Welcome to the Marriott: Your all inclusive Haiti experience

Tourism in Haiti is on the rise once more.  The country has made it to the top of many “Must Visit” lists for 2015 and is once again beginning to attract a number of travelers drawn in by Haiti’s unique art, music, history and landscape.

As part of Haiti’s Tourism push, the Hotel Marriott opened its doors in Port au Prince on February 24, 2015.

The Irish mobile phone company Digicel invested $45 million as part of a partnership between the Clinton Foundation in Haiti and top Marriott executives to make the construction of the hotel possible.

Peter Antinoph, the general manager of the Port au Prince Marriott described the corporation’s vision for the new hotel: “It’s a giant corporate social responsibility project…We’re looking to see how much we can support the society around our hotel.”

Photo Credit: Marriott Port au Prince Hotel

They are starting by sourcing as many of the needed resources for hotel operations locally.  This includes such items as soap from a small local women’s business operative, chicken from a farm just outside of Port au Prince, and tilapia from a local fishery for the onsite restaurant.

The hotel has also opted to feature Haiti’s Rebo Coffee in lieu of the standard Starbucks franchise.

In efforts to support local jobs, the hotel franchise also claims to have given priority to those in need of work over past experience or skill set during the hiring process.  Antinoph has further stated that the luxury hotel recognizes its role as a “teaching hotel”, and that they are ready and willing to embrace the challenges that come with hiring undertrained staff.  You can read more about the hotel’s social initiatives here.

While this all sounds good, only time will tell what this high-end hotel really brings to the area.

Another concern is that while the new Marriott serves a purpose for those visiting Haiti for diplomatic or business related reasons, tourists looking to get the most out of Haiti might not be sold on the idea of staying in a chain hotel.

In her article: Haiti Tourism: Challenging, But Charming to Some, Aid.Works founder Emily Troutman writes:

“It’s a nice idea, but most true tourists… don’t see the Marriott as a good starting place.  True tourists are reticent to stay in big hotels with generic fournishings and windows that wont open.  It runs contrary to the cultural Caribbean experience they were promised.”

Despite efforts to enshrine “the spirit of the country” within the walls of this 4 star hotel, it remains to be seen if guests will be fully satisfied with the Haitian-made artwork lining the corridors and the once a week on-site market inviting Haitian artisans to sell their atizana ayisyen, or if they’re bound to leave wishing for more from their experience in Ayiti.

What do you think?  Would you stay at the Marriott in Port au Prince?

by Erin Nguyen on April 2, 2015

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