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Hendrickson has $5b repair plan for former Wyndham hotel

Published:Thursday | February 18, 2016 | 12:00 AM
The former Wyndham hotel acquired by Kevin Hendrickson in 2014.

Hotelier Kevin Hendrickson will spend up to US$45 million ($5.48 billion) on the refurbishment of the former and idle Wyndham Kingston hotel, which he purchased at auction in 2014.

This was disclosed by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, after Hendrickson showed off an artist's rendition of the interior of the hotel to Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill and Jamaica Tourist Board Chairman Dennis Morrison, and later confirmed by the hotelier's group director of marketing and sales, Nicola Madden-Greig.

The tourism officials met with the hotelier at the neighbouring Courtleigh Hotel & Suites, which Hendrickson also owns.

The hotel repairs are estimated at around US$35 million to US$45 million, which Madden-Greig confirmed as the price tag for just phase one of what will be a three-phase project.

The marketing director said a price tag for the other two was still to be finalised as they were still in the development phase of planning. The first phase is due for completion in the spring of 2017.

Hendrickson has already spent around US$17.6 million to acquire the property. The refurbishing bill will take total projected investment in the early phase to as much as US$62 million.

With the purchase of the 303-room hotel, located at 77 Knutsford Boulevard, he now owns the three hotels that border each other along that stretch, the others being Courtleigh and Jamaica Pegasus.

Hotels will be linked

Under the refurbishment programme at 77 Knutsford, Hendrickson intends to link the properties - a plan that has been touted in the past.

The tourism ministry said the plan is to create "a comprehensive resort complex which utilises the assets of Hendrickson's other New Kingston hotels".

Madden-Greig said the properties will open up into each other.

"The complex will be a unit with shared amenities," she said, but they will retain their individual identities and brands.

The property at 77 Knutsford is yet to be named. Negotiations are ongoing with a prospective operator, but Madden-Greig declined to comment on whether it was a local or international partner ahead of the finalisation of the deal.

The first phase of the refurbishment is expected to create 200 construction jobs, while the reopened property will provide around 500 hospitality jobs.

The hotel was formerly held by Ocean Chimo Limited, the vehicle used by Delroy Howell and partners to operate the property.

However, the hotel was taken over by banker RBC Royal Bank in 2011 and later placed on the market to recover what the bank said were outstanding debts.

Howell has been contesting the takeover of the property.

During the period in which the receiver was attempting to sell the hotel, it was damaged by fire and subsequently shuttered.