Where to shop at Montego Bay Sangster International airport ....
Montego Bay, or ‘Mobay’ as the locals like to call it, is almost as famous for its shopping as it is for its dazzling white beaches, mountains and vibrant nightlife. Duty-free shopping is big business across Jamaica, but especially so around Montego Bay, home to countless tourists resorts, the big cruise ship port of Ocho Rios and the tourist town of Negril.
Designer boutiques, craft markets and giant shopping malls compete fiercely for tourist dollars. Jewellery, diamonds, fragrances, crystal, coffee, leather goods and rum lead the list of popular buys, and for the US tourists, who make up the majority visitors to this beautiful Caribbean island, there are big savings of up to 50% to be had compared with back home.
For years Montego Bay’s Sangster International airport was in no position to be able to compete with this glittering downtown retail scene. However, its privatisation in 2003 marked a decisive change in the airport’s commercial fortunes. Newly appointed long-term airport operator MBJ Airports Ltd. immediately embarked on an ambitious $165m upgrade and expansion project, which led to the opening of a new passenger terminal and the addition of over 200% more retail space.
Today, Sangster can proudly boast around 55 shops and restaurants, covering nearly 6,000 square metres of space, helping to make it one of the most modern and efficient airports in the entire Caribbean. With a total capacity in excess of 9m, the airport currently serves 54 airlines, which fly to 69 cities worldwide. Key destinations in the Americas include New York JFK
, while in Europe London Gatwick
are the hot routes.
When it comes to duty-free shops, passengers are spoilt for choice at Sangster. The ill-named Buccaneer Duty Free (weren’t Buccaneers infamous for robbing travellers?), Blue Mountain Duty Free, The Perfume Shop and Sunshine Liquor all compete for tourists’ attention. The product selections these shops offer are certainly up to international standards, and the array of rums on sale is particularly impressive. Appleton Estate, a mellow, rounded aged rum, distilled in Jamaica’s lush Nassau Valley, is the local tipple to go for.
One recent (and rather positive) development in our view is the introduction of arrivals duty-free stores at Jamaica’s two largest airports, Sangster and Kingston’s Norman Manley international airport. The broad selection of goods on sale in these new shops includes electronics, sunglasses, fragrances, liquor, tobacco, fashion and accessories, and digital cameras. The personal allowances for travellers entering Jamaica are modest by international standards (just 200 cigarettes per traveller and 1 litre of spirits), but any move to introduce convenient arrivals shops is welcomed by taxfreetravel.
If you are looking for a classy gift for a friend or loved one, a bag of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee might fit the bill. Find one at shops such as Coffee & Spice and The Coffee Mill. If you thought one cup of coffee tasted much like another, then think again. Blue Mountain coffee has a sweet, mellow taste and an almost chocolate aroma. Smell again and you will get hints of clove, orange peel and cinnamon. It makes a perfect after-dinner coffee. Blue Mountain is produced in a small mountainous area to the north of the capital Kingston, and most of what is produced is exported to Japan. Its scarcity explains the high price tag, but in our view it is worth every cent.
For Jamaican arts and crafts, and souvenirs head to either Bankra Buys, Heritage of Jamaica or Things Jamaican. Nice low-cost gift ideas in these stores include variety packs of spices grown on the island, miniature bottles of rum, hot pepper and jerk sauces, reggae CDs, printed t-shirts, ethnic jewellery and hand-decorated ceramics.
Sangster also offers travellers a wealth of fashion shops. Okay, if you are expecting to find cufflinks and business shirts, you are going to be disappointed. We are in the Caribbean here, folks, it is sunshine fashion all the way from Bermuda shorts, bikinis and sarongs to flip flops, flowery shirts and sandals. Take your pick from stores such Reggae Vibes, Island Leisure Sports, Cool Hub, Cool Gear, Walk Good and Cooyah. Don’t forget to complete your new look with a pair of sunglasses from Sunfree Hut.
After all that shopping, you may well be feeling a bit peckish. Again, Sangster doesn’t disappoint. The selection of restaurants and bars is refreshingly broad from authentic Jamaican restaurants such as the Island Grill, Jamaica Bobsled and Groovy Grouper to fast food joints such as the Pizza Kiosk and the Runway Deli Shop, which sells both coffee and sandwiches. Alternatively, grab a beer at the Red Stripe Bar and watch the world go by. After all that “chillin”, just make sure you don’t miss your flight!
Jamaica Duty Free Jamaica Duty Free Allowances
Montego Bay Sangster international airport official site: http://www.mbjairport.com/