New hotel offers rare sign of new construction in Haiti
By Susana Ferreira
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - The opening of the upscale Royal Oasis Hotel in Haiti on Wednesday ushered in a new phase in the country's post-earthquake reconstruction, while providing a sharp contrast to the plight of hundreds of thousands still homeless almost three years after the disaster.
The elite Oasis hotel in Petionville, a business and social hub in the hills south of Port-au-Prince, is part of the Occidental hotel chain and is the first in a string of international brand-name hotels opening in the coming months.
A Best Western Premier is scheduled to open its doors in January, and the newly reincarnated El Rancho is set to follow in February under the management of the Spanish group NH Hoteles.
A Marriott hotel, opening in partnership with telecom service provider Digicel, will have its official groundbreaking next week in downtown Port-au-Prince, and Comfort Inn is already in the process of taking over management of an existing hotel in the southern tourist city of Jacmel.
The Oasis boasts 128 rooms and suites, restaurants, retail shops and a conference center. An evening in the Royal Club Presidential Suite will set you back well over $1,000, with butler service included.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in January 2010 that killed an estimated 250,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless.
Some 358,000 earthquake victims were still living in camps and makeshift settlements as of October 2012, according to the most recent survey by the International Organization for Migration.
The Oasis by Occidental is the first international hospitality brand to operate in the troubled country in years, a faint echo of Haiti's heyday in the 1950s and 1960s when the Caribbean island was a hip destination for international celebrities. Continued...