The Moneague Hotel
When the Moneague Hotel was built in 1890-1 'Fern Gully' was still the 'famous Gully Road' and in referring to the establishment of the Hotel succeeding editions of the Handbook continued to use the term 'Gully Road' into the early years of the new century. However, already in the account of the planning of the Hotel it was said to be 'in easy reach of the Fern Gully leading to Ocho Rios'.
(click on image above) 

Daily Gleaner, April 11, 1891.


   In our issue of Wednesday, we gave a final intimation, that the new hotel in St. Ann's, established by a company of local landed proprietor and others, would,  on that day, be formally thrown open, as now ready, in every way, to minister  to the wants of transient travellers, and to the comfort of more permanent boarders. We also at the same time set forth a brief description of the completed buildings, and of their situation and surroundings, in one of the most beautiful, healthy and generally accessible localities of Jamaica; viz. - the far-famed

district of "The Moneague," in the parish of St. Ann's. We now further note  the

proceedings that took place on the appointed day. It was a subject of regret

that His Excellency the Governor, having a previous engagement, to be present

with Lady Blake at the laying of the Foundation Stone of the Trelawney Girls' School, could not be present; but he had visited the building the day before, and

given his unofficial approbation to its fabric and appointments. The absence of

the Hon. M. Solomon, the Custos of St. Ann's, and the representative of that

parish in the Legislative Council, was sufficiently accounted for - although also much regretted - from the joint reasons, that he is not in strong health, but

nevertheless is in attendance on his duty to his constituents, in his place, at the Legislative Chamber in Kingston. But by 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday the 8th

instant, an influential gathering had assembled of the gentlemen of St. Ann, and

also there were present some from St. Catherine and Kingston, who had been

invited to attend on the opening day, and all were now duly met and welcomed by the Directors present, viz., Chas. Steer, Esq., Chairman, and Messrs. A Douet, A. Roxborourgh, M.A. Llewellyn,  A. A. Stewart, with A. N. Sutherland,

Esq., the vigilant and most courteous Secretary.

   Among those present were Dr. McPhail, the Revd. MeDuff, Mr. Michael Hart, Mr. French, Mr. F. Roper, Mr. S. Constantine Burke, and Mr. Gordon of

Spanish Town; representatives of the GLEANER and GALL'S NEWS LETTER

were also present, and last though not least the Hon. J. C. McGlashan, who although highly welcomed as a guest, was also there in somewhat an official

capacity, as he is the Government Commissioner, to be satisfied that the

Company has fulfilled all the initial conditions by which it can draw the bounty

of 3 per cent. guarantee on the invested capital, and therefore when other

lowland guests had to tear themselves away, Mr. McGlashan, remained over

the night for the purpose of going with the Secretary more in detail over the

books and premises - which investigation we feel assured will not end in un

mauvais quart d'heure for either of them.

   A due interval having elapsed for the arrival of belated guests, the

proceedings commenced by a tour round the buildings, and an inspection of the

general arrangements, and a visit to the upper floor, and dormitories. Two or

three of these last had already secured their occupants for the night and more

of them in advance for this or next week. The others were ready for

emergency calls in any possible number. The furniture throughout is simple but tasty. There will be when the Exhibition is over the splendid billiard table

now there; and we doubt not - for the ladies - an equally 1st class piano in the

drawing room. There is a resident matron or head stewardess - Mrs. Hewitt

 - with a staff of female domestics. All the beds are supplied with a

substratum of a wire spring mattress, and each room with water from the high pressure cistern on the roof, which is also a safeguard against the spread of fire,

the ladies and gentlemen baths on different sides of the building, are also in

like manner supplied, and the waste water runs off by underground drainage,

down the steep hillside into the hollow at the back of the out-offices. It will be

utilize[d] there in the vegetable garden, and its screening shrubberies. The tariff

of charges was explained. - This will doubtless be shortly extensively advertised,

so we will only say that it is reasonable for the equivalents offered, and also

within the means of our professional and mercantile citizens of Kingston seeking

rest and recreation, say from Saturday evening to Monday morning, for one can

leave Kingston by the last train on the former day and be back to business by

the 7.15 .a.m. train, on the latter arriving in Kingston at 9 a.m.

After the "March-round" - including for those who desired it, an ascent by the cork screw stair-

case to the roof and turret, the guests were gathered in the spacious and well-lighted dining-

room, where the tables were laid out with glittering display of plate, china and glass, and

decorated with snowy drapery and choice flowers, ferns and rare orchids, such as only Jamaica

 - well - perhaps one, or two other places in the world can produce. A sumptuous cold luncheon was then served - a-la-Russe - by the tidy expert and taciturn male waiters. The wines were of

the best and they were not too highly iced: a fault we have observed, at some more elaborate

banquets, recently held nearer Kingston ; indeed the climate at Moneague is so temperate and

equitable that will ice seldom or never be a requisite there. The altitude is about 950 feet above

sea level. The table were arranged hi the form of a T with the genial chairman, C. W. Steer,

Esqre. on the outer side of the junction point of the two right angles. Justice having been duly

done to the menu; which by the way if intended as a sample of what the Chef-de- Cuisine can

accomplish, will make the Moneague Hotel the very paradise of the Luculli of Jamaica.

