The dining experience for anyone transiting Jamaica’s largest tourist gateway, the Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay, is being touted to become an unforgettable one with the pending opening of the world’s first Bob Marley-branded restaurant, dubbed ‘Bob Marley – One Love’.
An elated Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says travellers globally have been awaiting the opportunity of a “King of Reggae’ dining experience, which he anticipates will be “one of the biggest pull factors [ever]” for Jamaica’s tourism product.
“There might not be another Jamaican … alive or dead … as famous as Bob Marley. Few, if any, with his global stature … Hollywood Walk of Fame and all … have done more for tourism, and we are just very excited about this newest venture at the Sangster International Airport,” the minister adds.
Dubbed ‘One Love’, after Marley’s global hit song from his seminal album, ‘Exodus’, released in 1977, the restaurant is slated to open at the end of March, according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Express Catering Limited, operators of the facility, Ian Dear.
“Undoubtedly, the experience will become a huge ‘must-see’ experience at the airport. It literally will be [the] centre of the airport’s experience and the central last positive memory when leaving Jamaica,” he says.
Express Catering Limited is a listed subsidiary of Margaritaville Caribbean Group (MCG), which owns and operates a chain of Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville food, beverage, retail and entertainment outlets in the region.
Dear points out that the new central bar, along with Bob Marley One Love, will be part of the experience in visiting Jamaica.
“We have created a wonderful Jamaican sense of place by providing all the wonderful sensibilities that Jamaica is known for. We are really excited to be able to launch this new attraction and experience of Jamaica’s lasting memory,” he adds.
Dear says Express Catering is “extremely proud” to be representing Bob Marley’s legacy, adding that the late renowned musician’s family has been very supportive and is looking forward to the restaurant’s launch.
He adds that Bob Marley represents all that is great and positive about Jamaica to Jamaicans and the globe, emphasising that “we take it as a huge responsibility to represent his legacy of peace and goodwill around the world”.
“He is really and truly Jamaica’s global icon. This partnership is taken very seriously, in a very positive vibes way, that it took us 20 years to conclude a deal. This was not because we both didn’t want to do it earlier. We just wanted to make sure we did right by Bob in ensuring we had the time and focus to honour his legacy. We are very excited about our upcoming launch,” says Dear.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for MBJ Airports Limited, operator of the SIA, and the first Jamaican to hold that position, Shane Munroe, says further buildout of the dining space and experience at the facility, among other areas, has been on the cards for some time.
He says the expansion of the departures lounge and opening of Bob Marley – One Love “will now make a huge difference” aesthetically.
“This area will be a game-changing experience and I know our visitors will be loving every minute of it. In addition to the Bob Marley – One Love experience, there is a new departures lounge where passengers can await their flights in an atmosphere that is second to none,” the CEO adds.
He explains that London-based company, The Design Solution, took on the gateway’s commercial planning strategy and, together with consulting group Pragma, was instrumental in redeveloping the retail programme to bring it up to international standards.
“The Bob Marley – One Love Restaurant and experience will be a major and integral part of the transformation strategy at Sangster [Airport] to deliver a memorable and stimulating experience for passengers,” he adds.
One Love has become synonymous with Bob Marley, as he has become to Jamaica. The internationally acclaimed Time Magazine voted Exodus, by Bob Marley and The Wailers, ‘Best Album of the [20th] Century’. ‘One Love’ was selected as ‘Song of the Century’ by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
In a citation supporting its selection of Exodus, Time proclaimed: ‘Every song is a classic, from the messages of love to the anthems of revolution. But more than that, the album is a political and cultural nexus, drawing inspiration from the Third World and then giving voice to it, the world over.”
The tracks on Exodus are ‘Natural Mystic’, ‘So Much Things to Say’, ‘Guiltiness’, ‘The Heathen’, ‘Jamming’, ‘Waiting In Vain’, ‘Turn Your Lights Down Low’, ‘Three Little Birds’, and ‘One Love’.
Another reputable global magazine, Rolling Stone, in a moving obituary in 1981, following Marley’s passing, described the artiste as “one of the most influential music figures in the last 20 years”.
In February 2020, the magazine republished the singer-songwriter’s 50 greatest tracks to commemorate the 75th anniversary of his birth.