Fri | Dec 9, 2016

No room in the inn as Obama visits

Published:Saturday | April 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera
United States President Barack Obama ... arrives in Jamaica April 8.
... Officials are finalising President Obama's schedule for his visit to Jamaica.
... US President Barack Obama will be holding bilateral talks with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
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AT LEAST five major Kingston hotels are fully booked between Monday, April 6 and Friday, April 10, days ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit.

Efforts by The Gleaner to book a room at the city's most popular properties, The Jamaica Pegasus, Courtleigh Hotel and Suites, the Knutsford Court, Spanish Court and the Terra Nova All-Suite hotels, came up nil.

As early as three weeks ago, the landmark Jamaica Pegasus had stopped taking reservations for the period. A total of 900 rooms is required to accommodate the American president's party as well as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, who will converge on the capital city.

The US president's visit is taking place during the Bacchanal Jamaica Carnival, which runs from April 6 to 12. The road march, which attracts thousands of people, is set for next Sunday. Most of the events take place outside of New Kingston.

It is unclear whether or not The Jamaica Pegasus will allow its regular guests to use its restaurants, bars and other facilities, which are usually open to the public. The hotel's director of sales, Nicola Madden-Greig, would not comment.

Sources close to the hotel say the public will be advised accordingly of any impact the visit of the dignitaries will have.

When President Obama visited Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 for the Fifth Summit of the Americas, he and his team took over the Trinidad Hilton and the Hyatt Regency hotels.

"Certain parts of the properties were closed off to the public, and security was hugely tight. He had over 100 security people. Everybody knew what the protocol was, so it wasn't a problem with the locals," said Andrea Perez, a senior journalist with Caribbean Lifestyle Communication.

The US president is expected to arrive in Jamaica on April 8, Consular Officer for Public Affairs at the US Embassy in Kingston Joshua Polacheck said.

A check on the White House's website shows a release issued on March 18 which states that President Obama will visit Jamaica and Panama from April 8-11.

Meanwhile, Polacheck said officials are finalising President Obama's schedule for his visit to Jamaica.

He said among other things the US President would be holding bilateral talks with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller as well as meeting with leaders from the CARICOM.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com