|By Derrick Scott, Caribbean News Now,
Grand Cayman, Cayman IslandsMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 13, 2012--WASHINGTON -- Jamaica's ambassador to the United States, in the latest bid to help boost her country's hotel room offerings, has approached the Marriott International chairman and CEO to consider Jamaica as a viable option for some of its high-end hotels.
Ambassador Audrey Marks made her pitch while on a courtesy call last week to see the Marriott chairman, Bill Marriott Jr, at the Marriott headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.
First, Marks expressed appreciation to the Marriott corporation with regard to its current plans to build a Courtyard Marriot in New Kingston, and Marriot International's vice president, senior counsel and corporate secretary, Brancroft Gordon, who was also in attendance, confirmed that Marriott had signed the agreement to develop a Courtyard property in New Kingston, scheduled to open in 2014.
In her response, Marks shared that she had also recently become aware of plans by Marriott International to expand its presence in the global marketplace by constructing over 600 new hotels over the next ten years, and wanted by her visit to request that "Jamaica will be favorably considered for an increased number of your branded properties."
During the courtesy call, the ambassador briefed Marriott on plans that would enhance Jamaica's tourist industry and boost the country's occupancy levels, including in Kingston, and suggested looking at more locations in Kingston, specifically in downtown Kingston or close to the Norman Manley International airport as a participant in the government's downtown redevelopment thrust.
She also highlighted plans to attract more higher-end visitors to the island. She cited the Harmony Cove Development in Trelawny, potential developments in Negril and Port Antonio as viable investment opportunities in which the Marriott Corporation could participate particularly with their higher end brands, namely the Waldorf and J.W. Marriott chains.
Responding to this, Marriott spoke of his admiration for Jamaica and its people, as well as for the great contribution the country had made to the hospitality industry in general. He indicated that he would seriously consider the ambassador's request to further expand the Marriott brand to Jamaica.
Marks also used the occasion to praise Marriott for his more than 50 years of stewardship, innovation and excellence that established the Marriott brand as a most successful global player in the hospitality industry.
(c)2012 the Caribbean News Now (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands)
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