Creating fun memories with your family and friends is what Skallywag Bay Adventure Park in Chaguaramas is all about, says its marketing manager Leela Rampersad.
“People are seeking something different, especially families. A lot of places in Trinidad are lacking that family vibe, which is where Skallywag Bay comes in. Our research showed a lot of parents have been trying to get their children to do more outdoor activities than just being on their electronic devices.
“Now that the park is open, based on the feedback we’ve gotten, a lot of parents appreciate what we have to offer. They get to spend that quality time with their children, creating their own adventures, which is what the park is all about.”
This original adventure and theme park and its Gruffles characters were the vision of 35-year-old Trinidadian Rossi Potluri, who works in film animation.
Potluri told Business Day his vision was to “create a space where families from all walks of life can share and play together again. Like it was in the old days.”
The park’s concept design and execution, including the signs, were done by Imagination Corporation based in British Columbia, Canada.
Potluri is CEO of Skallywag Bay while his father, Dr Shreevenu Potluri is managing director of the park and of its parent company, Starburst Parks Ltd. Originally from India, Dr Potluri has lived and worked in Trinidad for about 40 years.
Speaking with Business Day from her office overlooking the park, Rampersad shared some of the Gruffles’ story.
“The true pirates were unique creatures called Gruffles. Their secret hideaway was Skallywag Bay in Trinidad (where) the industrious Gruffles built their homes from salvaged ship parts and other materials at hand. They were inventors with mechanical minds, far ahead of their time.”
Rampersad said in the future, Skallywag Bay will host “theatrical parades through the park, (reminiscent) of the parades at Disney World in Florida but with our very own Gruffles interacting with patrons.”
A train will also be added in the near future, offering visitors views of the attractions on their journey around and through the park. All of this is part of the more than $70 million invested in the park to date.
Some of that money was spent on what Rampersad described as “extensive” customer service training for staff, who also underwent first aid training, point of sale service training and operational safety training.
Catering for “a full demographic”, Rampersad said the bumper boats and mini golf course are ideal for children with special needs and those seeking a more relaxing time.
“Our staff will also be trained to work with children with special needs. We’re still in talks with various groups but we hope to get that going soon. Our bumper boats are the most relaxing ride, ideal for a calm outing. Our ride attendants accompany the patrons in the pool to ensure their safety and comfort. Mini golf is also a great option.”
Rampersad assured there are visible and hidden security measures in place to safeguard visitors, inclusive of security guards and CCTV cameras.
Skallywag Bay recruited most of its staff from nearby areas, namely Carenage, Diego Martin and Port of Spain. Although most of the positions have been filled, the park still needs “some back up staff, some support staff in accounting and a marketing assistant.”
The park’s weekday opening hours are currently 11 am to 7 pm Wednesday to Friday and 9 am to 9 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Once school re-opens in September, its weekday hours will shift to 3 pm to 9 pm. Rampersad told Business Day, “The later opening hours during the week will allow us to rent out the park for private events before it opens to the public. However, if someone wants to rent it out later in the day, that can be arranged too.”
Group packages – where a group of 15 or more gets ten per cent off the price of admission – were introduced earlier this month while birthday and corporate packages will be available later this month.
Skallywag Bay is at the start of the peninsula, so drivers face less of a jam on the getting into and out of the area, but Rampersad would like to see the resumption of a water taxi service between Port of Spain and Chaguaramas.
“That would attract more visitors, especially those without a car and those who don’t drive. We will have to talk with the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA), the Ministry of Transport and so on.”
Management is also in talks with hotels to offer packages to guests who would like to visit the park during their stay.
“We’re in talks with Hyatt, Hilton and Kapok so far about marketing the park to their guests – a package where visitors would get a discount/special rate if they’re staying at one of our partner hotels.”
Another way in which Rampersad expects to attract visitors to Skallywag Bay is through the CDA’s bus tours of attractions on the peninsula.