ST. JAMES, JAMAICA— The Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall earned AAA’s five diamond status— after only one year of operation— making it the only hotel in Jamaica’s history to hold the honor. Set along a stretch of beach on Jamaicas north coast, The Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, Jamaica, combines Old World appeal with a sense of Caribbean warmth. Being a popular vacation destination, Jamaica is known for its luxury resorts, but what General Manager Doug Brooks feels sets the Ritz-Carlton apart from the competition is its staff. “There are a lot of great hotels down here, but what I think makes us special is our ladies and gentleman. These employees really want our guests to leave Jamaica as impressed with the island as they are,” said Brooks. After interviewing nearly 25,000 candidates, the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall selected 1,000 people to operate its 427 rooms, with each employee integrating Ritz-Carlton’s training and human resource practices into every workday. “Everyday we start with a training line up where we go over the 20 basics, or core principles, of the company. For example, today we covered Basic 11, which states that the level of cleanliness is the responsibility of every employee,” he said. Another feature that sets the hotel apart from the pack is its well-known golf course. Nestled in the 4,000-acre Rose Hall Plantation, amidst the mountains of Jamaica, the White Witch Golf Course offers 18-holes of golf with caddies trained as hotel concierges. “We put a twist in the caddy program. We call them on-course golf concierges. We figure if an employee is going to be with a guest for four or five hours we want that employee to be exceptional,” said Brooks. He said the hotel selected several “talented young employees,” and trained them on how to be a concierge, and taught them how to perform those duties on a golf course. “These kids can make dinner reservations from the golf course, read a put, or order flowers for a guest’s wife because he’s been playing golf all day,” Brooks stated. “They’re traditional concierges that know golf.” Set on 600 acres of green, the White Witch golf course is also known for its haunted history. The course is named after Annee Palmer, the notorious White Witch of the 19th Century who is said to have “done away” with her three husbands. “The course raps around valleys and mountains and some parts are 100 feet above sea level and others are 1,00 feet above sea level…It has a lot of great views,” said Brooks. He noted that while Jamaica’s travel industry was hit hard after Sept. 11, he expects business to still be up next year. “Jamaica’s [travel industry]grew during the Gulf War when other destinations were flat or down. It’s a great island and an easy destination to get to,” he added.