When Jeff Belizaire and Kalisa Martin first met in church in New York, they didn’t realize they shared a dream to open and run something of their own that focused on hospitality, community and food. The couple who are both of Caribbean descent, Belizaire is Haitian and Martin is Jamaican, are set to open The Runaway this fall after successfully raising $30,000 on Kickstarter.
“When I first met Jeff again that day when he was busy sweeping me off my feet, I remember one thing he told me was, ‘Oh yeah, I am going to retire and open up a bed and breakfast in the Caribbean,’” says Martin.
Although retirement is not around the corner, the last two brutal winters in the Big Apple proved to be too much and was the motivation behind a Jamaican getaway that sealed the deal on opening that bed and breakfast ahead of his retirement schedule. “Jeff said, ‘Next winter we are not going to be in the cold,'” says Martin who grew up in South Jersey.
Set to open this September, The Runaway will be located off Jamaica’s north coast in Runaway Bay, a town in Saint Ann Parish. The community-oriented luxury bed and breakfast will be the first of its kind in the area offering amazing food and curated cultural experiences.
Martin, who received her classical culinary arts degree from The French Institute in New York, is the chef and head of operations and excited about what The Runaway will offer in terms of the food. She is actually calling The Runaway a Breakfast, Lunch Dinner or B.L.D because all three meals plus snacks will be included in guests’ stays.
“We really want the dining experience to be a memorable one. The reason why people would want to come to The Runaway is to eat with us and to dine with us. So we are going to be providing breakfast, lunch and dinner along with snacks and customized drinks of the day and smoothies. So food is going to be a major way that we are going to set ourselves apart,” says Martin.
Once booked, guests will be asked about their preferences so that each meal is curated and made to order to their liking with local and seasonal ingredients. Martin shares, “We want guests to feel like they are celebrities coming to stay at their summer home on the island and everything is custom for them.”
Belizaire will oversee business development and marketing as he continues to run his projects as a highly sought after brand consultant and social media strategist for his digital agency.
Martin’s family owns the property that will soon be transformed into guests’ home away from home. Guests will enjoy the four-bedroom house that comes with private bathrooms in each room, a communal living room, dining room and open kitchen. In addition, amenities will include an outdoor shower, library and dedicated workspace, rooftop garden and lounge with space for yoga, wifi and a local phone.
Looking forward to this exciting next chapter in her life, Martin says, “Although I did not grow up here [Jamaica], I feel more at home here than anywhere else.”