Business

AC Marriott Nears Completion

Kingston's newest hotel scheduled for June 1 opening

BY VERNON DAVIDSON
Executive editor — publications
davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 15, 2019

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Looking on from outside the construction fence on Lady Musgrave Road in St Andrew, pedestrians and motorists see only the impressive edifice of the AC Marriott hotel that the operators intend to officially open on June 1.

If, however, you are fortunate enough to get onto the property, you will see a beehive of activity as construction of the 220-room hotel is near completion under the leadership of the Sandals Resorts International and Appliance Traders Ltd team.

The AC Marriott is an initiative of the Gordon “Butch” Stewart family enterprise and represents the family's first major tourism venture outside of its Sandals/Beaches resorts trademark.

The hotel, which adds to the growing skyline of Jamaica's capital, is a departure from the resort-centric Sandals brand and is being spearheaded by Sandals/ATL Group's Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart and managed by General Manager Koen Hietbrink, who has trained for the last two years with Sandals Resorts across several Caribbean islands.

The brand “offers concept-driven, turn-key customisation of guest room and public space design built for a new kind of guest — a creative, entrepreneurial-minded and modern global traveller — who prefers to have fewer things but expects them to be better than good”, the Marriott literature states.

Those are standards that Hietbrink is positive will be met by the new property.

A key to that is ensuring that the hotel's 150 team members meet exacting service delivery standards that fit with AC Hotels founder Antonio Catalan's mantra that “hotels should be so much more than just lodging; they should serve as an escape, an oasis from the mundane”.

The AC brand, Hietbrink explained, is all about lifestyle. “It's about creating a platform or zone where people can come together and socialise and make plans for exploring the city,” facilitating access to the Blue Mountains, Ocho Rios, the north/south highway, as well as enriching cultures and history for the city of Kingston.

As such, Enterprise — a car rental service — and Island Routes Caribbean Adventures, the award-winning attractions company, will operate from the new hotel. “So people will be able to make arrangements for tours and get out into the country,” Hietbrink offered, adding that while he accepts that the majority of visitors to Kingston are business travellers, the hotel's operators want to explore the leisure side of the business as well. “It will add quality to the guests' experience,” he said.

Another major focus of the hotel, though, will be the meetings and conventions market, a US$30-billion industry worldwide, according to data provided by online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal Statista.

With that in mind, the AC Marriott will offer more than 18,600 square feet of meeting space in three separate rooms, the largest being the main ballroom with the capacity to seat 600 people and which can be broken into three separate rooms.

In total, the hotel will be able to accommodate six separate meetings simultaneously, and parking will not be an issue as the operators are constructing a multistorey parking facility with the capacity for 300 vehicles, including three stations for electronic cars.

Hietbrink is also excited about the fact that the hotel will be fitted with more than 200 solar panels, energy-efficient glass, as well as a check-in desk that caters to guests with accessible needs. In addition, he said that 10 rooms are designed to accommodate wheelchair-bound guests, while there are 17 rooms for guests who are hearing-impaired.

Not to be outdone, the hotel will also feature a laundromat, a large, spacious fully equipped gym, Marriott's signature restaurant, bar, and AC Store where guests can buy drinks, coffee, wines and souvenirs.

In addition, the brand's popular AC Library will offer guests a quiet place to read, use the Internet, send e-mails or just relax.

“It's about creating services that provide guests with what they want,” Hietbrink said.


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