BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant business co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN Ard Jarrett was asked to design Supreme Ventures Limited's (SVL) new $200- million gaming lounge, the young architect said he stripped all man-made influences clean from his thought process.
Instead, he took a zen approach and thought about natural elements of the world.
"When I got the design brief to create something that was going to be timeless, revolutionary and representative of a journey... I started to think about gold, precious metals, diamonds, water, earth, things that grow and come from the world, because those things are what will remain throughout time," said Jarrett, design principal of Zuar Limited.
"You have styles that men came up with because of religion, because of history, because of a progression of things to do with how man interacted with civilisation. This is the total opposite," Jarrett said.
He was speaking with the Business Observer during a media tour of the Odyssey Gaming Lounge (referred to as 'Secret Room' during its build-out) at the MarketPlace in Kingston yesterday. Located between Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records and Fiction nightclub, Odyssey will become the latest entity to join the increasingly competitive gaming lounge market when it opens its doors on Saturday.
SVL collaborated with Tracks & Records and Fiction operator, Kingston Live Entertainment (KLE) Group, in the new venture. The gaming company will operate and manage Odyssey while KLE provides food and beverage and marketing and public relations services.
Jarrett is a director at KLE and helped to design both Fiction and Tracks & Records. In describing Odyssey as "one-of-a-kind", he said it will change the way people think about gaming space in the region.
The 9,000 square-foot non-smoking facility features hand-rails made from pimento sticks, custom-made carpets with flower patterns and other elements of nature.
"The Os scattered around the place not only represents the symbol for Odyssey but also things in nature — bubbles, water, lack of gravity," Jarrett noted, adding: "The ceiling above you seems like it's moving all though it's not and it seems like it's floating in mid air and multi-dimensional."
With four different entrance points — two conventional entrances at the back and front, and one each from Fiction and Tracks & Records — the senses of patrons will be stimulated to give the sense of a journey, explained the designer.
"Apart from what's inside the space, how people interact with the space is very important. The connectivity you're going to see on the journey from Fiction to Odyssey to Tracks makes it even more dynamic," said Jarrett, whose work also includes premium residences for several Jamaican bigwigs and the Monarch pharmacy in Sovereign.
Meanwhile, 48 new jobs will be created from the venture, which will feature 145 gaming seats, including a 14-seater TCS huxley High definition Touch Table Roulette Game, an eight-seater Interbloc G4 organic Roulette game, 15 Williams BB2 transmissive reels Video Lottery Terminals and traditional slot machines.
Other machines include four hosted Digi deal DTS V Tables, which are multi-player seated games configured for three Blackjack tables and one Baccarat table. The games on these multi-players will be initiated through interaction with a "table hostess" to give the feeling of an actual casino — the passing of which is before Parliament — with live dealers.
"All of the rules that go along with live gaming which come under the casino legislation are rules which we sought (to follow)," said SVL President and CEO Brian George.
"We are creating that type of imagery with a real person, somebody who's there for (gamers) to interface with. Even if someone comes by themselves and they want to play but want someone to talk to, there's someone there," he said.
The gaming lounge sector has become increasingly competitive in recent years, with a proliferation of players entering the battle for market share in an industry lasrgely dependent on discretionary income.
But George is confident that Odyssey will gain substantial market share through both new and existing gamers. Noting that research shows a growing number of people looking for entertainment alternatives, George expects the non-smoking feature at Odyssey to be among the big drawing cards.
"What has happened in the past is that the gaming environment has not been one that is conducive to people wanting to come out," said George.
"We recognise that there are a lot of people who want to go out and game but have historically not been comfortable going into what has traditionally been a more smokey environment," said the SVL boss.
Odyssey's operating hours are 1 pm to 1 am on Sundays to Wednesdays, and 1 pm to 3 am Thursdays to Saturdays. However, George said the closing hours are flexible based on demand.
SVL operates six gaming lounges on the island, including Acropolis and Coral Cliff.