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JM | May 30, 2021

With premature end to Jamaica chapter, Mocha Fest pins chaotic Negril scenes on Rick’s Café

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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FILE PHOTO: Achival imagery of the past Mocha Fest festivities in Jamaica. Photo taken before cvoronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Mocha Fest.com)

After several days of intense backlash to its series of crowded parties, organisers of Mocha Fest 2021 have pulled the plug on the remaining events scheduled in Negril, Westmoreland. 

Mocha Fest, in a memo sent to clients, seemingly denied any responsibility for chaotic scenes that went viral on social media, and instead, blamed Rick’s Café for its ‘disappointing’ attempts to crowd control. 

Mocha Fest, which was just two days from the scheduled Jamaica completion on May 31, doubled down on its decision to host its events exclusively for tourists.

“We must first declare, as was made clear in the newsletters we sent out, modifying our intention was to visit the island of Jamaica and enjoy this trip while isolating the group from the local community,” organisers stated.

To compensate disgruntled patrons, Mocha Fest is offering half-off party package refunds, complimentary passes to the next Jamaica staging in 2022 or 20 per cent off on upcoming trips in Thailand, Costa Rica, Brazil, Greece or Kenya.

It continues to be a horrendous few days of PR hell for the embattled Rick’s Café, which remains subject to a government-sanctioned, seven-day closure for breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA). 

FILE PHOTO: Pre-pandemic scenes at famed Negril tourist hotspot, Rick’s Café. Photo taken in February 2018. (Photo: Facebook @RicksCafeJamaica)

The popular tourist bar also had its coronavirus (COVID-19) compliance certificate stripped by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).

See circulated memo, in full below: 

“As many of you may be aware by now, Mocha Fest has become the centrepiece of the local media over the past 24 hours. Videos of the afternoon we spent at Rick’s Café went viral, which ultimately triggered a series of backlash from local promoters and other members of the entertainment community. 

We must first declare, as we made clear in the newsletters we sent out, modifying our itinerary to remove all our public events, our intention was to visit the island of Jamaica and enjoy this trip while isolating the group from the local community. 

We managed to successfully do that with some of our activities; however, we could not have Rick’s Café agree to exclusive use of the venue for our guests. We moved forward with the group to Rick’s, trusting that as a reputable and licensed attraction, they would do what’s necessary and close the gate once maximum-allowed capacity was reached in accordance with local COVID protocols, to which they verbally agreed to do. 

To our disappointment, they did not close the gate. 

Thursday’s Daytime Urban Splash, a hip-hop themed pool party, held at Rick’s Café in Negril, Westmoreland. (Photo sourced from social media video)

Due to local protest and media backlash on Mocha Fest and the local Government, our hotel partners have informed us they have no choice but to have Mocha Fest guests participate in the regularly scheduled hotel itinerary. 

This means we will no longer be hosting our private activities at the respective hotel resorts. Mocha Fest understands the impact this may have on our vacation, and we are willing to do what we can to offer every Mocha Fest guest one of the following options for compensation:

  1. A full complimentary general party pass to Mocha Fest Jamaica 2022 or any other Mocha Fest event you may choose to book.
  2. For our VIP guests, the complimentary pass will be in the VIP category.
  3. Complimentary VIP tickets to either our Atlanta of DC Super Weekend.
  4. A 20 per cent discount on any of the following Mocha Fest bucket-list trips: Mocha Fest Thailand, Brazil, Costa Rica, Greece 2022 or Kenya.
  5. A 50 per cent refund on the party package you purchased.
Bookings for the 2022 staging of Mocha Fest Jamaica are now open. (Photo: Facebook @MochaFest)

We have also decided to split the remaining catamaran excursions over two days to ensure adequate room on each boat for proper social distancing. 

This will be ONLY for those who have yet to enjoy the cat cruise. Those that already participated on Wednesday and Thursday, we ask that you enjoy the resorts, so we can ensure we get everyone on board. 

If you leave Jamaica on Sunday, you will be on Saturday’s boat schedule at 10:00 am, all others will be on SUNDAY at 10:00 am.

For those who purchased bottles for the various nights, those will still be fulfilled or refunded based on your request. We are still very much here for you. We may not be able to control who gets to deejay by the pool at nights, but our team plans on being more present than ever in helping to enhance the rest of your Mocha Fest in whatever way we can. 

Our full team of Mocha Fest girls and partners will be with you by the pool and bars at nights to share this experience with you, listen to your feedback and ensuring that we put things in place to make the next Mocha Fest you attend the best experience of your life.

We will be passing through each hotel over the coming days. 

Week-long festivities listed for the 2021 Memorial Weekend staging of Mocha Fest in Jamaica. (Photo: Facebook @MochaFest)

Your experience at Mocha Fest is our responsibility, even though there have been so many things out of control. We went through extreme lengths with planning this event in these difficult times. Though the majority of these circumstances are beyond our control, we sincerely apologize. 

We are looking forward to Mocha Fest Jamaica coming back to its full glory in 2022 with this pandemic and restrictions most likely behind us, and we can have complete control of your experience by going back to independent venues off the resorts.”

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