After a massive 7.0 earthquake (and more than fifty aftershocks) demolished much of Haiti and turned hundreds of thousands of residents into little more than refugees nearly two years ago, some feared that the island nation might not be able to get back on its feet any time soon. With somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000-300,000 believed dead (and just as many injured), anywhere from 1-2 million displaced, and several hundred thousand buildings destroyed or damaged to the point of being uninhabitable, the people of this once booming tourist destination were facing a massive rebuilding effort that would cost billions of dollars and take years to complete. In short, things were looking bleak. But thanks to an international outpouring of relief efforts from nations around the world, the country began to clear the rubble, set up tent cities for those who had lost their homes, and rebuild.
Although efforts have been slow to take effect and remain ongoing, it seems that people are still interested in visiting this gorgeous tropical locale, because Marriott International has decided to open their first ever resort hotel in Haiti, in the town of Port-au-Prince, which was located near the epicenter and suffered devastating damage. This is great news for the Haitian economy, which is still struggling to rebound. The once prosperous nation, which was noted for receiving more than its fair share of tourist dollars amongst Caribbean competitors, may soon be thriving again if this resort does well and other hospitality chains decide to follow suit.
For the company’s part, they have been involved in relief efforts since the quake occurred in January of 2010. They not only made donations of necessities like water, food, clothing, and so on, they also contributed to rebuilding efforts for infrastructure (schools, orphanages) as well as private homes. And they have made monetary donations, as well, with $500,000 from the J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation going towards Red Cross relief efforts (in addition to monies raised by individual hotels). So really, this is just the next logical step in the company’s ongoing endeavors to help the people of Haiti get back on their feet.
Of course, Marriott stands to get something in the bargain. Not only have they garnered public goodwill for their efforts, likely increasing patronage and improving their brand image, but their resort will be the newest and most stable structure in the area, making it the ideal choice for tourists looking to return to the once-popular destination. And visitors won’t be disappointed. The hotel will have 173 guest rooms and include amenities like meeting rooms, a fitness center, a pool, a restaurant (plus round-the-clock room service), a bar/lounge, and even a market. And with an estimated price tag of $45 million, it will likely be a pretty ritzy affair. In other words, anyone paying with a bad credit credit card need not book a room.
Marriott isn’t set to break ground on the project until next year and they don’t expect to be open to the public until the middle of 2014. But in the meantime they’ll be providing jobs for local builders, not to mention hiring and training staff for the large resort. So even though they’ll eventually profit from the enterprise, at the moment they’re still doing a lot to boost the local economy, a trend that will continue when they open their doors to the tourist dollars that will really help Haiti recover.