Once people get over the initial shock of what we’re doing, the overwhelming next feeling is inspired.”
Have you ever gone on vacation and said to yourself, “I could live here?” On a trip to Jamaica, Kalisa Martin entertained that idea — and actually went through with it.
It was during a lingering and nasty New York City winter in March 2014. Martin and her boyfriend Jeff Belizaire decided to escape the snow by taking a last-minute getaway to Jamaica. At the time, Martin had a dream job in the New York culinary world: brand director at Tasting Table, a digital destination for culinary enthusiasts. She also appeared on national television shows like Good Morning America.
But there was something about that trip that spoke to Martin — profoundly.
“That long weekend, the idea of the B&B concept came up and we thought, ‘Why not?’ It could happen, and it could happen right here in Jamaica,” said 30-year-old Martin. “That was the first time we seriously considered the idea.”
Within four months Martin had quit her job and was on her way to Jamaica with Belizaire to create The Runaway, a bed-and-breakfast that has grown into a lifestyle travel brand.
We ran away from the cold and the typical 9-5 to follow our dreams and create this new life,” says Martin.
And this isn’t your average bed-and-breakfast. The Runaway Jamaica is the first successfully funded B&B on Kickstarter. Backers donated almost $47,000 to help bring the property to life.
The concept: a community-oriented luxury bed-and-breakfast that also serves lunch and dinner. Located on the North Coast of the island, The Runaway focuses on local food, curated cultural experiences and a design that incorporates contemporary art by Jamaican artists. “It’s a unique destination for adventurous travelers to come to live as locals,” says Martin.
As co-founder and executive chef, Martin is responsible for the culinary experience (menu development, recipe testing, ingredient sourcing, cooking for guests), along with the day-to-day operations. This newfound entrepreneur shares what it takes to become an hotelier and live the dream in Jamaica.