LOCAL contractor, NH International (Caribbean) Ltd, last week signed a contract with the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to build a Holiday Inn Express hotel in the village of Diamond.
Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves signed on behalf of his government, while NH International CEO Kit Kennedy signed on behalf of his company.
The contract calls for the construction of a 92-room hotel at a cost of EC$52 million (US$19.2 million) on the site, which is located on the windward side of the island, about ten minutes drive from Argyle International Airport.
The construction will be funded in part by a grant from the Caricom Development Fund, with additional funding from St. Vincent’s National Insurance Services and local funds, the country’s Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves said during the June 7 signing ceremony.
“The government is adding approximately 350 rooms to the hotel room base over the next two years,” Gonsalves said in a report by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). He referred to the construction of the state-funded Marriott Hotel at Mt Wynne, which would have 250 rooms, as part of St Vincent’s efforts to increase the hotel room base and develop the tourism sector.
“The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is not interested in being a hotelier, so we are not going to create a ministry of hotel operations. The Holiday Inn Express will be professionally run, not by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and we will remain open to what happens to the hotel once we add to St. Vincent’s room inventory. -Vincent and the Grenadines and likewise the Marriott will be a professionally managed property.
“So I just wanted to point out that our interest, from a political point of view, is to add room stock to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. We are doing part of this through our own resources as We are doing part of that by attracting investment from Sandals, Royal Mill, Maya Suites, La Vue Hotel, PACE – the Black Sands Resorts and all the rest,” the finance minister said in the CMC report.
Gonsalves said at the signing ceremony in Kingstown that the country “climbed the mountain of air access” with the opening of Argyle International Airport five years ago.
The Vincentian finance minister said that in the absence of an international airport, the hotels that developed were small, “essentially, a flight from LIAT could fill them”.
But he said the country now needed to have ‘different layers and different levels of hotels’ and the government recognized ‘we need to have a stock of rooms close to the airport at a particular price point’.
In his brief comments during the signing ceremony, Kennedy, emphasized his company values and his intention to be a true Caribbean entity.
In an article in Asbert News Network, Kennedy said NH International’s aspiration was to be a regional entity. This aspiration is boosted by the construction company’s flagship internship program, which gives young engineers from across the region the opportunity to develop and grow through training and knowledge transfer.
Construction of the hotel is due to begin June 20, 2022, is expected to take 18 months and will employ around 120 workers at peak.