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More than just a hotel, Jakes is a chapter in the story of this wildly talented Jamaican clan. Here, Sally Henzell tells it like it is.

nce Upon a Time, back in the ‘40s, when I was born, Joyce and Basil, my English parents who had “found” Jamaica and decided to live here, happened upon Treasure Beach. In those days, the drive from Mandeville, in the hills, gradually degraded from asphalt to dirt and then to sand.

At the end of the road, they found a huge wide beach where the only other occupants were the fishermen with their cotton-tree canoes and their canvas sails. Here, they decided, was to be our beach cottage, Treasure Cot.

Daddy worked with local talent and up went the dearest little two-bedroom house. The houses around were built of Spanish wall gayly painted with fretwork decorations. Mostly these houses were two or four rooms with an outside kitchen and privy. Ours was maybe the first house in the village to be built with cement blocks.

So, here we came, the four of us—my parents, my sister, June Gay and me—leaving the cool mountain air for warm sea breezes. Mummy unplugged her sewing machine and put back the windup handle and continued sewing, making clothes for all of us with her Butterick patterns. And whilst Daddy, ever the handy man, sawed and nailed and potted and glued, Mummy planted flowers and threw stones at marauding goats. The beach was our bailiwick. We swam and snorkeled and fished and shot the waves with our very own little cotton tree surfboards. We played in the sand dunes with our newfound friends but they were never allowed in the sea.

In the evenings the Home Sweet Home lamps were lit and the one bright Tilley lamp pumped up, much to the marvel of us all, then Daddy would light his pipe and take out his guitar or ukulele, gradually joined by maracas, kalimba box and goatskin drums—for music is a thing that can’t be hid, and so the evenings were whiled away under the stars.

That’s Sally’s take on her story. But just as interesting is what people have to say about Sally, and all that she’s accomplished in her South Coast paradise that she’s shared with so many, over the years. Here’s some reading you can’t help but enjoy: caribbeanbeat.com, coastalliving.com, reallife.ky, theAustralian.com, life.spectator.com.

Jason Henzell, Chairman of Jakes Hotel, interviewed about Jakes and sustainable community development in Treasure Beach.

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