Jamaican Daniel Grizzle first met his late wife Sylvie, then Sylvie Maucorps, at a Birmingham nightclub when a friend asked him to watch over her.
“Those were the days when mini skirts were the thing,” Grizzle says with a laugh, “and she dressed very conservatively like she was an executive in an office rather than someone at a club. ” Grizzle said he spoke to her and the rest, as they say, is history. When he saw the French Sylvie again, three weeks later during another evening, it was obvious. He wanted to spend more time with her, and he did. “After we met, after a while we were living together, then after a while we got married,” he explained.
The couple had planned to live in Africa, where Daniel had found a job, but a letter from his father saying he was in poor health and dying changed the couple’s course.
“We arrived in 1970 to look for my dad, and I took my wife, Negril being one of the places,” he said. “She fell in love with all of Jamaica and said ‘Anything you’re going to do in Africa you can do here’. So that’s how you end up coming back to Jamaica …. is my wife who fell in love with the country, so we came back, and i have to say my dad only died in 2004. he lived a very long life.
Charela Inn was acquired by the Grizzles in 1980 and is a portmanteau of the names of former owners Charles and Pamela Mucklow, who made a generous deal with the couple, allowing them to pay more than three years to acquire the property.
At the new Charela Inn, the restaurant was in the foreground as Sylvie was an excellent cook.
The couple were no strangers to the restaurant business. Before becoming hoteliers, they had bought a farm and decided to open a delicatessen. The deli eventually became a restaurant, first in a rented house, then on a rented property in Mirage (which they now own and operate as a guest house), where it was nicknamed Café Au Lait, and has hosted guests such as Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada and a “good friend of Michael Manley” in the 1970s.
Two years after the restaurant was built, the rooms of the family unit were built “and [they] borrowed some more money ‘to create the property’s 12 ocean view rooms, which opened in 1985.
“I’m still looking at this, and it’s 100 head of cattle. We were borrowing money from the Development Bank, ”Grizzle said. “When we started, we had 100 head of cattle. When we finished we only had one little calf, which I gave to the guy who worked on the farm.
Call it farm to construction – it’s one of the ways Charela Inn and Grizzle’s Cocoa Farm are deeply interconnected.
The other is through food – and the farm’s supply of fresh, farm-to-table ingredients for their Franco-Jamaican fusion restaurant, Le Vendôme. The restaurant offers fruits and provisions such as mangoes and bananas, as well as fresh cuts of meat, including beef, lamb and goat from the farm. The Vendôme also makes all the pastries and desserts served daily, from scratch, from loaves of bread to strudels, ice creams and croissants. It is run by Charmaine Bowen, her “Executive Chef and Bottle Washer,” who started as Sylvie’s apprentice at age 17, learned her cooking style and is now a director, shareholder and as a second daughter of the Grizzles.
“We acquired this property on December 15th ; she [Charmaine] came to work with us on December 16, ”Grizzle said.
LOVE OF PROGRESS
Today, the Charela Inn has 59 rooms, up from 10 previously, including family units and rooms for disabled guests. Improvements have recently been made to the junior suites, an almost kismet placement, as they are located on the existing structure of the property where it all began.
Charela Inn’s matriarch Sylvie passed away in 2018, but her influence on the property is still strong. “My wife was an excellent cook and a really hard and strong worker. So that’s how we [wound] here. This is how we find ourselves where we are today. And it is still his influence around the place; it’s always her, “said Grizzle, who takes a deep breath before adding,” The hotel always reflects a part of who it is or what it was. “
Charela Inn has solidified its place on Negril’s famous 7 mile beach and in the hearts of guests, many of whom often return to what feels less like a hotel and more like extended family. What makes Charella Inn different? “We are trying to do [that] as soon as you step onto the property, you don’t have to guess what country you are in. You are in Jamaica, ”Grizzle said. This makes the protection of the indelible coast a high priority for the good. Charela Inn is committed to protecting the environment, while maintaining its demarcation line with the coastline, following the rule that “you must not build within 50 meters of the sea”. “These people of old, they know the movement of the sea, and they know that there are times when the sea rises all the way,” Grizzle said. Instead of umbrellas, coconut palms dot the shoreline and provide natural shade and libations for guests, a fact Grizzle is proud of. The mainstay of tourism has rendered years of service to the industry, and on August 6, he was inducted into the Order of Distinction for his contributions.
So what does the future look like for Charela Inn? They are not yet ready to burst the Pol Roger, the famous French champagne Winston Churchill and the fantasy of the British royal family. “At 78, I can’t talk too much about the future, can I? You better ask Sophie, ”Grizzle said, referring us to his daughter who is sitting next to him.
“Well, it’s very difficult,” says Sophie Grizzle Roumel, “because my parents were lucky because I found myself in the same job as them, and they felt there was a certain continuity. I have two sons, and Charmaine has a daughter; we always hope that one of them will be interested in the business. They are all three very capable.
THE LOVE OF A LIFETIME
When asked if there was one thing he wanted, Grizzle’s response was straightforward. It is because his wife, Sylvie, was there to see everything. “My only big regret is that she (Sylvie) had to leave, just when we put everything together, the finished product. She hasn’t been able to enjoy it as long as I have, ”he said.
Anxious to preserve his memory, he created a scholarship in his name. “We are launching a million dollar scholarship within a few weeks to help young children. She has always been very passionate about small children [being] able to go to school and work, so we are launching a scholarship on his behalf. It will serve Negril All-Age, Sheffield and Mount Airy, with plans for expansion to other schools.
The Charela Inn is located on Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril. For more information call 876-957-4648 or visit www.charelainn.com or @charelainn on Instagram.