Guyana’s Mar­riott Project beats all Odds!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

“It gives me great plea­sure to open this iconic build­ing that has trans­formed the land­scape of Guyana.” With th­ese words the coun­try’s pres­i­dent Don­ald Ramo­tar drew re­sound­ing ap­plause last Thurs­day from the packed ball­room at the Mar­riott Ho­tel. The oc­ca­sion was a for­mal din­ner re­cep­tion for the grand open­ing of the US$58 mil­lion project that, ahead of the cer­e­mo­nial rib­bon cut­ting, had come un­der heavy scru­tiny by the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion.

“Mak­ing this project hap­pen has been a chal­lenge,” Ramo­tar went on. “Con­sid­er­able odds had to be over­come. But to­day, de­spite all of the at­tacks and slan­ders by peo­ple spe­cial­iz­ing in neg­a­tiv­ity and de­struc­tion, it has be­come a re­al­ity.”

Politi­cians will al­ways be politi­cians. The Guyana pres­i­dent listed what he de­scribed as “some of the many benefits to Guyana, in­clud­ing the pro­vi­sion of more than 200 jobs and the ho­tel serv­ing as a huge cat­a­lyst for the ex­pan­sion of the coun­try’s travel and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor.

“The Mar­riott brand is re­spected in the most pros­per­ous and so­phis­ti­cated of me­trop­o­lises around the world,” said the fi­nance min­is­ter Ashni Singh “It is our great priv­i­lege that this highly re­spected brand, the Mar­riott, would as­so­ciate it­self with Guyana. This is a strong state­ment of con­fi­dence and op­ti­mism.”

Roberto Grisi, the Guyana Mar­riott’s gen­eral manager, said, “We are con­fi­dent this beau­ti­ful ho­tel will be highly suc­cess­ful. It will open doors of op­por­tu­nity for the lo­cal Guyanese work­force.” He said new em­ploy­ees had been through more than 300 hours of world-class train­ing in prepa­ra­tion for Mar­riott’s es­teemed guests.

Most of the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the Mar­riott project cen­tered on the fact that while the Repub­lic Bank Limited and the eq­uity in­vestor re­main com­mit­ted to the project to the tune of US$27M and US$8M re­spec­tively, full dis­burse­ment has been de­layed by legal ac­tions filed by the op­po­si­tion. In the in­terim, fund­ing from Na­tional Industrial & Com­mer­cial In­vest­ments Ltd (NICIL) was se­cured to con­clude the ho­tel.

“As a re­sult of the con­tin­ued legal ac­tion,” said the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of NICIL and At­lantic Ho­tel Inc’s chair­man Win­ston Brass­ing­ton, it had been nec­es­sary for NICIL to fund on an in­terim ba­sis the por­tion of the ex­pected pri­vate fi­nanc­ing. Oth­er­wise, Brass­ing­ton noted, con­struc­tion of the ho­tel would have stalled. Small won­der that speech maker af­ter speech maker thanked Brass­ing­ton for press­ing ahead with the project, de­spite im­mense po­lit­i­cal pres­sure.

“By ex­pand­ing into Guyana with our new part­ners, not only are we bring­ing more ho­tel rooms to the Guyanese mar­ket, but we are also el­e­vat­ing the stan­dards of hos­pi­tal­ity in Ge­orge­town, cur­rently experiencing a large growth in tourism,” said Rahul Vir, area vice-pres­i­dent of South Amer­ica at Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional.

Built by Shang­hai Con­struc­tion, a Chi­nese con­struc­tion com­pany with a sub­sidiary in Trinidad and Tobago, the 197-room Mar­riott is the first ma­jor brand to come to Guyana in more than 45 years. It is about ten min­utes from Ogly Air­port. Sit­ting on prime beach­front prop­erty, it af­fords sev­eral ameni­ties in­clud­ing a ball­room, pres­i­den­tial suite, meet­ing and con­fer­ence rooms and a sta­teof-the-art fit­ness cen­ter.

The Mar­riott’s Terra Mare restau­rant boasts “a com­plete culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence from land and sea with a full wine list that pairs beau­ti­fully with the fea­tured dishes.” The ho­tel also fea­tures an out­door pool deck with a sleek bar and grill.

The Mar­riott Guyana will also fea­ture the sig­na­ture in­ter­ac­tive Great­room con­cept with a lobby where guests and lo­cals can gather, by them­selves or with friends or col­leagues, to re­lax, so­cial­ize and work. With free Wi-Fi and USB ports and out­lets through­out the lobby, ho­tel guests can work on their lap­tops and re­lax with their own tablets.

A view from the top: one of the in­te­rior bars at the Mar­riott.

The Mar­riott stand­ing tall in Ge­orge­town, Guyana.

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