Digicel turns hotelier in Haiti
Regional telecommunications major Digicel is partnering with Marriott to establish a 173-room hotel in Haiti’s capital.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Thursday, December 1, 2011 – After a decade of providing telecommunications services across the Caribbean, Digicel is branching out into a whole new field – the hospitality sector.
The Digicel Group is the single largest private investor in Haiti, and the country’s largest telecommunications provider, but now it has set its sites on designing and building the US$45 million, 173-room Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel. Construction on the property is expected to begin in 2012, with opening expected in mid-2014.
Digicel, through its subsidiary Unigestion Holding S.A., is responsible for the hotel and chose Marriott International’s flagship Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand as its operating partner.
In addition to creating 175 new jobs, Marriott will invest in hospitality training to benefit Haiti’s tourism sector.
The Port-au-Prince Marriott will be located in the Haute Turgeau area of the city. It will offer 168 rooms and five suites with Marriott’s signature amenities and features. The hotel will include flexible meeting space, a fitness center, swimming pool, and sundries shop/marketplace.
With roughly 500 hotel rooms operating in the city, the Port-au-Prince Marriott will add 173 rooms to the capital city and create much needed lodging and meeting space for business travelers seeking to invest in the country, non-government organizations (NGOs), humanitarian organizations, reconstruction teams, financial institutions and visitors to the capital. Port-au-Prince is located in the southern part of the country on the Gulf of Gonave and is home to approximately 20 percent of the country’s population.
The Clinton Foundation has worked closely with Marriott and Digicel to develop this project. The Foundation connected Marriott and Digicel knowing their mutual interests in the hotel sector, visited proposed construction sites with the parties and facilitated introductions to the Haitian government and the Haitian Tourism Association.
“This new hotel project will stand as a symbol of Haiti’s recovery, providing much needed jobs to the Haitian people and encouraging foreigners to visit, invest and work in Port-au-Prince,” said President Clinton. “My Foundation has worked with both Marriott and Digicel, and encouraged them to form this partnership. Their investment proves that Haiti is open for business and on the path to economic recovery.”
Digicel Chairman and founder, Denis O’Brien, commented; “Working with Marriott International to bring the flagship Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand to Haiti, communicates confidence in the country’s outlook and is a huge step towards attracting more long-term investment into the country. With lodging options severely limited in Port-au-Prince, this is indeed bright news.”
Digicel is the single largest private investor in Haiti and the country’s largest telecoms provider. Mr. O’Brien is also founder and patron of Digicel Foundation, a charitable organization actively involved in rebuilding Haiti which to date has constructed a total of 70 schools. The Digicel Foundation has collaborated with the Clinton Global Initiative, which was founded by President Clinton. As chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative’s Haiti Action Network, Mr. O’Brien has been instrumental in supporting 80 support organizations in Haiti and reconstructing the iconic Iron Market in Port-au-Prince.
“Haiti is in great need of quality hotels today, and for the foreseeable future,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s president and chief operating officer. “This hotel is one more signal that Haiti is open for business. That’s what we’re telling the world today as part of our announcement. Of course, this is a long-term goal with tremendous needs still need to be met, but we believe we can make a difference in Haiti by injecting capital, creating jobs and developing the human talent that can help lift this country over time back to its rightful place as one of the top destinations in the Caribbean.
“The selection of the Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand to be constructed in Port-au-Prince is very deliberate. We aspire for a hotel of our flagship brand to be located in every capital in countries where we operate. Over time, as Haiti continues to heal, rebuild and develop, our hotel will not only help the many organizations serving Haiti now, but would also stimulate business and attract leisure visitors in the future. Combined with the local businesses we can support, this is the ‘multiplier effect’ that travel and tourism brings to the economies of emerging countries.
“Marriott has special gratitude for our Haitian associates, 1,000 of whom work at our South Florida hotels, who urged us to do what we know best in Haiti and build this hotel.”
Since the earthquake, the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., which has approximately 250 Haitian associates, has been involved in two relief missions to Haiti delivering clothing, food and water, toiletries, re- building homes, orphanages, schools and other humanitarian support. Associates of Marriott’s South Florida hotels have raised $200,000 to support recovery efforts. In 2010, the J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation contributed $500,000 to the Red Cross for immediate earthquake relief and re-settlement efforts.