“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.
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 state-of-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.