The sod was on Tuesday turned for a US$35 million, 172-room Four Points by Sheraton Hotel to be constructed in Houston along the Mandela to Eccles road link, which President Dr Irfaan Ali has said will be the centrepiece of massive transformation in an economic zone.
In his address to those gathered to witness the ceremony, President Ali revealed that his Administration intends to do its part by expanding various Government Ministries to this zone, including the Housing and Water Minister. He said that work will commence in that and other initiatives by this year end.
“Alongside this hotel, we’ve already approved a modern hospital of international standards, that will focus on specialised care, but more importantly heavily focus on cosmetic and other surgeries. Because we want to create an education and health hub in Guyana,” President Ali said.
“We have also discussed a mall, a possible second hotel, the movement of a number of Government Ministries to this zone, including the Ministry of Housing and Water, the Ministry of Education and the telecoms sector will be housed in this zone, along the highway.”
“Before the end of this year, we expect that physical work will commence in all of these areas. In addition to that, in front of me will be a huge private sector industrial commercial development to support the oil and gas sector.”
According to Ali, not only will the hotel itself drive up property values along the Eccles road link, but by turning the area into a commercial zone, thousands of jobs will be created. He explained that the area will then be connected through a highway and linked to Ogle, where there will be a new road link between La Bonne Intention (LBI) and Enmore, along the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
“That entire corridor will then become a massive housing, commercial, industrial zone, all the way going up to Enmore. The road network will be enhanced into major highways coming out from the East Coast, connected to the East Bank and then moving all the way down to the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, where the new Silica City will be connected. In a very narrow construct. That is how this development is linked,” President Ali said.
The hotel in question, which will feature 172 rooms, a commercial building and an events hall, is being developed by Caribbean Green Building Inc and is expected to create an additional 200 jobs.
According to Andres Botero-Toro, the investor behind the project, the hotel will be a magnet for business and commercial activity in Houston. According to him, it will be the first hotel with Edge advance certification, which relates to clean energy and conservation.
Botero said the hotel will consume 40 per cent less resources, as compared to a similar hotel. He also noted that the hotel will use diverse cultural items. The prefabricated, steel structure for the building is already completed and en-route to Guyana.
Trade, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond meanwhile spoke of the importance of these hotel investments. She noted that when the Government came to power in 2020, there was a deficit in available rooms.
“These investors, because of the nature of the brands. They are internationally renowned brands. They don’t come with fly by night (projects). They conduct their feasibility studies. And Guyana has held its own, as a feasible investment destination,” she said.
Walrond described the hospitality sector as a strategic one, which will fuel economic development in other areas. According to her, the fact that these brand name hotels chose Guyana as their investment destination after conducting their feasibility studies, is something that Guyanese should be proud of.
Meanwhile, Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Peter Ramsaroop praised the investors for their strategic vision in choosing Houston to be the location for the Sheraton Hotel. He noted that all of the hotels that have had construction started, were started by local investors and questioned the rate of return for the project.