Always seeing myself as being strong support for someone else’s, in my professional capacity I would internalize the targets of my managers and exceed my own goals to make theirs happen.
In my volunteerism, I would be enthused about the dream of the organization’s president and would put my entire weight behind her to make it happen. If I saw a committee losing its luster, I would lead from behind to breathe new life into their project, and let them shine.
It was the “Mother of Invention” who helped me find my entrepreneurial spirit. A second redundancy experience, and this time just 13 years short of retirement age, made me declare that whatever I do at this stage of my life I must be happy doing it. I envisioned myself sliding gracefully into retirement.
For career guidance, there was an opportunity to be seized in a parting gift from that last employer. It was a psychometric test and consultation with psychologist and ideator, Dr. Leachim Semaj of The JobBank. I embraced the opportunity and seized it with full grasp. That process led me to choose ‘Innkeeper’ as my new career. It was a no-brainer. After all, I love to entertain and my home has adequate bedroom and entertainment spaces. After a congratulatory call to my friend, designer Sandra Kennedy, on opening her Hanover home Hartley House for bed and breakfast services, I was sure this was for me too.
Neita’s Nest was conceived.
When I think back also, our cross country travels with our parents as we adventured around our island, or the opportunities we enjoyed while our Dad, Hartley, was Deputy Director of Tourism, not to mention the many friends and visiting dignitaries whom we helped him entertain at the drop of a hat; name it! They have all been brought to this table. Did I leave out my grandmother, Rose, who never tolerated slow and slouchy? Or my grandfather, Sydney, whose mantra was, “A job worth doing is worth doing well”?
As serendipity would have it, while writing the website text, my friend Alton and I had a chance chat on some historical highlights about our neighbourhood, and my home in particular. It was once the Captain’s Quarters for the British Army, and Bridgemount Heights where we are located, was one of three redoubts established in the area to defend the Stony Hill Barracks, situated a few miles north of Neita’s Nest.
Three canons, testimony to this little-known piece of history, remain mounted in the gardens of our nearest neighbour. He has kindly offered visits by special arrangement for our guests.
Neita’s Nest is indeed an Historic Bed and Breakfast.
Jamaica, with her vast and lucrative sugar plantations in the 18th century, was the jewel in the British crown and the envy of Europe. Bridgemount was a part of the Manor Park Estate, and coffee, bananas and sugar were grown here. The British, wary of possible invasion by the French who were seen sailing menacingly in the Eastern Caribbean waters, fortified Kingston at many points. Bridgemount was one such.
That story had me visiting the National Library, the University of the West Indies and the new Jamaica Defense Force Museum for further research. I even made contact with the author of the book The Fortifications of Jamaica, Professor David Buisseret, who kindly sent me a published copy of his presentation at the 2008 Elsa Goveia Memorial Lecture on that topic. The booklet is proudly a part of our library here at Neita’s Nest, and the story, which had been handed down through generations is now told on our website.
The research experience was as comforting as it was exciting. My father, a published author and renowned communications consultant had passed away only the year before. East Street in downtown Kingston is home to the 177 year old Gleaner Company.
With the website up, I set about designing business cards with the expertise of Bunny Levy and Associates. Next was furnishing the first two rooms. My friend, Norman McDonald, designed the furniture in keeping with a determination to be practical. Family and friends were extremely generous with suggestions and feedback on the finer details. Yes! The website came before the guest rooms.
Neita’s Nest was conceived and believed, before it was achieved.
The rest is now documented in website blogs and I invite you to read them It has been fun moving up the social media learning curve, attending webinars, blogging, twitting, linking, and just stepping into a whole new realm of communication.
Through strategic positioning, Neita’s Nest is marketed as comfortable, affordable lifestyle accommodation. From the feedback received, our offering meets and exceeds expectations. Our rates are considerably lower than most so we tend to offer added value rather than specials; a welcome drink for sure, whether it be a hot or cold beverage; scented candles from Starfish Oils perhaps, to complement a late night pot of tea, or a taste of local fruit in season.
Sometimes, our value-added offering comes in the form of assisting in the planning of your vacation schedule. We recommend places to stay and things to do, customizing your itinerary to match your unique interests as you travel across our beautiful island. Often times, our special treat is to invite you to join us on a visit to a family member or a friend’s place, or to have interesting company join you here for dinner; therein lie opportunities to forge new friendships. Other times, it’s a day on the beach, a trip to the movies, a drive to the country, a visit to Devon House for its infamous ice cream, or a relaxing afternoon on the grounds of the Royal Hope Botanical Gardens to be serenaded by the Jamaica Military Band. These are some of our favourite things. You can read more about them on our Neita’s Nest Recommendations page.
You see, I love to travel and would love to have done more. Instead, I focused on making my home comfortable for my family and inviting to my friends. Now, I live my life vicariously through the travels of our visitors. They tell me about their homeland while I share on the city and country I love so much. When it comes to the personal interactions with my guests, this is where I get my kick.
Having been in the financial sector for twenty-six of my working years, perhaps there are persons who feel that I have reinvented myself. Nothing is further from the fact. I was born to serve.
Entertaining brings me such joy. The smell of fresh linen napkins sets the tone every time. I love staying at hotels and, over the years, have adopted many of their best practices in running my home. At another level, and to be explored in another forum, is the knowing that there is something in sharing a home-cooked meal that is akin to expressing love.
I am neither desk-bound nor home-bound in this retirement stage of my life. With Neita’s Nest I keep moving. When I am not physically up and down at the supermarket, the hardware store or the airport, I am busy planning the meals and tours, stewing fruit, making breads and optimizing our space or décor features.
The most pleasing part is that I get to work from home, a prayer and wish that I threw out to the universe some 10 years ago.
The most heart-warming and satisfying moments come in the positive feedback from our guests, whether verbally or on our Neita’s Nest Trip Advisor page, and of course from having repeat guests.
This is too beautiful not to share!
First contributed for Mecca to Jamaica by Author - Sheri Hunter, a 2011 guest of Neita's Nest.