Believe it or not, I’m actually a hotel snob. Despite the fact that I usually try to save by staying at Airbnb homes or hostels, I’m a sucker for chic decor, plush bathrobes, turn-down service and all the amenities that come with a luxury experience. But the way my bank account is set up….yeah. Doesn’t happen often.
However, birthdays are one of the times I allow myself to splurge. So after a few days at the big Dream party weekend in Negril, I checked in at Rockhouse Hotel which sits atop the infamous cliffs on the west coast of the island. With 2 restaurants, 3 bars, a spa, and jerk chicken on speed dial, I had zero reasons to leave the property. But my plans changed after I attended a welcome social and the folks from Rockhouse Foundation invited us all out to a local school that they had renovated. They showed this video, I fell in love with all the babies, and I knew I had to see everything for myself the following morning.
The fact that they painted their vision statement on the building exterior was pretty awesome. Words are powerful, and more than anything it’s a daily reminder that the labor, struggles and setbacks they experience are all for the purpose of giving these kids their best chance at life.
The entire second floor had been added during the renovations, including this computer lab where the kids use Success Maker software to improve their math and reading skills.
Real talk, I stared at this screen a little too long like wait…*scratches head* *squints*
At the heart of the renovations were some basic needs like new bathrooms with real plumbing, and clean water for drinking, neither of which the kids had. Just goes to show you how simple resources for some can be a luxury for others.
They now serve hot food at the school, which is an incentive for the kids to attend, since many would not get that at home. I’m pretty sure the cook saw me lusting after that big pot of curry chicken in the kitchen, because she offered me a to-go plate (my greed has no shame!). Needless to say, I accepted their offer, and fully approve of this lunch situation.
In the back of the school there’s a garden where the kids help the staff grow fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit. As a former Montessori student, I love that they’re able to learn about science by actually working with it in real life.
Before we left, I met the school Principal who was really sweet, and seems very dedicated to these kids. And while the Foundation completed their renovations a few years ago, there seems to be an ongoing relationship between them and the administrators that transcends building materials and resources and is truly about the welfare of this community.
I spent the next 2 days back at the resort, but this short visit to Little Bay School was by far the most rewarding part of my stay. It was heartwarming to know that a hotel that could easily pocket all of their profits, is using their resources to benefit the community around them. And it’s more than just cutting a charity check which many businesses do tax for write-offs. The folks I met from Rockhouse Foundation seem genuinely committed to these schools, with a vested interest in truly making a difference in the lives of these children.
I’ll definitely be back. Not just because the hotel is amazing (more on that later), but because I know at least some of the money I’m spending is going towards a great cause. This project has definitely encouraged me to find more opportunities to give back while I’m traveling, and my hope is that in sharing my experience that other people will consider charity projects on their own trips. Tourism brings so much money to large companies around the world. The least we can do is share some of that wealth where it really counts.
For more information on Rockhouse Foundation and their initiatives visit:
For ways to support their renovation programs visit:
(you can even donate via your Amazon purchases!)