Mon | Sep 20, 2021

New Maltese owner of Morgan’s Harbour plans five-star upgrade

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2021 | 12:17 AMKarena Bennett/Business Reporter

Grand Hotel Excelsior Limited, the new owners of the former Morgan’s Harbour Hotel, has made minor upgrades to the property for its phased reopening amid the ongoing pandemic, but is still mulling over the plans to develop the property into a five-...

Grand Hotel Excelsior Limited, the new owners of the former Morgan’s Harbour Hotel, has made minor upgrades to the property for its phased reopening amid the ongoing pandemic, but is still mulling over the plans to develop the property into a five-star resort.

The hotel is now listed on popular travel websites as a three-star resort.

“The hotel has accepted guests, on and off, over the past year, depending on demand, which has been affected by COVID. Future plans are still being developed,” said Grand Hotel’s Christopher Pope. “However, in general our plan to develop the property into a low density 5-star resort is consistent with the Port Royal 2020 Plan,” he said.

The property, which is now being operated under the brand Grand Excelsior Port Royal, began actively advertising nightly stays on social media for the Easter break after taking steps to attract visitors to its resort using day passes and restaurant specials.

Pope has not disclosed the Malta-based Grand Hotel’s spend on the property so far, nor the investments to be made in the upgrades.

“We are still developing our overall plan and marketing materials, internally, so for the time being I am limited with what I can say,” he told the Financial Gleaner.

Grand Hotel Excelsior took possession of the former Morgan’s Harbour Hotel in early 2020, following a court ruling ordering the former operator, Lashmont Financial Services, to vacate the property that had been sold by receivers to the Malta company.

Around the same time, Jamaica welcomed tourists on the Marella Discovery 2, the first cruise ship to call on the newly developed cruise ship port in Port Royal, which adjoins the hotel. Grand Excelsior Port Royal had been positioning as a cultural and entertainment hotspot to draw both cruise passengers and locals to its services, but the lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 virus has robbed it of business.

Grand Hotel Excelsior retained the existing general manager, Molech Brown, as well as the existing staff, upon takeover of the hotel.

The property, which comprises a total of 60 rooms, had been in receivership for more than four years, having been put up for sale by its shareholders.

The assets of Morgan’s Harbour Limited were primarily comprised of long-term leasehold rights to six parcels, covering approximately 24 acres of land located in Port Royal, one of which was home to the hotel.

Lashmont at one stage had acquired the debenture over Morgan’s Harbour debt that was formerly held by Development Bank of Jamaica, and tried to block the sale of the hotel because it wanted to acquire the leasehold.

The sale price paid by Grand Hotel Excelsior Limited for Morgan’s Harbour has not been disclosed.

Grand Hotel Excelsior Port Royal is currently running weekend promotions for locals for a ‘getaway’ amid the weekend lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19. But the hotel operator notes that it’s quietly preparing for a rebound in leisure activities as well as the reopening of the cruise industry amid announcements by Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett for the welcoming of 570,000 cruise shipping visitors and one million stopover travellers by year-end.

So far, Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed that it will homeport in Montego Bay in August, with a vessel that has the capacity to carry 3,800 passengers.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com