Words by Chelcie Porter
Marriott Port au Prince just opened its door earlier this month and already is getting praised on Trip Advisor as friendly, comfortable and beautiful. The Clinton Foundation has had a great deal of interest in Haiti even before the 2010 earthquake. Now the attention is needed more than ever as Haiti continues to struggle to recover. Tens of thousands of people remain homeless and in displacement camps. Most funding sources have pulled out, yet the Clinton Foundation’s support has remained constant. Telecom provider Digicell has partnered with the Clinton Foundation to restore economic development and provide a luxury experience.
Aimed largely at business travelers, the Marriott officially began welcoming guests March 1, 2015. It took 1,000 Haitian construction workers to build the 11 story structure. The $45 million hotel is beautifully designed with all of the modern accessories you would expect of Marriott, including a Haitian art collection of over 1600 pieces by Haitian artists, curated by Philippe Dodard. With 175 rooms the Marriott will assist in solving the accommodation shortage problem international businesses face in traveling to the country. Guests can expect Marriott’s signature amenities, including: premium bedding, high-speed Internet and flat-screen televisions and 24-hour room service. La Sirene Restaurant provides guests with a casual dining atmosphere, a private dining area and La Sirene Bar for evening cocktails. The property has a fitness center, swimming pool, gift shop, Wi-Fi and secure parking. The hotel’s meeting rooms can accommodate 380-500 people.
According to Marriott’s recent newsletter, they have gone through extreme lengths to keep the staffing as local and beneficial to Haiti as possible. Digicell has employed an entire team of Haitian-American executives. Young Haitians from disadvantaged backgrounds have been given a chance to prove themselves despite the challenges they may face. In the poorest neighborhoods in Haiti, homelessness and hunger are still very much pressing issues. New employees have attended various internships and training classes in preparation for the hotel’s debut.
TOMs Shoe Company has gotten involved and become a supplier of the shoes for the hotel staff. In addition, TOMs supplies shoes in Haiti under its business model to help establish a socially responsible shoe industry. Guests of the Marriott Port au Prince will be able to have fresh coffee each morning from Rebo coffee, which works to provide fair trade coffee and employs several hundred women. Produce for the hotel is being purchased from local farmers of the Afe Neg Combite, a co-op supporting 5,500 farmers and over 8,000 employees. Even the soaps and amenities in the guest rooms are from Ayiti Natives, a local woman-owned health and beauty line.
The new hotel has added solar energy to reduce its environmental footprint. Each week, Marriott plans to hold market schowcasing local artisans. Having opened over 150 schools in Haiti, Digicell is committed to seeing the country restored and thriving. Hilton has announced that they are building a new hotel in Port au Prince near the Airport in 2016. With Marriott setting the bar very high, international businesses want to invest in Haiti with the same socially responsible business practices. The hotel will celebrate a formal grand opening in June.