If things had gone according to plan, Rajiv Johnson would have either been a professional footballer or a member of the army.
Today, however, he is one of Sandals Montego Bay’s most sought-after bartenders and the face of the company’s recent Sandals State of Mind online campaign. And, he would have it no other way.
“I love learning to make new drinks, meeting new people, getting to know them.”— Johnson
As a member of one of Jamaica’s leading football clubs, it seemed Johnson’s fate as a footballer was sealed. That was until he suffered an injury that dashed those hopes. Not one to give up, he set his sights on another goal – joining the army. Unfortunately, this dream was also crushed, as due to his injury he was unable to endure the rigorous training.
Though understandably disappointed back then, the determined 34-year-old believes it was destiny that steered him into his current role.
“Now when I look back I know that I didn’t make it because maybe that just wasn’t for me,” he said.
Plans to join the army
After his unsuccessful bid to join the army, Johnson turned his attention to learning a trade. Working with a construction company on several projects on the north coast, Johnson became a skilled plumber, painter and drywall installer. Work in this field, however, was seasonal. Johnson longed for a more secure income and applied for a job in the dining room at Sandals Montego Bay. Fate, however, was about to intervene once again.
“When I went to the resort for the interview I saw some guys walking around with trays full of food and drinks. I said to myself there’s no way I could balance all of that, and so I told the interviewer that I was interested in working in the bar instead,” he said.
Johnson got his wish and after completing training, he began his Sandals journey in 2015.
A people person with a big personality and infectious smile, Johnson loves what he does and his guests love him even more.
“I love learning to make new drinks, meeting new people, getting to know them and playing my part in ensuring they have the best vacation,” he said.
A guest-favourite on Trip Advisor, Johnson consistently receives rave reviews from vacationers, many of whom return to Sandals Montego Bay year after year just to spend time with him at the bar. For his consistent efforts, Johnson has received several awards and accolades, including being named the resort’s Diamond Team Member for the Year 2016.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Johnson was handpicked to be the face of Sandals’ State of Mind campaign, which was launched after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, to help guests recreate the Sandals experience at home.
The series features an energetic Johnson providing step-by-step instructions on how to recreate both old favourites and new twists on traditional drinks. To say he has been a hit among guests would be an understatement.
“That experience for me has been great. Because of that series I’ve ended up meeting a lot of new people. With the resort now reopened, people come to the bar and ask for the person that was doing the State of Mind videos. I’ve received a lot of positive reviews, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity,” he said.
Happy for the path his life has taken, despite the setbacks he’s experienced, Johnson is extremely grateful for the opportunities working with Sandals has presented. “Sandals is a great company and working here has given me so many opportunities. I get to be myself and display my personality,” he said.