It is a very humid day and the sun has no letting up in the beautiful casual town of Negril. A petite frame, clad in green shirt and pants, pauses to take a sip of refreshing water from her tumbler, wipes sweat from her brow, and continues to push the lawnmower across the resort’s manicured lawns.

Even behind her mask, her sweaty brows and sun-tanned features aren’t what guests and team members see first, what they see is a friendly wave and wide, smiling eyes. That’s what Maxine Henry, landscaper at Sandals Negril is known for.

She is a popular figure on the resort, a remarkable landscaper, a philanthropist, a top garden tour specialist, and a proud ambassador for Sandals Resorts. Henry will share with anyone who asks about her Sandals journey that the industry has played a huge role in her life.  She proudly tells the story of the request that Sandals Resorts made to Ebony Park Heart Academy for a landscaper in December 2010. She was chosen as the only graduate from a batch of 16 students to represent the school.

She recalls starting off at Beaches Negril and after two days, her then landscaping director brought her to Sandals Negril to join the team.  “He wanted a change in the department and because I had greenhouse management expertise and a wealth of knowledge in ornamental horticulture I joined the team as the only female in landscaping” shared Henry.

Maxine Henry (centre), landscaper at Sandals Negril is flanked by colleagues Khani Wallace (left) and Ramone Kessnor.

Armed with levels one and two certificates in ornamental horticulture and a diploma in turf management, Henry set out to make her mark at Sandals Negril. She has built her training repertoire by taking advantage of course offerings through the Sandals Corporate University and the resort’s Learning and Development initiatives. She is a departmental trainer and has also completed Leadership Development and Supervisory Management. Henry was also the captain of the landscaping team who walked away with the 2019 Sandals Negril Inter-Departmental Challengers Quiz title.

After 10 years working in the sector that provided for her and her family, one can only imagine how displaced she felt when she no longer could turn to tourism as her source of income for months because of the pandemic. The widespread closure was devastating. “Seeing the closed hotels and inoperative airports was not a good feeling for us. Persons were a little bit stressed because of the uncertainty. But, with hotels reopening and the sector still pushing to overcome the effects of this pandemic, I remain hopeful that everything will turn out just fine. We may not be enjoying the healthy occupancies we are used to but we are giving God thanks that we are open and are grateful to be gainfully employed in a time where millions are without a source of income,” she shared.

Henry is a model team member who has been awarded a total of 21 times at the resort’s monthly and Annual Prestige Awards. 2019 saw her receiving the top accolade after she was named the resort’s Diamond Team Member of the Year. “I am the first landscaper at Sandals Negril to win the Diamond Award; it has really been a beacon for everyone on my team, it feels as if they’ve won the award too.”

She is a giver by nature and is a fundamental part of the company’s philanthropic deeds through the Sandals Foundation. She has in fact won the Sandals Foundation Award a total of nine times and that truly speaks to her spirit of volunteerism. She has offered her time while at work or on her days off to participate in numerous outreach projects.

Maxine was the lone female within her department with 12 males for a few years before her female colleague joined the very close-knit and dedicated landscaping team. She does not hold the title of supervisor but operates with such a respected style of leadership that she is regarded as the second in command. She was in fact offered the position which she gracefully declined because of the need to dedicate all her time away from work to her beloved daughter. “I was honoured to be offered this position, but with my daughter now doing full-time virtual classes, I wanted to be present to monitor her progress even more,” she revealed.

A smiling Maxine Henry, landscaper at Sandals Negril poses for a photo.

She shares that her team members definitely do not treat her any different because of her gender, but they are all mutually respectful to each other, they rap well and the experience working in a male dominated department has taught her to become more assertive in delegating tasks to them. “They also push me to do my best because you have to show them that gender is no hindrance to getting any job done and done well,” she voiced.

According to David Latchimy, general manager at Sandals Negril, “Maxine is a star employee; she shines amongst team members and guests who absolutely adore her. She is very knowledgeable in the field and she works with great passion. She definitely has a big heart, she makes herself available to others and that is admirable. It is a joy working around her, I have not seen her frustrated, she has such a calm confidence, and she leads the charge without asking for any recognition, she just does it willingly. We are honoured to have her on our team,” he said.

Maxine Henry (right), reigning Diamond Team Member for Sandals Negril collects her awards from resort General Manager David Latchimy during the 2018/2019 Annual Prestige Awards.