The government is into the final stages of negotiating a management deal for the 250-room hotel it plans to construct in the Mt Wynne-Peter’s Hope area.
Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, told a signing ceremony on Tuesday, that he was not in a position to say which of the following chains will manage the state-owned hotel: Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott or IHG.
“Negotiations are very, very far advanced. We are down to two clauses essentially that we are finalising some information on and once we have that finalised, that company, its board will meet, and, hopefully, approve the decision to come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves told reporters.
He added: “There are all indications to announce that they will and then we will be in a position to announce the brand of the hotel.”
The finance minister said his government intends to break ground this year on the hotel at Mt Wynne-Peter’s Hope, on St. Vincent’s western coast, as well as a 93-room hotel at Diamond, in eastern St. Vincent.
“And we think it will be a two-year construction process from start to finish. So we are looking to open this hotel in 2021.”
The minister’s comments came at a ceremony at which he signed a loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank of the Republic of China (Eximbank) for US$50 million, for the construction of the hotel.
Speaking at the ceremony in Kingstown, Taiwan Ambassador to St. Vincent, Calvin Ho, said:
“I do believe this visionary project is very meaningful because it might open a new chapter, start a new phase of the economic development of this country, also will make this country become one of the most attractive tourist places in the Caribbean, together with the opening of the Argyle international airport. So, I am so excited that my colleague and I can be involved in this signing ceremony…”
In response, Gonsalves said:
“This is a very happy day in the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A day when we have to put some money where our mouth has been in terms of the construction of hotel stock, if additions of high quality hotel rooms to the Vincentian tourism stock are to play a major role in ensuring growth and development in that sector and St. Vincent and the Grenadines more broadly.”
Gonsalves told reporters and media audiences that Mexican architect Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos is making final adjustments to the design of the Mt Wynne-Peter’s Hope hotel.
He said Norten has developed what the government considers a very exciting and unique concept design for the hotel that will achieve what the government wanted: “to set a particular standard for the tourism product in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to distinguish us from other locations in the region.”
The hotel will be about three floors high in most blocks of rooms, except for some cabanas that will be VIP accommodation.
It will have a restaurant over the water and a second one closer to the entrance, near the road, three pools, and conference room facilities. There will be a family pool and a separate adult pool.
What is envisaged is “something that blends into the very beautiful natural environment of Mt Wynne and Peters’ Hope,” Gonsalves said.
“We weren’t trying to construct a massive concrete structure that sort of imposes itself on the environment but something, instead, that blends itself into the natural environment.”
The concept involves a lot of use of wood “and something that is natural in its design”.
When the design is complete, the construction will be put out to tender, Gonsalves said.
“There are very few entities here that we feel that can manage work of this size but we are going to put it out to tender and hope that we get an entity with experience both in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in construction in the region to assist us in the construction.”
The architects have been meeting with the hotel managers to ensure that the construction of the hotel and the design of the rooms, the amenities will be in keeping with the standard of this particular hotel brand.
“We have gone as far as we can go without money and that is why it is important now that we have the support of the government and people of Taiwan and the Taiwan Eximbank,” Gonsalves said.
He said the Taipei financial institution has been very helpful and extremely accommodating to his government.
“The initial conversations that we had about interest rates and the like, we had to go back an forth to get terms that were favourable to both sides, and we want to thank the Eximbank and the government or Taiwan and Ambassador Ho, in particular, for facilitating this process in a quick manner and a complete manner and we are at the point now, where, having signed this, we can accelerate the process of the construction of this hotel,” Gonsalves said.