Hotel’s Success Reflects Haiti’s Return To Leisure Travel Itineraries
The Marriott in Port au Prince (Photo by Brian Major)
Is it possible one hotel can symbolize an entire country’s tourism turnaround?
Haiti has undergone a virtual rebirth as a leisure travel destination in recent years, and while the Caribbean nation offers several hotels that capably accommodate North American travelers, the 175-room Marriott Port au Prince is in many ways a watershed property.
The Marriott Port au Prince opened in 2015, nearly four years into a concerted effort by the country’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industries (MTIC) to re-establish Haiti as a leisure travel destination.
While growing political stability, MTIC’s focused marketing effort and Haiti’s underrated array of natural, man-made and historically significant attractions combined to drive visitor arrivals to 1,189,269 travelers in 2015, 1,127,577 5.2 percent increase over 2014 that follows double-digit increases in 2013 and 2014 the Marriott Port au Prince has nevertheless established an important presence among international travelers to the nation’s capital city.
The hotel recently received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, which recognizes outstanding service and hospitality as determined by consumer reviews posted on TripAdvisor.com.
More significantly for American travelers, the hotel adds a familiar hospitality brand to the country.
While intended primarily as a business hotel, the property features most of the elements required to accommodate leisure guests, from a full-service restaurant to complimentary WiFi and a concierge desk.
The hotel also offers the convenience of location within proximity of many of the country’s premier tourist attractions. From my base at the hotel last year I was able to visit a several areas and attractions including Bassin Bleu, a magnificent waterfall and grotto located in the hills of nearby Jacmel, and the Musee du Pantheon National Haitien.
The latter offers a fascinating display of artifacts tied to Haitian history.
During my visit, I viewed swords and firearms and uniforms used by generals in Haiti’s battle for independence and the actual anchor from Christopher Columbus’ ship Santa Maria.
The Marriott Port au Prince has the additional distinction of décor that reflects the country’s outstanding artwork and distinctive culture. The hotel’s art collection is culled from the work of 22 local artists and was curated by Philippe Dodard, a celebrated Haitian artist whose work inspired celebrity designer Donna Karan’s spring 2012 collection.
As a result, the Marriott Port au Prince’s accommodations and public spaces feature original Haitian paintings and decorative metal, wood and papier-mâché sculpture. Moreover during my visit I learned some of the best art displays take shape each morning on the sidewalks outside the hotel.
Guests can simply walk across the street to peruse a collection of original paintings and decorative wall art set up daily by sidewalk art vendors. The vendors expect customers to haggle, and with a little friendly and intense banter travelers can come away with beautiful work at great values.
The hotel is also a landmark property in terms of its impact on Haiti, as it employs 162 Haitian residents and purchases soaps and bath products, coffee, flower arrangements, seafood, fruits and produce from local vendors.
Additionally, the property operates under a comprehensive corporate social responsibility program that focuses on sustainability said Ellen Wouters, the hotel’s general manager. “All of this makes the Marriott Port-au-Prince more than a hotel for those of us fortunate enough to work here, our guests, and anyone who takes pride in Haiti,” she said.
Haiti’s top hotels include the family owned Kinam Hotel, the NH Haiti El Rancho, which is described by some as the country’s most luxurious property and the Karibe Hotel and Conference Center, located within the Petionville metropolitan district. Beachside options include the Moulin Sur Mer, the Hotel Club Indigo, located on the site of a former Club Med property, and the boutique Wahoo Bay Beach hotel.
The Marriott Port au Prince maintains a special place in Haiti’s hotel inventory. It success reflects the country’s continuing resurgence as a Caribbean travel destination.
More by Brian Major
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Airlines & Airports