Manager of National Properties Ltd., Hans King, left, shakes hands with Bojan Kumer, Marriott International’s vice president for hotel development — Caribbean and Latin America, after signing the management contract. (Photo: Discover SVG/Facebook)

The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Marriott International, on Tuesday, inked a deal for the management of a state-owned hotel, with Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, noting that the hotel chain is experienced in managing resorts on black sand beaches.

The Marriot Hotel will be constructed at Mt Wynne, on the western coast of St. Vincent, 11 miles from Kingstown and 22 miles from Argyle International Airport.

The Ralph Gonsalves government has borrowed US$50 million to build the 250-room hotel, which will be located on the sea front of a former plantation, in an area characterised by gently sloping fertile lands.

It will employ 250 to 300 persons, who Bojan Kumer, Marriott International’s vice president for hotel development — Caribbean and Latin America, said will have a tremendous opportunity to grow their professional careers and employ the world.

Members of the head table at Tuesday’s event. From left: Minister of Tourism, Cecil “Ces” McKie; Hans King (partly hidden), manager of National Properties Ltd.; Bojan Kumer, Marriott International’s vice president for hotel development — Caribbean and Latin America; Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Sustainable Development, Camillo Gonsalves; Pastor Noel Clarke. (Photo: Discover SVG/Facebook)

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, told the ceremony at Mt Wynne, that the signing was two and a half years in the making.

“On this beautiful spot, in a couple years’ time, you are going to have one of the most spectacular resorts anywhere in the Caribbean bearing the Marriott brand,” he said of the hotel, which is expected to open in 2022, following the beginning of construction later this year.

He noted that over the past 30 years, governments have tried to woo hotel investors to Mt Wynne, adding that the lack of an international airport was a major impediment, as were other infrastructural challenges.

“… and tepid interest, to be frank, from investors 20 years ago and 25 years ago. And, in many cases, the absence of a credible developmental proposal that conformed with what the government felt this particular site deserved.”

Gonsalves, however, said that the opening of Argyle International Airport — in February 2017 — opened a window of opportunity “to not only revisit the idea of mass tourism development on St. Vincent but to establish the mainland as a new and dynamic player in the hospitality space across the Caribbean”.

Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves addressing Tuesday’s signing ceremony. (Photo: Discover SVG/Facebook)

He said that his government 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.”

The government wanted the hotel to be “sufficiently ambitious and noteworthy” so as to draw the attention of not only tourists but also potential developers to SVG.

The finance minister said that even as the government indicated its plan to build a 250-room hotel at Mt Wynne, it realised very early that it is not an hotelier.

The site at Mt Wynne, where the hotel will be built. (Photo: Discover SVG/Facebook)

Gonsalves said the government then decided to discuss with Marriott a management contract, “something in which they are coming in to lend us their experience, to lend their talent, to lend their expertise to the running of the facility”.

He said given “the limited availability of local skill, their non-experience in running a large hotel, the lack of an operation team and the government’s reluctance to engage in hotel management, the realisation that franchising and credibility would be easier with a strong brand in SVG’s corner, and the need for access to a major company’s development, design and operations support, the government chose to go with the legal arrangement that they took seven months to negotiate”.

The finance minister said that persons came to the country and said the location was good but they would have to replace the natural sand with white sand.

A man kayaks at Mt Wynne during Tuesday’s event. (Photo: Discover SVG/Facebook)

He said the government rejected the idea, saying they cannot market the natural, sustainable, environmentally conscious site if the natural sand is replaced.

“And Marriott has their own view and we appreciate that view and that experience,” he said.

“This is tremendously exciting for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the development of our people and our country…

“The Marriott International is one of the largest hotels chains in the world, it has a proven track record, …  it has a record of quality that is undisputed, it has a global reservation system, it has a in-built market of [millions of] Bonvoy members, that’s their sort of frequent flyers club, who will want to use their frequent stay points at new hotel, at new locations and they have a marketing system in place to market not only to their Bonvoy members but to market internationally, the new hotel and destination.”

Gonsalves said the Mt Wynne Marriot will be a jewel in the crown of Vincentian and Caribbean tourism.

“It is a declaration of intent that St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be a major unique sustainable player in the hospitality industry and it will be a catalyst for tourism and hospitality services across this country.

“I could not be happier to here today and I want us all to join in welcoming Bojan and Marriott International to the shores of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the finance minister said. 

Hans King, general manager of National Properties

Ltd., a state-owned company signed on behalf of the government, while Kumer signed on behalf of Marriott.

