On a typical workday at the all-inclusive, family-friendly Beaches Negril resort, Maxine Hamilton-Whyte and Neiko Hamilton-Tucker can be seen enjoying each other’s company while on their break. Those who don’t know them may think they’re just good friends, but the reality is even better. They’re mother and son.
“It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s like we’re never apart; and we have never been apart, really. If I want to see him, I can just walk over to his department. If he wants to see me, he can walk over to my department. I can keep my eyes on him. I can always know where he is, what he is doing,” Whyte said.
Tucker enjoys the camaraderie with his mom but also knows he has to be on his best behaviour at all times.
“Because of the way how we act with each other no one will think that she is my mother. But if I get out of place, the mother part will come out,” he assured LetsTravelCaribbean.com during a recent visit to the property.
Work, he added, is the place where he sees his mother most. Over the years, they have both become an integral part of Beaches Negril and the wider Sandals Resorts International family.
Whyte is a massage therapist at the resort’s spa, while Tucker works as a concierge.
“I migrated from St Thomas in 2010 to assist my sister with a small business that she was doing. It was a restaurant and it failed shortly after, and I didn’t want to go back to St Thomas. I started looking for jobs, so I went to Sandals Negril and applied for the Hospitality Training Programme (HTP). I got through. I did my six weeks of HTP in housekeeping, and I got employed in 2012,” she said.
“I worked as a housekeeper at Sandals from 2012 to 2016. During that time, I went to the Sandals Corporate University (SCU) to do my massage therapist training. I was successful, I became a therapist and I transferred from Sandals to Beaches Negril spa,” she continued.
The HTP is a six-week training session available to prospective employees in any area of their choosing. At the end of the programme, participants get referral letters that are recognised across the tourism sector. Meanwhile, SCU provides higher education where employees receive certification.
Whyte views the experience of working and being trained at Beaches Negril as a gift that keeps on giving.
“In St Thomas I had never been in a tourism environment. I’ve never seen so many tourists in my life before I came to Negril, so I wasn’t used to interacting with tourists. The training for me was [an opportunity for personal] development,” she said.
Her son Tucker entered the industry five years after Whyte did. He began working at the Grand Pineapple in 2017 before he switched over to Beaches that same year. He has also benefitted from valuable training.
“I started HTP at Grand Pineapple bar in April 2017 then I came up here [Beaches] in weddings. I did about seven months in weddings before I became a concierge,” he said.
He initially had his sights set on working in the resort’s bar, but because there were no vacancies he ended up in his current role. Though he still likes the idea of working in the bar, becoming a concierge is a move he doesn’t regret as he experiences personal growth every day, he said.
“I’m surprised I turned out this good in interacting with tourists because it’s something that I wasn’t used to. I was a star when I was training for six weeks at Grand Pineapple in [the] bar,” Tucker said.
He is convinced that the frequent positive reviews he received on TripAdvisor helped him land the job at Beaches Negril.
Though the mother and son duo have both been trailblazers in their respective departments, neither has the intention of staying in their current posts.
Having earned her certificate in massage therapy, Whyte would now like to move on to training others.
“I don’t see myself stopping here; I see my career growing even further. There is a lot of room to grow in this company. There’s a lot of space where you can expand and make yourself a better person. I want to be a trainer and that’s my goal that I’m working towards, and I want to work at Whitehouse on the south coast,” she said.
Tucker said his experience working as a concierge has been great, but he also wants to continue growing. He has his sights set on becoming a butler.
“It’s really good so far but I see where I can make a step up. I know I’m going to grow so it’s just [a matter] of time. The only person who can hold you back at this company is you,” he said.
For now, the mother and son continue to support each other as they inch closer to even greater things.
“I enjoy working with my son here at Beaches and I hope he grasps every opportunity he gets to grow and to achieve his goals,” Whyte told LetsTravelCaribbean.com.
Tucker was just as vocal in his support for his mom.
“She said she wants to be a trainer and trust me anything she sets out to get, she will get it. I’m looking forward to seeing that and I know she’s looking forward to seeing me [do well] also. She knows I’m going to get it because she knows where we’re coming from. The only way from here is up,” he said.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY DAINA DAVY