Get To Know Jamaica Guide Robert Wilmot

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Get to know Robert Wilmot of El Sol Vida Tours, local expert in Jamaica. With over 20 years experience in tourism and management, Robert offers visitors a wealth of opportunities to experience a truly unique view of Jamaica.
Did you have any jobs or a career before becoming a tour guide? If so, how did you make the transition to becoming a tour guide?

Yes. I am a certified Engineering Surveyor. The transition was made at the request of my father who is a retired founder of Maxi Taxi Association – a transportation organization in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

In 2012, I became an independent travel agent with Inteletravel, a Florida based travel agency which enabled me with courses and taught me about the hotel and cruise industry. I successfully completed a course at the Travel Agent University to become a certified Jamaica Travel Specialist.

In 2014, I started a domestic tour company in Jamaica called El Sol Vida Tours. Having understood the difficulties travel agents were facing with regards to booking tours as few tours were available to them online to include in a single package for their clients, we acquired a reservations system for tour operators and began creation, operation and distribution of our local tours. We supply all major Online Travel Agents (OTA) with the right tours and more.

If you could only take a visitor to one place in Jamaica, where would you go?

This is such a difficult question as Jamaica is the pearl of the Caribbean and naturally boasts the best attractions. Some famous tourist destinations are Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril, Port Antonio and the South Coast. Popular attractions are Dunn’s River Falls, Port Royal (the city of the Pirates of the Caribbean) and many more.

One place in Jamaica that has not been so popular but is the most historically significant is the UNESCO World Heritage Site – The Blue Mountains. This is the longest and highest mountain range in Jamaica. It was once home to a group of African rebels who rejected slavery and were called the Maroons. To date, they are the only group that has intensely fought the British Army for 15 years without defeat (1725 -1740). Throughout the Blue Mountains lie the trails and villages where these brave warriors fought and lived. However, so remote are these sitesthat only hiking expeditions are recommended as helicopter service to the areas proves to be too dangerous due to the high elevations. The Blue Mountains produces 1/3 of Jamaica’s freshwater and also one of the world’s most sought after coffee.

We offer a lesser Blue Mountain Tour for a taste, however, whilst still in the Blue Mountains it is not considered a part of the UNESCO heritage site.

How would you describe your style as a guide?

Our style of guiding is to provide our clients with one on one personal attention and creating a comfortable and trustingly safe environment so our clients get more value and experience than what was anticipated.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of our job is to read the reviews of our satisfied customers and to know we made a positive impact and a potential return customer.

What’s the most bizarre experience or odd request from a client you’ve had on a guided tour?

I can’t say we have had a bizarre experience due to the preparation we put into our tours to ensure the best quality, however, we have had a guest ask us to take them to a Voodoo Priest (Obeah man) because they wanted to get spiritual protection.

Every job has its ups and downs. Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t that keen on?

I love the job and challenges give me the rush and the drive to make a positive outcome out of the adversity.

When you’re not busy guiding tours – what’s your favourite thing to do?

Experiencing the local sites with my family and team and creating new tours for the guests,

As an experienced guide yourself, can you explain to our readers what the benefits of hiring a guide are?

Hiring a local guide should be the number 1 consideration before going to a new country like Jamaica. Local guides are insiders with the unique destination knowledge about the country’s laws, places, people, cuisine, and culture that you would not necessarily find online. With his insider knowledge, the guide can package the perfect experience to fit the guest’s taste or budget, leaving the guest only to have a good time and create good memories.

What is the most delicious local specialty that all visitors must try?

Jamaica is famous for its style of barbeque called Jerk and its easy grab finger food called patties.

Jerk is the slow cooking of meats such as chicken, pork or fish over special wood that produces flavoring smoke. The meats are seasoned with the famous Jamaican Spicy Jerk Seasoning of scotch bonnet peppers and allspice.

Patties are thin flakey crust filled with any meat or vegetable and oven baked. These inexpensive treats are found everywhere and are lunch for many Jamaicans on the go. Jamaican patties are ranked as one of the best treats worldwide.

Tell us something about Jamaica that only a guide would know.

Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet and we can take our guests to experience the community where he was born.

In your view, what makes a good tour guide?

Someone who is honest, knowledgeable about his destination, and passionate about his job.

And finally, have you got any tips for people who are interested in booking a guide like yourself, but aren’t too sure what to look for?

  • Ask about guide certifications
  • Ask about licenses and insurance
  • Check out their websites or Facebook page
  • Trip Advisor Review
  • Guides with a company affiliation offer more security and peace of mind.

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