Former Digicel boss to open VIP airport business
Dionne Rose, Business Reporter
David Hall and a Canadian partner are ploughing J$170 million into an upmarket corporate entertainment lounge that pampers travellers, scheduled to open at Jamaica's two airports.
Hall said Club Kingston Club Montego Bay will be offering state-of-the-art manicure and pedicure salon service; high-tech business centres; and cultural exhibitions allowing persons to view the history of Jamaican music, familiarise themselves with Jamaican sports legends and the works of the country's artists.
"It is a cultural attraction that we are establishing, it is like a showcase of Jamaica's culture," he told Wednesday Business.
Hall, a former executive with the Digicel Group, and his partner Carlos Moleon have formed a company called VIP Attractions to operate the service.
Moleon will run the business, Hall said.
About five million passengers pass through the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay yearly. VIP Attractions' target is 140,000 of those numbers - 100,000 for Club MoBay and 40,000 for Club Kingston - drawn largely, but not exclusively, from the upper end of the market, business travellers and professionals who are willing to pay for the service.
"If you are stuck in the airport for hours, it is a terrible thing," said Hall, an Irishman who first came to Jamaica in 2002 as the finance director of mobile telecommunications giant, Digicel. He later ran the Jamaican operation as CEO, and was replaced by David Hunter in 2008.
Hall pointed to the late December snowstorms in the United States and Europe, which left many travellers stranded in airports for hours because of cancelled flights, as an opportunity for businesses like his to capture an audience.
"It will highlight to the executives all the rich, historical, artistic and cultural aspects of Jamaica; what a way to spend two hours where you can educate yourself in a truly fascinating way," he said.
Hall will be converting in excess of 10,000 square feet of space at Sangster in time for a February opening of the club and more than 5,000 square feet at Norman Manley International to open in March or April.
Both operations, he said, would create about 40 direct jobs, with recruitment for general manager, relationship manager, tour guides, receptionist, concierge, chef, waiters, bartenders and nail technicians under way.
Visitors to the attraction would pay an entry fee, which Hall said has not yet been decided.
The former Digicel CEO said in the same way he offered customers something different while at the helm of Jamaica's number one mobile telecommunication company, he was also projecting that this new venture would offer something unique to travellers.
"It is creating something different, trying to bring something new to the travellers," he said.
Hall disclosed he has invested in real estate and other businesses in Jamaica since leaving Digicel, "but this is the first business venture that I'm doing from scratch," he said.
The businessman is projecting returns on the VIP Attractions investment after five years.