Thursday 18 October, 2018

Drax Hall transformation under discussion

Dancers perform at the launch of the Sugar & Rum Season on Monday night.

Dancers perform at the launch of the Sugar & Rum Season on Monday night.

A descendant of the original owners of Drax Hall in St George has expressed an interest in transforming the historic plantation into a modern attraction that capitalises on Barbados' rich history steeped in sugar and rum.

Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy, divulged that he recently had a courtesy call from Richard Drax, who Sealy described as “the great-great-grandson of the original Drax who started Drax Hall in St George”, which is the oldest remaining Jacobean mansion in the Western Hemisphere.

According to Sealy, Drax has expressed interest in developing the still-active Drax Hall plantation in a similar manner to St Nicholas Abbey, which boasts a historic Jacobean property and rum production operation.

“So we have existing ventures and we have other ventures to come on stream,” concluded Sealy. “Richard Drax will be meeting with the Barbados Tourism Product Authority officials to see how we can move that project forward.”

The announcement came on Monday evening at the launch of the 2018 Sugar and Rum Season, hosted by the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) at the Portvale Sugar Factory. Now in its second year, the four-month Sugar and Rum season starts February 2018 and will feature a range of heritage and culinary experiences including distillery and plantation tours, historic walks, cooking classes and more.

2018 Sugar & Rum Season launch

CEO of the Barbados Product Authority, Dr Kerry Hall, said the Sugar and Rum Season was conceptualized to “diversify and differentiate the Barbadian tourism industry, increase visitor spend, enhance on-island experiences and, most importantly, involve a broader cross-section of local businesses, entrepreneurs and members of civil society in the tourism process so that they too could benefit from the prosperity that tourism brings.”

Dr Hall emphasised that the story of Barbados is a “fascinating, rich and compelling” one that the world would be interested in hearing.

She noted that the length of the season has doubled to four months compared to the two months of the debut year in 2017 and promised that the schedule has been packed with events. The BTPA’s ultimate vision is to develop the Sugar and Rum Season into a signature event on the tourism calendar which will serve as a pull factor for potential visitors.

Monday night's launch gave just a taste of what is to come. The Portvale Sugar Factory served as the backdrop to the evening's proceedings which included drumming, dancing and dramatisations, as well as vocal performances by the Marlon Legall Voice Project and 2 Mile Hill. Guests mingle by the rum shop or get rum on tap at a specially made standpipe, while sampling local delicacies such as cassava pone.