Family for many is what you make it, it goes far beyond blood to the community persons are a part of and the people they can rely on. For Assistant Kids Camp Manager at Beaches Negril Resort and Spa, Yanike Brown; through shared experience and bonding on the job, her colleagues became the family she chose.
With her first introduction to the Beaches brand as an intern on the Work Experience Programme at Beaches Boscobel (Now Beaches Ocho Rios) in 2006, Yanike, who was assigned to the kitchen department shared that her work ethic impressed the Executive Chef and she was offered the opportunity to work at the resort. Sharing that though she had the desire to further her studies, she was unable to finance this dream and so the young, yet determined 18-year-old girl from Cock Street, St. Mary accepted the job offer.
Yanike recalls how her love for cooking paved the way for a career she never could have foretold, with Beaches. According to her, her love for cooking stemmed from having to learn at the age of 9 years old to prepare meals not just for herself, but also her younger brother as their mother was rarely at home. Seeing how important a meal was and the joy a plate prepared with gratitude and care could bring to others, she developed a relationship with food that saw her sharing the gift of her hands with many.
“I enjoy making people happy and in a healthy way food can do just that. I am big on food science, so it’s never just preparing a meal but also sharing with others how they can nourish their bodies. I brought this same energy to work and so while working in the kitchen my meals were centered around ensuring the guests had a taste of home,” Yanike added.
Though she enjoyed making her guests happy by preparing meals, Yanike shared she had a strong desire to broaden her skillsets and almost as if her thoughts could be heard aloud, she was offered a position a year later as an Animator. In that role she assisted in bringing the Sesame Street characters and experience on resort to life. She quickly made a name for herself as she was constantly bringing new ideas that not only made the guests’ experiences better, but also pushed her team to grow and develop their craft.
Yanike shared that from a tender age she learned to appreciate the simpler things in life and also to give to those in need. Her transition to the Animations department provided her with the opportunity to become a dedicated Sandals Foundation ambassador and an avenue to share her creative skills though the various initiatives that were undertaken by the Foundation.
“I didn’t know I could’ve been this creative, yes I was gifted with my hands when it came to cooking, but this was a whole different ball game. I understood the importance of philanthropy and extending the same love that we want, to those in our communities. Volunteering with the Sandals Foundation was an outlet for me and I was able to touch the lives of others in a way the younger me would have appreciated,” Yanike shared.
Honing and developing her craft, Yanike was promoted to the Kids Camp in 2014, as the Kids Camp Supervisor. With her previous exposure in transforming the vacation experience for kids on resort while she was at the Animations department, she was able to transfer her knowledge to ensure they left with fond memories.
While forming an unbreakable bond with her fellow team members, Yanike was also busy building a family of her own outside of work. However, little did she know there would come a time that her work family would be the support that kept her grounded as she went through her season of loss when her husband died.
“I will never forget that day, I got the news when I was called from work and my world felt as though it came undone. The support from my team was very strong during this time, I did not come from a big family or have that great bond like most persons and so my team was the family I could turn to. I had to show up as a mom for my daughter and the Beaches family ensured I put my best foot forward,” she reflected.
Having gone through a rough time when it came to growing through grief, Yanike shared she came face-to-face with challenging times even after this. An opportunity to transfer to Beaches Negril Resort and Spa as the Animations Supervisor in 2017 presented itself and though it was a hard decision to take the leap and relocate, she shared that again, her work family encouraged her to bet on herself and take up the offer.
“After my transition to Beaches Negril, I saw the opportunity to take the guest experience to another level and so we introduced concepts such as making the weekly Sesame Street parade a grand experience for our guests and launched the balloon art designs project. I was even tasked with sharing these initiatives with my previous team,” a proud Yanike shared.
Yanike brought her infectious personality to Beaches Negril and many have confessed that though quick on her feet she has always been equally quick to listen and slow to respond and for them this has made her a terrific leader among her younger team members and she has earned respect from her older colleagues.
In 2021, after four years with the Animations department, she was offered another opportunity to grow in her career, this time as Assistant Kid’s Camp Manager at the resort. She noted that though she made countless memories with her animators, she was excited to take on this new role as she knew she would be able to bring her own flair to the operation.
Away from work, Yanike enjoys spending time with her daughter and though she may not be as big on cooking as she is, her daughter is creative in her own right. A lover of adventure and indulging in hands-on activities; she has a passion for philanthropy just like her mom.
“I have always encouraged her to make time for giving back and for volunteerism; she knows the challenges we faced growing up and it now warms my heart to see her taking initiative when it comes to donating and offering assistance. Although she may not be so fond of preparing certain meals, I can say when it comes to the arts I’m often blown away by the things she creates,” Yanike shared.
Now a woman who has lived many realities and has formed a community for herself, it is her desire to continue growing with her Beaches family with the hopes of becoming a Kid’s Camp Manager. Steadfast in her belief in showing up for her team, Yanike noted that she has grown into the woman her younger self would have seen as a role model. She is dedicated to encouraging old and new team colleagues to aim for the best, bet on themselves and push forward despite all challenges; because the community they have created at work and at home will be oil to their engine when they need to traverse the tough times.