Justice, we say, having been done to the more substantial viands and auxiliary pastry and

confectionery: the chairman ordered a "charge" of "Heidsick" on which was formally drank the loyal toast of "Her Majesty the Queen". The Chairman then ordered a repetition of the

charge in honor of his Excellency the Governor, and in giving this toast, Mr. Steer prefaced it

with a few remarks. He said that the inception of the idea of erecting an hotel at Moneague was

largely fostered by the experience of the Governor in Bahamas, and the encouragement he had

given in his Legislative, as well as personal capacity to the building of hotels in Jamaica, Mr.

Steer explained (as we have already noted) the cause of his Excellency not being then present,

which he had reason to think would have been otherwise the case. It is needless to say that this

like the previous and all the subsequent toasts was cordially responded to. The next toast

proposed was that of the contractors, Meters Wortley and Mais which was introduced by Mr.

Sutherland, the Secretary to the Hotel Company, as he had had very frequent and intimate

dealings with these gentlemen in the progress of their work, and he had found them always

ready to do every thine to meet the wishes of the Directors, not only up to, but even beyond the

limits of their contract, and as to the way in which that contract had been performed. He (the

speaker) might almost adopt the inscription in St. Paul's Cathedral, in honour of Sir

Christopher Wren, its builder. "Si monumentum requiris, circumspice." At any rate Messrs.

Wortley and Mais had completed their contract in "a workmanlike and masterly manner," and

he knew that this would be a standing utility and adornment to the hotel itself, and he hoped

and believed that these features would be a good business advertisement to the contractors.

   To this toast Mr. C. Mais, who (with his brother, Mr. E. Mais) was present, duly responded and reciprocated by proposing the health of the Directors, and wishes for the
permanent prosperity of the Company; which
aspirations were ably acknowledged by Mr. A. Roxborough, who then called for a toast in
honour of the
visitors, coupled specially with the
name of S. Constantine
Burke, Esq., to which that

gentleman replied with the easy grace a forensic

expert, although he did not at all appear there in

the capacity of an advocate "Learned in the Law” but, moderately spoke of himself only as a St.

Ann's pen-keeper.

responding said that as yet his experiences of Jamaica had been neither wide nor deep, but so
they went, were every way favourable, and he thought that there was a great future

opening to the island at large, and to that particular Hotel enterprise; as it was centrally

situated to the whole island and equally accessible in all directions; indeed, an idea struck him,

that as St. Ann was a large parish, and he understood that many of its officials found difficulties in getting residences; that these homeless ones should take up their permanent quarters at the Hotel - at any rate he was sure that more private residences would soon spring

up in its vicinity. Of course there were pessimists and croakers every where; and he had met a

few of them; who had told him, that the Hotel would never pay; that if it could have been

opened when the Exhibition of 1891 commenced; that it might have done a good business for

three months; but that after that it would have to be closed: whereas he appealed to the

gentlemen present - who were not interested financially, to say whether such men as the

Directors were, would invest - or encourage the expenditure of £5,000 capital on an adventure

which would have to be closed up three mouths after it was fairly started ? He thanked the

meeting for the kind word said and endorsed about himself; he did not profess to be “a

burning and a shining light”; but he had tried and would continue to try to do his duty to the

best of his ability. It was a pleasure to him, however, to know that he was giving satisfaction,

and he hoped in his official as well as in his personal capacity to remain in sympathy and

friendship with all classes in the large and important parish of St. Anns. The next and last

toast given was by Mr. Roxburgh; it was the "Press of Jamaica" - coupled with the names of the gentlemen present, who represented it. He said that the press of Jamaica was both a

respectable and efficient organization, it did a great deal of necessary and progressive work,

it had seen and expressed its conviction that first class hotels in favourable districts were

important factors in the future prosperity of Jamaica, both in regard to the comfort and health

of its inhabitants and also as to the attractions we could offer to visitors - whether they were

health or pleasure-seekers.

   This toast having been duly responded to by the representatives of

"GLEANER" and "NEWS LETTER" the company had to disperse at 2 p.m.,

as some of those present had to get to Ewarton to catch the 3.20 train to


   The day was calm and beautiful in St. Ann's, the views lovely and the climate

cool and exhilarating. A restful charm seemed to those who came from the hot

and toilful plains, to hover round the sloping hills and to nestle in the shady

trees. Horses, sheep and cattle wandered free within the large stone-walled

pastures, the drought all prevalent showed its traces even there; the verdure was that of autumn not of spring; but the "surloin" and the "saddle the

"turkey" and the "game" that weighted the festive side boards had known

nought of famine; nor had suffered from the severer hardships of drought. We left Kingston at 8 a.m., but were in the Exhibition ground by 6.16 p.m, and stayed to the fireworks. We had not passed through the Moneague for 30 years and the last time did so from Brown's Town. We got into Spanish Town "dead beat" both man and horses at 10 p.m. after ten hours travelling.

The next toast by the Chairman - was in recognition of those who - whether resident in the parish or not, represented the professional
and mercantile - rather than the agricultural interests of the country. With this as
representative of such classes, he
chairman) named J. C. Reece, Esq., the  highly respected and able Resident
Magistrate - then present. This toast Mr.
Gordon, of Spanish
Town seconded - as,
although not
resident in St. Ann's, his
led him frequently to be there and
brought him into
ultimate relation
with the
landed proprietors and
stock-breeders of

the parish - Mr. Reece in

Joseph Milward Gordon: pen-keeper, butcher, and Chairman of the St Catherine Parochial Board