Food Industry

Avra Jain, Cindy Hutson Team Up for the Cliff in Jamaica

Avra Jain's Vagabond Group is expanding its paradise portfolio — although this piece is far removed from Miami.

Jain and the Vagabond Group have announced they are partnering with Jamaican hospitality veteran Mary Phillips and Ortanique on the Mile's Cindy Hutson, as well as Delius Shirley on a new project in Negril, Jamaica. The property is presently undergoing renovation and will open in November 2015 as the Cliff Hotel & Spa. This news comes on the heels of the announcement of Jain's group purchasing the historic Miami River Inn for $8.6 million. Jain is, of course, best known for her restoration of the Vagabond Hotel in Miami's MiMo District. 

Jain's team has purchased a five-acre property in Negril, formerly known as Moon Dance Resort. The seaside property will feature 33 guest rooms, including four villas — each having a distinct theme. The property will also offer a spa facility with treatment rooms built directly on the resort town's famous cliffs. Spa pampering will share space with traditional Jamaican healing remedies. 

Jain has tapped Ortanique's Cindy Hutson and Delius Shirley to head the food and beverage operations of the resort. The restaurant at the Cliff will feature Cindy Hutson's "cuisine of the sun." This is a fitting homecoming for Hutson and Shirley, since Shirley's mother was legendary Jamaican chef Norma Shirley. Dubbed the "Julia Child of the Caribbean," Norma Shirley owned several restaurants in Jamaica and was awarded the Jamaican Prime Minister’s Award for Culinary Excellence in 2003. Rounding out the team is Suzan McDowell, who has been tapped to handle brand creation and website development for the new resort.

Jain tells New Times that "the Jamaican property is stunning, and I know the food and beverage will be an important part of the Cliff experience. I would also add that working with Delius and Cindy on this venture has been too much fun!"

Mary Phillips, a tourism executive with experience in both Miami and Jamaica, will serve as managing director of the hotel. Most recently, Phillips was GM at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, and served as general manager of South Beach's Albion Hotel from 1996-1997. According to Jain, Phillips, a longtime friend of Cindy Hutson and Delius Shirley, brought the developer to the project and made the all-around introductions to form this unique team. 

With flights to Jamaica clocking in at less than two hours, Miami residents might just have found a new weekend getaway spot to escape the winter tourism madness.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss