Saturday, April 17, 2010

Going Green in Jamaica

What I failed to mention was that John Behmiller, owner of the Playboy Pad (see entry, April 13, 2010), had a penchant for peculiar things. Behmiller owned a collection of shrunken heads from Africa. He also owned a phython which, when it died, he had stuffed; the stuffed remains hid among the tropical forest inside his home, to his visitor's surprise.

Despite his peculiarties, Behmiller expanded Don's world beyond the U.S. and introduced Don to Jamaica. Behmiller sold "The Rock House," a few thatched cottages to Don and four other investors, a private and primative retreat on the West End Road of Negril. Don designed and built more cottages with one of his apprentices, Charles, residing in Jamaicia and supervising the construction of the huts. Today, The Rock House features a spa among other amenities, and while less primative, it remains a favorite of visitors to Negril.

Pictured is one of the "rock houses" circa 1970:

Social by nature, Don met other investors native to Jamaica, one of whom commissioned the development of Coconut Cove Hotel.

The Jamaican government "had developed plans for [the east end of Negril] for strict rules against for high-rise buildings and in keeping in tune with the environment. Now, the east end has sprouted...the handsomely landscaped, apartment-style Coconut Cove Hotel, designed for privacy, offering sea or pool swimming, tennis and horse-back riding." "Negril Jamaica's Tranquil Hideaway," The Independent Journal, March 17, 1977.

Sometime in the late 1970's, Don flew to Jamaicia to accept an award from the Prime Minister. It appears that Coconut Cove Hotel is now owned by Sandal's hotel chain, as evidenced below:

"Amidst a pristine tropical setting, this world-class beachfront resort combines the laid-back atmosphere with refined elegance. Spanning the longest and best stretch of Jamaica's famous seven-mile beach, this is the only hotel in Negril to have won the coveted Green Globe Award, emblematic of its environmentally friendly ambiance. Where even the architecture has been designed to be lower than the highest palm trees. At Sandals Negril, kicking back and doing nothing is considered a native art form...and doing everything is 'no problem.' Discover why Sandals Negril is perfect...for an ocean of reasons."

It seems that Don's designs attracted many hotel owners from executives of the Hyatt Hotel, to the Hilton, to Sandals...

Please contact me, or provide comments on this page, if you would like to submit information that you may have on the work and/or its history. And, if you would like to contribute to championing the preservation of the Don Erickson Legacy, please email me at the address posted under my profile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was 1980 staying at coconut cove Hotel. It was paradise. Actually before it turnt to sandals Hotel. It is a pity how coconut cove has changed. Most of the beautiful coconut Palm trees were cut. It was so wonderful with all the palmtrees and flowers. The nature was so great when it was coconut cove Hotel. very Special. After turning to sandals a lot of the beautiful paradise nature has been cut and the Robinson Crusoe Feeling has gone. Sandals Hotel is now like a typical U.S. American Hotel. The natural Feeling that it created before has gone. Now it is painted in different colours and the design is not naturly again for all since a lot of trees and flowers has been cut off. The Hotel nowadays reminds somebody of Las Vegas or Orlando. The natural paradise Feeling is gone. it is a pity.