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Spanish hotel chain goes all Jamaican for upgrading work

Published:Saturday | April 25, 2015 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera

WESTERN BUREAU:

Spanish hotel group Melia has broken ranks, selecting an all-Jamaican team of contractors to lead its multimillion dollar upgrading of the new Melia Braco Jamaica, now under construction in Trelawny.

Led by YP Seaton and Company, which has been contracted to redo the hotel rooms, the other Jamaicans include mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers. Furniture and kitchen equipment and the architectural design of the 225-room property will also be done by Jamaicans.

NIF investment

The announcement was made yesterday during an untraditional 'ground-breaking' ceremony of the National Insurance Fund (NIF)-owned property.

The NIF has pumped US$23.3 million into the upgrading of the rooms, infrastructure, and public areas of the former Grand Lido Braco property.

Even with such a large investment in this project, the minister with portfolio responsibility for the NIF, Derrick Kellier, boasted of a fund that has in its coffers a hefty $71 billion at its disposal.

Melia's general manager, Dimitris Kosvogiannis, said: "There is nothing the Dominicans can do that Jamaicans can't do." Foreigners have been brought in to work on several hotels in the past, infuriating Jamaican construction workers who have demonstrated against the practice.

"Don't tell me that we don't have beds and pillows that are made in Jamaica," said Kosvogiannis, adding that when there is a skill lacking, those who need to be brought in must teach the people and return to their homes.

"Otherwise, we are perpetuating an unskilled class of workers," he argued.

Scheduled to open in December, the Jamaican team of contractors is expected to spend eight months completing the job.

On completion, the hotel will carry two brands 160 rooms under the Melia brand and 60 suites under the 'Level Suites'.

According to Kellier, 500 persons are to be employed and those employees should be residents of Trelawny.