Friday, March 13, 2009

Ritz Carlton to Aruba

ORANJESTAD-The government has surprized many on the island on Wednesday by announcing theconstruction of a five star luxury Ritz Carlton Resort. The present and past governments have for 15 years tried to attract a prestigious five star resort brand such as the Ritz Carlton in Aruba, withnot much success. With great pride Prime Minister Nelson Oduber announced that the parties involved in the negotiation of the proposed Ritz Carlton project have reached an agreement, and construction of the resort will start shortly. The Prime Minister admitted that the road to bring Ritz Carlton to Aruba was long and difficult, but was pleased with the final outcome.Aruba's tourism industry has long matured, and it is now time to elevate the quality of the tourism product to a higher level, by attracting the luxury market and that of high excellence. Contrary topast hotel projects, it is agreed that the Ritz Carlton hotel will not receive tax holiday from the government, nor will the government stand guaranteed for the project. This project will not cost Aruba tax payers money, but will provide money to the government and locals once the resort is operational.The hotel will be constructed north of the Marriott Resort on Hadicurari Beach, and it will be namedAruba Ritz Carlton Resort Spa & Casino. Ritz Carlton Aruba will consist out of 320 rooms of highquality design consistent with the standards of Ritz Carlton. The construction of the five star hotelproperty is priced at US$200 million. Aruba Investment Bank is the biggest financial stakeholder inthe project.While many hotel projects in the Caribbean are being cancelled because of the present global financial and economic crisis, the construction of Ritz Carlton in Aruba is a sign of confidence in thetourism product and the economy of the island. The construction of the hotel is welcome news forthe construction sector, it will provide 425 construction jobs. Ritz Carlton Aruba will employ 500 people once the hotel is operational. An additional 550 indirect jobs will be created because of additional tourists. Oduber says there is no need to attract much foreign labor, as 900 students complete their studies each year on the island.Oduber emphasized that attracting an additional five star hotel on the island does not imply that Aruba is a five star tourism destination, but it is a step forward in achieving that goal. "We have to continue to improve our tourism product, through educating and motivating employees working in the sector, and hotels should improve and upgrade their facilities." The government will continueto push for the relocation of the container terminal from Oranjestad to Barcadera, and soon announce the start of revitalizing the main street of Oranjestad.

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