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Melia proposes joint venture deal for Braco resort

Published:Wednesday | January 7, 2015 | 1:00 AM
The Braco Resort in Trelawny.

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Hotel manager Dimitris Kosvogiannis says Spanish chain Melia Hotels International is planning to introduce the 5-star Paradisus brand to Jamaica under a joint-venture deal with the Government.

Melia recently entered Jamaica as manager of the Braco hotel, owned by National Insurance Fund (NIF), and is already in talks to expand the 225-room resort in three years.

NIF senior director of investment Audrey Deer-Williams said Melia's proposal is to rebrand the property as a Paradisus resort.

The Trelawny-based resort is currently undergoing a $1-billion upgrade with plans for reopening in June of this year under the name Melia Braco Village.

"The plan down the road is to bring the Paradisus brand, which is a five-star luxury brand that Melia has, to Jamaica. Discussions are ongoing with the Government on this," said Kosvogiannis, who has been tapped to run the newly branded Melia Braco Village.

"The idea would be to form a joint venture with the Government and this is work in progress still. The Government has been very responsive, very aggressive in the creation of economic stimulus, but there has not been finality to that yet, most likely because we are looking at something in the next 24 to 36 months," Kosvogiannis explained.

Deer-Williams said on Tuesday that the plans were medium-term and not for immediate action.

"What's required are additional rooms and other amenities," she said.

None of the details regarding the additional room count and the cost of the expansion would be available at this early stage of the discussions, she indicated.

NIF is itself focused on the hotel's repairs and reopening at mid-year (see related story on Page D3).

"We have to complete the refurbishing. [Paradisus] is a medium-term project," she said.

Melia Hotels International operates several brands, including Melia, Paradisus, Grand Melia, TRYP, ME, INNSIDE by MELIA and Sol Melia Hotels. Properties in the group number just under 400.

The company describes the Paradisus brand on its website as five star and the "most luxurious all-inclusive resort experience in the world, which includes signature cooking by famous international chefs, spectacular YHI Spas and a unique, personalised service to make dreams come true. Private pool and beach areas with Bali beds and exclusive services."

The brand also offers wedding and honeymoon packages, "royal service for adults only", family concierge with personalised service plus 'The Reserve', a private and exclusive luxury room concept.

The last addition to this portfolio, the Paradisus Papagayo Bay

In the Bay of Papagayo, Costa Rica was slated for opening final quarter 2014. The property has 381 rooms.

Kosvogiannis meanwhile said he is lobbying for the establishment of an independent body within the local hotel industry to certify five-star status among local properties, as while many claim the accolade, very few properties locally fell into the category, unlike the islands of St Barts and St Kitts.

Kosvogiannis also said Melia was encouraged by the fall in crime rates in Jamaica.

"They have strong plans to expand on the Braco property and security has always been an issue. It's very every encouraging to see what's happening as far as combatting crime."

As outlined in an agreement publicised in November 2013, the Melia group promises to hire about 400 Jamaicans over the long term.

At the time of the agreement, it was said by government officials that the engagement of a long-term management agreement would secure 200 jobs initially, but "lay the pathway" for the future expansion of the hotel, to create an additional 150 to 200 jobs.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com