A section of the audience at Tuesday’s event. (Photo: Discover SVG/Facebook)

King said:

“… today, it really gives me great pleasure that we are here, that we are going to sign this agreement between National Properties Ltd. that represents the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in this project and Marriott international.”

Meanwhile, Kumer said the hotel should set, actually, the new standard for all future developments in St. Vincent.

Speaking at the same ceremony, head of the SVG Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, said that the black sand beach was a point of discussion during the negotiations.

“…in the discussions with Marriott, and this is something we were all looking at, they made it clear, they said listen, we have hotels all around the world and we’ve managed properties that have black sand beaches.

“Because there was this worry that the black sand beach would be removed and we would be placing white sand over it. And they assured us that they would keep the black sand beach because they know how to manage it. They have that experience. And that was one of the great things I appreciate about it…” Beache said.

6 replies on “Gov’t, Marriott ink deal for running hotel at Mt Wynne”

  1. NO to mass tourism! says:

    I think Baby Doc said “FINANCING and credibility would be easier” not franchising. He kept saying the hotel is not a franchise. He also didn’t say what we Vincentians are paying for Marriotts experience.

  2. There are lots more not being said about this deal. I notice no mention was made about Vincentians getting jobs at the hotel. Marriot seems to be bringing in their people to work at the hotel because Camillo mention “the limited availability of local skill, their non-experience in running a large hotel” indicates Vincentians are not at the table. There is enough time for Marriot to send Vincentians to some of its resorts for training, so there will be qualified Vincy to work at the resort in SVG.
    There are no transparent advantages to Vincentians for the money SVG is investing. Marriott’s people have to be paid from money collected at the resort and probably from tax dollars. I haven’t seen any advantages for the Vincentian people in this plan.
    I am sure Marriot will bring in its chefs and probably import food stuff. Is there a way for the farmers to get involved by planting foodstuff that can be used at the resort? Is there a plan to utilize the fish industry, poultry industry and the farming industry instead of importing chicken, pork and beef from abroad? Vincentians can start now to prepare for the opening in 2022 or thereafter. There is lots of time for Saboto to get off his arse and start doing something.

  3. What is the norm in the hotel industry, who normally owns the real estate?
    Would the franchise agreement embrace a return on investment to recoup the initial capital cost?
    How would and how often would the Government provide accounts to the Vincentian public? Would there be a corporate boards of Vincentian citizens and how would the selection be done?

  4. Most of the Rhetoric was used before by the government when Harlequin were telling us Buccament was the only 6 star hotel in the Caribbean. In the end it proved the only part of it which was 6 star was the rip off, it was a six star rip off.

    Certainly the first 6 shed like villas were furnished with horrible furnishings and the contractor got in excess of a million dollars to fit them out with flat pack furniture.

    The wife of a Vincentian minister went to the UK for the sales launch and convinced dozens of investors to buy into the project. Almost all who took that advice lost everything they invested and more. Many of those investors were pensioners who re-mortgaged their UK property and lost their life savings.

  5. Elma usually the Hotel Group will supply all furnishings and fittings. Then an arrangement would be made whereby the hotel group would be the operator and the government will be the freeholder and lessor and the group the lessee.

    There is another format where by the government builds the hotel and pays for the furnishings and fittings. which will be supplied or purchased from designated Marriot supplier’s and the group operate on a management basis. Marriot began this type of venture in 2016 “Managed by Marriott” (MxM) under an agreement between the owner/developer of a property the hotel management company. The owner/developer usually retains the financial and legal responsibility for the property, and the management company receives an agreed-upon fee for operating the hotel. There are several variations on the preceding procedures.

    These procedures are usually used for existing hotels, not hotels built for the purpose..

    Either of these models tells us that a Hotel Group were not willing to sink their own money into such a venture. If the location was great there would have been a line of hotel groups vying for the opportunity to buy the land and build.

    Its good that its Marriot who is a great company and have their own following of clients to help fill the rooms.

    Anything less may have made it difficult to fill the rooms because of SVG’s bad record of clients losing their money, such as at Buccament. It was not just the operators, Harlequin, who got a bad name but also the Government of SVG, who made bad choices and were part of the cause that so many people lost money there.

    We must not forget the existing sterling hotel operation’s at SVGs premier white sand beach at Villa.

  6. Jolly Green; Given that it is government funded, to be transparent; the nation should know whether or not a risk assessment was done and if so, should be made available for scrutiny. The idea that, if you have the population on board it augurs well for future investment of that kind.

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