First Marriott hotel opens in Haiti amid fanfare

Haiti got a boost this week as a brand new Marriott in the heart of the capital opened. The 175-room hotel opened with former U.S. President Bill Clinton on hand, as well as Haitian President Michel Martelly. The $45-million project is a collaboration between Marriott International and Digicel, a global telecom company.

"If you look in Europe today, there’s instability in Greece," Denis O’Brien, Digicel's Irish chairman and founder, said, as reported by Reuters. "There has been some riots here over the last weeks but that’s not going to put people off from coming to Haiti because they know that’s just demonstrations against the government."

"If you’re an investor, you do not look at some of the obstacles like electricity or riots, you look at the opportunities here ... agriculture, tourism and light manufacturing," he added.

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Craig Smith, Marriott's president for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, "What was complicated was to bring the right materials. In developing countries, the first 90 percent of the construction is done quickly, the last 10 percent takes almost as much time."

Addressing the new staff, Clinton said: "You have the chance to show the real Haiti to everyone coming to this hotel. If everyone knew this country as Denis O’Brien and I know it ... people would be flooding here every day."

According to the Ministry of Tourism about half of the capital's roughly 1,600 hotel rooms were lost in a Jan. 2010 earthquake.

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