[Trinidad Guardian] T&T businesses are pumping hundreds of millions of US dollars into Guyana and the investments are not just in the energy sector.
At least two branded hotels are to be constructed in the South American country and would add at least 300 quality rooms to the co-operative republic.
An AC Marriott and a Hyatt Place are being developed by investors led by John Aboud and businessman Imtiaz Ahamad. Both hotels are expected to be completed by 2024.
Another Trinidadian investor, Jerry Narace the Business Guardian confirmed, has submitted a successful bid to a Request for Proposal for another hotel. However, details concerning that development have not yet emerged.
Last month, the sod was turned for the AC Marriott at Ogle in an area formerly populated with sugar estate lands on the East Coast of Demerara.
Superior Hotels Ltd signed on to undertake the project which will see that area transformed into a 160 room hotel.
“Superior Hotels is in the hotel development business,” said Superior Hotels Chairman John Aboud when contacted about the development.
He explained Guyana’s enthusiasm was encouraging as the company looked to expand its development of Marriott branded hotels. In February the group opened The Brix Autograph collection, another Marriott branded hotel while plans were also made for a Marriott hotel at Rocky Point in Tobago.
Aboud explained Guyana served up an opportunity to further expand the group’s partnership with the Marriott.
“Yes this is a continuation (of that partnership) but it’s two different flags. The Brix is the Autograph Collection. And the Marriott in Guyana is the AC collection. They’re both Marriott hotels. They’re both Marriott flags, but you know, they are little idiosyncrasies and variations between each Marriott brand, but they’re both Marriott hotels,” he said.
Guyana’s economic rise driven by massive oil and gas discoveries proved attractive to the group as well.
“Guyana showed up as a great opportunity with the development that is going on in Guyana. The government there has been promoting hotel investment. So we went, we had a look at that, we had a good feel for the place based on the anticipation of growth in Guyana and the government has been very proactive and supportive, so we took the decision to do a hotel there,” Aboud told the Business Guardian.
Work on the project is only about a month along. It was only last month Aboud spoke at the sod turning for the hotel. However, he estimated the South American state should be able to welcome guests by the last quarter of 2024.
“The project has started, development has started, there’s a certain amount of infrastructure that has to be done before actual steel goes up in the air, so that work has started about a month ago and we expect to have the hotel ready in 27 months,” he said.
Aboud confirmed the group had invested US$45million into the project. He said building a hotel in Guyana will be a little different than previous work done in T&T but he was optimistic about the project.
“Guyana will be a little bit more challenging because obviously you know we are not there but you know we have engaged professionals on the ground to manage the day-to-day activity, but other than the fact that it’s fairly new and we’re not familiar, but we are getting familiar. There really is no difference, it’s the same thing,” he said, “Both governments have been accommodating. So I really have no complaints about that. The actual logistics in Guyana, we’ll have to wait and see because it is still early days, but a lot of action is going on in Guyana.”
He recognised however that there were quite a few hotel developments being done in the South American country, and as a result supply issues could emerge.
“I’m just hoping that there aren’t many bottlenecks in this and the process, but because, as you know, Guyana is on a vertical trajectory, so to speak. So I suspect there will be some bottlenecks in the system with supplies etc. But we’ll have to wait and see. I’m not sure if that is going to be the case but if there is we’re going to mitigate against it. It’s all in the planning.”
Imitiaz Ahamad, owner of Southern Sales, and, with Arthur Lok Jack once the largest shareholders of Guardian Holdings, confirmed that he was part of a group called SIR investment Guyana that would be responsible for a brand new 136-room Hyatt Place, set to be located in Providence.
“We expect that the main contractor should break ground around October or November,” said Ahamad who explained the development was awaiting one outstanding approval.
He said he expected the hotel to be completed by the first quarter of 2024.
Ahamad explained the decision to invest in a hotel in Guyana was born out of a search for new opportunities.
“We were exploring opportunities for diversification and really exploiting those opportunities. Guyana was on the radar, and more or less around the same time there was an invitation by the government for opportunities in the hotel sector,” he said.
Ahamad acknowledged the new industry was a challenging one to enter, but he explained the investment was done after careful considerations and research.
“I looked at it. It’s not an easy business to be successful in. I agree with that statement. Therefore one would have to as an investor, engage in feasibility studies. You have to give yourself that opportunity to study and review the feasibility studies to make sure the opportunities that present give you enough encouragement to get into that tourism business in that climate and in that country,” he said.
Guyana pushed significantly for the expansion of its tourism sector amid its economic boost courtesy its burgeoning energy sector.
During the sod-turning ceremony for the AC Marriott, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali stressed that the development of Guyana’s tourism sector was part of the government’s sustainability plan for the future.
In the past month sod was also turned for two other large hotels; the 13-storey Pasha Global Hotel at Liliendaal which is set to have 200 rooms and the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel which is set to bring 172 rooms to Houston, Guyana.
The Four Points Hotel is to be completed by the first quarter of 2024, while the Pasha Global is expected to have 150 of its rooms available in that year, but will officially have all 500 rooms available by 2025.