More hotel rooms doesn't mean more tourists

  • Posted by Marina Vatav
  • September 28, 2014 8:42 AM EDT
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Every morning, Ronald Maidens, the General Manager of the Best Western Premier Petion-Ville, one of the luxury hotels in Port-au-Prince area, personally touches base with each employee of his hotel to make sure they are motivated, happy, and that they have the necessary tools to do their jobs. According to him, as a Hotel Manager, you have to take good care of your guests, as well as your employees who service your guests.

Maidens says that since the hotel’s opening in 2012, the Best Western Premier Petion-Ville has always had a good occupancy rate, offered top-level service, and has built a loyal customer base. Now with a growing number of high-end hotel rooms in the Port-au-Prince area, he is concerned that the increased supply of these room types will become higher than the demand.

"I am concerned because they don't have enough flow coming to Haiti to fill those rooms. That's a concern that I have and that a lot of hoteliers probably have too," said Maidens.

Along with the Best Western Premier in 2012-2013 the Royal Oasis Hotel also opened its doors, followed by the expansion of the Karibe hotel that added 100 rooms, and the Kinam Hotel with 180 rooms. The opening of a Marriott hotel is coming up in February with 175 rooms, and Hilton recently broke grounds to build a 150-room hotel.

"Now with the upcoming hotels, it's hard to maintain our customers that we currently have and making sure we don't lose to the competition, which is accepted to a degree, but that is a big challenge," noted Maidens.

Don't feel the increase in the corporate tourists in Port-au-Prince

The Haitian government has announced that last year there was a 20% increase in the number of visitors arriving at Haitian airports comparing to the previous year. However, according to the Best Western Premier Manager the higher-end hotels did not necessarily feel the increase to their customer base.

"There were some numbers that came up, but we have to remember that the people that come to Haiti don't necessarily come to Port-au-Prince. We have Jacmel, we have Cap-Haitien, Ile-a-Vache, we have a few other places that people could be going to, but here in Port-au-Prince we don't necessarily feel it," noted Maidens.

Best Western Premier is one of the first high-end hotels in Port-au-Prince area. Its investors jumped on the opportunity and took the chance when there was little competition on the market, and it paid off. Now with more and more luxury hotels opening, they are hesitating about investing in expanding their hotel at present.

Haiti presents opportunity

With all the risk associated with running a business in Haiti, Maidens believes that the country presents opportunity.

"There are great opportunities. There is money here in Haiti," said Maidens.

"The political situation has always been on people's minds. The history of Haiti hasn't been very helpful, that's still in people’s minds to a degree. The current political group that we have running Haiti is pretty stable, they're doing quite well, they're attracting people to come to Haiti. Let's hope they'll continue," added Maidens.

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