The Singing Bartender of Negril


By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor

At first you think it’s satellite radio or recorded music playing. Then as you approach the lobby bar on your way to dinner at Riu ClubHotel Negril, you realize it’s neither. You realize what you’re hearing is live. And what you’re hearing is Paul Sundal.

At 8 o’clock each evening, as guests wander through the lobby of the Bloody Bay hotel on their way to dine, most stop in their tracks when they hear Sundal, bartender at the resort’s lobby bar, belting out tunes with all the skill of a seasoned professional.

Dapper in his black shirt jacket with starched white cuffs and collar, Sundal sings an hour-long repertoire of classic ballads (“I like the lovey-dovey stuff,” he says), everything from “Unchained Melody” to “Lady In Red” to “Hello,” accompanied by backing tracks pulsing from a speaker tucked below the counter. Simultaneously, he shovels ice, pulls Red Stripe and mixes rum punch for guests’ refreshment, never missing a (literal) beat.

As his falsetto soars, onlookers whip out their smartphones, eager to broadcast his talents to the world via Facebook or Instagram. And when the song ends, Sundal is rewarded with enthusiastic applause. And guests, with the memory of a unique Jamaican concert.

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