Another U.S. brand hotel is headed to Haiti.
Hilton Worldwide will bring a 152-room, mid-priced hotel to Haiti’s capital, the chain and a local Haitian investment group announced this week.
The new Hilton Garden Inn would be the third U.S. brand — after the 106-room Best Western Premier, and still under construction 175-room Marriott –and the fifth internationally branded hotel. Spanish Occidental operates the 128-room Royal Oasis, and NH Hoteles runs the 72-room El Rancho.
And while most of the other brands, with the exception of the Marriott near downtown, are located in suburban Petionville, the Hilton Garden is being built near the international airport next to the existing 43-room Visa Lodge. Visa Lodge is owned and operated by the locally based Carvonis family.
“This is a dream come true, a dream my husband started as a vision when we bought Visa Lodge and today it is becoming a reality,” said hotelier Dominique Carvonis, who heads the Haitian hotel investment group that will build the $26 million, 11-story Hilton hotel.
Carvonis said she likes to think of her new hotel in firsts.
“We will be the first Hilton Garden in the Caribbean. This is also the first time Hilton will be in Haiti, and this will be the first hotel in this price category in the area of the airport. So we are first, three times.”
Hilton officials say they are thrilled about moving into Haiti, which in the last year has welcomed increased tourism arrival numbers and flights from JetBlue.
“With the brand’s value proposition and the hotel’s strategic location, we are confident the Hilton Garden Inn Port-au-Prince Louverture Airport will be a successful partner in the nation’s capital and commercial hub,” said Danny Hughes, senior vice president, Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America, Hilton Worldwide said.
The discussions with Hilton began soon after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. Since then, Carvonis said, there have been “very positive pointers that tell us that the situation is getting better. There have been increases in arrivals and it’s happening at a time when there are no particular issues in Haiti.”
She dismisses concerns that Haiti, which lost hundreds of hotel rooms in the quake, may now have too many hotel rooms in its capital, where vacancies rates have been high.
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe credited the government for paving the way for the investment.
“The country is safer than before and it proves to the world that Haiti has become a better place to do business,” said Lamothe. “We expect a lot more investors such as Hilton Worldwide.”
Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin said Hilton’s addition to the tourism landscape will further showcase Haiti as a destination and makes the country “more attractive for the business travelers.”
“It proves once more that Haiti is open for business and tourism leads the way,” she said.
Carvonis said investors were looking to open the hotel in the third quarter of 2016 but at the request of President Michel Martelly, they are now aiming for May 2016. Martelly, elected to a five-year presidential term in 2011, is scheduled to hand over power to a new president that month. ___