Government yesterday afternoon turned the sod for the construction of a US$75M, 150-room Marriott-branded hotel with officials announcing that world-renowned Hilton is coming too.
In fact, says Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Colvin Heath-London, another groundbreaking event is scheduled next week right in the Ogle, East Coast Demerara area.
He did not disclose much details.
This week, NICIL surprised the nation with an announcement that it has signed an agreement with Trinidadian, John Aboud, for the construction of a 150-room AC Marriot Hotel.
The construction is expected to last 30 months and would see in excess of 150 permanent employees when completed.
The announcement had raised questions with the Opposition pointing to the nearness of general elections, which is slated on March 2.
Yesterday, NICIL’s Business Development Officer, Racheal Henry, said that the land at Ogle was sold to the developer, Trinuyana Investments Inc., for more than $26M per acre.
The developer was reportedly sold around 2.6 acres. It is located about 300 yards in the cane fields from the turnoff that leads to the Ogle airport terminal, and in the direction of the old headquarters of the Guyana Sugar Corporation.
The land was once under sugar cultivation but was vested in NICIL back in 2017.
According to Henry, government officials evaluated the lands and what it was sold for was above market price.
Heath-London said that it is the plan by the developer to eventually place shares in the open market so that Guyanese can buy.
Currently, John Aboud, whose partners managed over two million square feet of real estate in Trinidad and elsewhere, is building an AC Marriott hotel there.
AC Marriott is said to be a subsidiary brand of Marriot International. Guyana has a Marriott-branded hotel at Kingston.
According to the CEO of NICIL, in 2017, advertisements went out for developers of lands on the East Coast and one of them was from Aboud, who is a well-known businessman in Trinidad.
A formal agreement has been signed.
According to Henry, NICIL is confident that it has done its due diligence and confident that a Marriot-branded hotel is coming.
NICIL did not deal directly with Marriott International officials on the project but with the developer.
The hotel would benefit from a highway that would link the East Bank Demerara from Ogle.
Aboud, said to be a Syrian, who made Trinidad his home. There are applications in for the normal duty free concessions on equipment and building materials and on income tax…These are normal across the region, he stressed. The businessman is not worried about the coming elections.
“I have no interest in politics. Did I do something wrong? I hope after elections, Guyana would be here. I have absolutely no interest in politics…that is not my business.”
Asked how advanced his relationship was with getting permission from Marriott, Aboud said that he has a Letter of Intent signed with the details of payments and other fees being worked out at the moment.
He has also submitted applications to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Currently, Trinuyana is awaiting the geo-technical tests to determine what structure will have to be built.
Aboud said he has been around five years, doing other business, including security, in Guyana.
He said that he leads a group of investors, which manages investments from Florida, Trinidad and now in Guyana. It involves two millions square feet of real estate.
“Our expertise ranges from office buildings to retail shopping malls, industrial parks, special purpose buildings and more recently a Marriot-hotel in Trinidad.
Also he said they run a world class amusement and water park in the Twin Island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago slated to be opened in the middle of the month.”
He said it was not difficult to identify Guyana as a country that has possibilities not only because of oil and gas, but the recent development in natural resources in mining, agricultural and tourism.
He said that Trinuyana would be the vehicle for further investments with the possibilities of even selling shares to Guyanese.
“…for which we’re proud of and it is our intention as the projects evolve to invite Guyanese nationals to participate in these projects.”
Aboud said that his group recently floated an IPO (Initial public offering) in Trinidad, a clear demonstration.
The AC Marriott at Ogle will see, in addition to 150 rooms, 20,000 square feet of office and retail space.
He is promising about 150-plus persons during the construction phase and more than 140 permanent workers.
It is the intention to transfer skills and technology and for Guyanese to do the construction.
Eventually, there will be no more than five expatriates working on the hotel…the rest will be locals.
During his presentation, Heath-London told invitees, which included the private sector and Minister of Business, Haimraj Rajkumar, that NICIL’s role has been evolving.
“NICIL is the vanguard of luring investors into Guyana and next week, there will be a similar ceremony held for another state-of-the-art hotel to be built in Guyana. Some 300 temporary and 175 permanent jobs will be created when that other project is launched next week at this very Ogle area.”
Also lauding the AC Marriot project was President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, Clinton Williams, and Minister Rajkumar who both noted the positive future impact on the number of hotel rooms.
Currently, Marriott in Kingston is filled to capacity mainly because of the oil and gas.
Other hotels have been reporting brisk business with ExxonMobil currently building a headquarters right in Ogle, not far from the site of the AC Marriot is located.
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