The journey has officially begun for the “first internationally branded first-class” hotel on the mainland, which is set to include 250 rooms, several restaurants, bars, swimming pools, tennis courts, and first class meeting facilities.
The ceremonial signing ceremony for the St Vincent Marriott Resort between Marriott International and National Properties Ltd was held this Tuesday at Private Mount Wynne.
Vice President (Hotel Development for the Caribbean and Latin America), Mariott International, Bojan Kumer, said that they were very excited for the project and partnership between Marriott and the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines(SVG) via National Properties Ltd.
“St Vincent and the natural beauty that it has to offer is a perfect place for a new Marriott hotel, and also a great new location to offer to our 140 million bon voy members, Marriott loyalty reward members,” he expressed.
“This will be the first Marriott branded hotel in St Vincent, and also the first internationally branded first class hotel on the mainland,” he stated, and listed its anticipated facilities.
The Vice President stated that the new hotel should set new standards for all future developments in SVG, while noting that one of their goals is to be mindful of sustainability.
Further, he noted “the opportunity to obtain the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification upon the completion of this project.”
“This hotel will employ approximately 250 to 300 employees, and these employees will actually have the opportunity to work for the largest hotel chain in the world and will have a tremendous opportunity to grow their professional careers and explore the world,” Kumer promised.
The Marriott representative informed that they are hoping to welcome the first guest to the new resort in a “couple” of years.
There was a lead up period of two and a half years to the signing that occurred on Tuesday, according to Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves.
The Minister had previously announced that Marriott was coming on board during a press conference on August 20.
“We had our first email exchange with Bojan in March less than a month after the airport opened in 2017,” the Minister informed. From this point, it was a long road, which included, among other things, a feasibility study, projected performance evaluation, and seven months of contract negotiation before the Marriott Board finally approved the project in June.
“On this beautiful spot in a couple years time, you’re going to have one of the most spectacular resorts anywhere in the Caribbean, bearing the Marriott brand,” he announced.
Thirty years ago, the Government purchased land in the areas stretching from Peter’s Hope to Mount Wynne, that they had earmarked for tourism development, but the progress had been slow over the years, Gonsalves noted.
He said that the opening of the Argyle International Airport(AIA) allowed them to revisit the idea of mass tourism development.
“We wanted to develop a unique signature hotel in partnership with a major International brand that would set a new standard for tourism in St Vincent and make a statement about the type of hospitality sector we intend to develop,” he stated. Gonsalves explained that they did not want it to impose itself on the natural landscape, and they wanted the project to be sufficiently ambitious in order to draw the attention of other potential investors to the island.
“Those goals and the narrow window of opportunity that we felt we had to make the Argyle International Airport work, it necessitated the state’s involvement in the hotel sector,” he revealed.
When they were deciding in what capacity the Government would be involved, the Minister noted that they decided that they didn’t want it to be a franchise arrangement.
In the end, they decided to propose a Management Contract with Marriott, which, according to online sources, is an arrangement under which operational control of an enterprise is vested by contract in a separate enterprise that performs the necessary managerial functions in return for a fee.
Therefore, the Government is building the hotel, and Marriott will manage it.
“Given our limited availability of local skills, our non-existent experience in running a large hotel, the lack of an operations team, and our own reluctance to engage in hotel management, the realization that franchising and credibility would be easier if we had a strong brand in our corner and the need for access to a major company’s development, design, and operation support,” they decided on this route, Gonsalves noted.
The Marriott is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, and they have a proven track record, the Minister said, and this is why it was decided that the state wanted to work with them.
Additionally, he noted, “They have prior experience of successfully managing resorts on beaches with black sand,” and they intend to keep Mount Wynne as a black sand beach.
“This hotel marks the official start of a renaissance in the Central Leeward area,” the Finance Minister promised.