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Normally, we tend to think, it’s easy. Independent, locally-owned hotel: good. Big, nasty, advantage-taking chain: bad.
But not in the case of the Marriott Port-au-Prince, the first international brand to reach Haiti, which opens March 1. It’s not just a chain hotel, but a collaboration between Marriott, the Clinton Foundation and Digicel Group, and it “aims to bring sustainability to the people of Haiti”.
Those are big words, but they’re backed up by fairly big actions. Staff are predominantly Haitian, and local businesses are providing everything from bathroom amenities and food (even the coffee) to the artwork displayed in the hotel, and even some of the “design elements” (or “furnishings”, as we assume we should call them).
For the first time in a long time, the people of Haiti, and in particularly the city of Port-au-Prince, have something to be excited about. After the devastating 7.0 earthquake of January 2010 which killed 316,000 people, left a million homeless and all but decimated the country's economy, Marriott Hotels has announced they will operate a new 173-room hotel in Port-au-Prince (which currently only has 500 hotels room in total), adding 175 new jobs to the economy.
The project is being developed by Digicel Group Ltd. but both Marriott and The Clinton Foundation worked together to bring the hotel to fruition. In fact, President Bill Clinton made the announcement himself last night.
“This new hotel project will stand as a symbol of Haiti’s recovery, providing much needed jobs to the Haitian people and encouraging foreigners to visit, invest and work in Port-au-Prince," said President Clinton. "My Foundation has worked with both Marriott and Digicel, and encouraged them to form this partnership. Their investment proves that Haiti is open for business and on the path to economic recovery."
Yesterday afternoon, Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, was devastated by an enormous earthquake that's been estimated to be about a 7.0 on the Richter Scale. Thousands are feared dead, buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings and houses.
As the country continues the rescue effort, reports are trickling in about significant damages and losses. One of those reports include the popular tourist hotel, Hotel Montana, located in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Reports say that at the time of the earthquake 300 people were inside but yet only 100 made it out alive after the building collapsed.
The hotel's website describes its location as "far from the turbulence of the city, in the hills of Port-au-Prince, Hotel Montana is just ten minutes from all the shops, art galleries and restaurants of Pétion-Ville."