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Overwater bar venture coming for Montego Bay

A start-up venture called Offshore Oasis Limited wants to construct and operate an overwater bar attraction that will target business from tourists as well as locals.

It’s awaiting approval from the National Environment & Planning Agency, which in turn awaits a public consultation with residents of Montego Bay, where the attraction is to be located.

Offshore Oasis describes the business as a “platformed bar attraction”.

Jamaica reportedly boasts over 11,000 registered bars, but only a handful are on water.

The project has been quietly navigating through regulatory approvals from before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The environmental impact assessment report for the project posted online last week by NEPA, did disclose the timeline for the development nor its expected cost.

However, the people behind the venture say they have struck an agreement with large hotel Iberostar, whose guests are among the targeted market.

No comments were forthcoming from Troy King and Nigel Knowles, both of Montego Bay addresses, who are listed as the directors and equal preference shareholders in the company. The single holder of the company’s ordinary shares was listed in Companies Office of Jamaica records as Maurice Grannum of Kingston.

Jamaica already hosts a few other notable overwater bars, but most are on floating vessels rather than embedded structures in the sea, as Offshore Oasis is proposing. The existing ones include Floyd’s Pelican Bar, offshore St Elizabeth, which appears to have embedded structures in the floor; the Houseboat Grill, a floating two-storey restaurant in St James, and Tiki Pon Da Sea, a bar built atop three canoes in Negril. These floating structures have garnered considerable attention and rave reviews over the years.

The proposed Offshore Oasis bar plans to operate daily for 10 to 16 hours each day. Access will be facilitated through boat services, with an extension jetty for transfers to the site.

“[It] will be serviced by way of boat access from the adjoining Iberostar Hotel area, arrangements for which have been agreed to by way of a written agreement between Offshore Oasis Limited and Iberostar Resorts,” the environmental report noted.

“Additionally, it is anticipated that fishers from a fishing beach adjoining the Iberostar Resort to the east may capitalise on the opportunity to transport clients external to the Iberostar Resort to the site.”

The report, done by Peter Wilson-Kelly & Associates for Offshore Oasis added, however, that the local Grange Pen Fishers Co-operative, while receptive to providing water taxi services, would need to meet training and regulatory requirements.

The bar will span about 225 square metres and lie about 800 metres from the mainland, according to the 175-page document prepared by Peter Wilson-Kelly & Associates on behalf of the developers, Offshore Oasis. The bar will also have an overall elevation of 6.4 metres, but also have a lower deck at 2.0 metres elevated above the waterline.

“The bar will not be promoted as a location for swimming and snorkelling, as no changing or showering facilities will be provided, nor will beach licences be applied for to facilitate the use of the adjoining sea area for swimming,” the report stated.

To construct the bar, reinforced concrete piles will be driven into the seafloor at the site, after which a wooden superstructure will be built over the piles to support a wooden deck.

“The bar building will then be built on top of the deck,” stated the document.

The daily throughput of the venue, which includes the bar and deck, will be up to 625 persons, but will only accommodate a maximum of 125 persons at any given time.

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