable internet connection, rain showers, cedar-lined closets and the over-the-bed light switches, among the many special features.
Guests will notice small touches such as Moulton Brown bathroom toiletries, TV remotes sanitized and plastic-wrapped, safety boxes that can hold laptops, computer desk and wifi connection, terry-cloth robes and shower slippers, that make it easy to understand why the guest books contain signatures of titled persons and athletics superstars who prefer privacy. “These details are what makes us stand out from the others,” says Michele Hussey, who keeps up to date on the special features luxury hotels around the world offer guests so as to interpret them in the Terra Nova.
Décor and Food Designer Ardelle della Costa, responsible for the hotel’s look and updates, says “The Terra Nova is interpreting the old features to make them more contemporary for the younger generation.” These features include maintaining the opulent olde-world décor of the gilded and award-winning Regency Restaurant, under whose crystal chandeliers many marriage proposals have been made, yet transforming a lobby space into the Regency Bar, a popular nightly oasis for in-house guests and locals enjoying a night out.
Food has always played a major part in the high reputation of the Terra Nova, winning annual food awards for both cuisine and ambience. Presentation always wins high marks and service is white glove at times. Terra Nova prides itself on offering the finest wines to accompany fine dining, with a large wine bar taking pride of place in the Regency Bar, where one can also dine on a light or full meal day or night.
There are beautiful exterior features of the Terra Nova, such as the small gallery of Kapo sculptures and photo-art featuring plants from the hotel’s flowering gardens, the lobby’s antique furniture, the swimming pool and adjoining gym, and especially the Terra Nova grand piano tinkling through the evening’s dinner hours.
Add to these a Patisserie offering pastries and chocolates made in-house and the now-famous Sunday Brunch where a long buffet of a variety of salads, pasta, meats, seafood, vegetables and pastries attracts a full house each week of Jamaican families, it is clear why the Terra Nova earns its reputation as a hotel with a regal Jamaican difference.
First published August 20, 2014 Jamaica GLEANER HOSPITALITY JAMAICA