Local company, Superior Hotels Limited, has signed on to construct a $500 million 200-room Marriott-branded hotel in Rocky Point, Tobago.
The announcement was made yesterday at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort Tobago by Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon.
When completed, the project is expected to comprise a 200 room hotel, 28 duplex residences, 11 single-family luxury villas, 12 town houses and a full-scale of luxury amenities.
According to eTeck’s website, the lands known as Rocky Point consist of two parcels of land- one being 13 acres and the other being 15 acres.
A public beach borders the southern part of the land.
Gopee-Scoon said the Government made a decision in January 2021 to invite offers for the development of a hotel in Rocky Point, through the Evolving Technologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK).
The minister said the same site was selected several years ago for the construction of a Hilton Tobago, but that project never got off the ground.
“But here we are once again as partners, eTeck, the Tobago House of Assembly and the developers, we will have a successful Rocky Point Marriott hotel,” she said.
She said seven expressions of interest were submitted for the project and an evaluation committee, with members from eTeck, the Finance Ministry, the Trade and Industry Ministry, the Tourism Ministry and the THA- selected two candidates.
When requests for proposals (RFPs) were closed in August, the committee selected Superior Hotels for the project.
“The Cabinet accepted the recommendations of the committee on September 16, 2021, and has authorised eTeck to issue a letter of offer to Superior Hotels Limited for a 99-year lease for the lands at Rocky Point for the development of this first-class hotel. Superior Hotels of Trinidad and Tobago has committed to investing TT$496 million through a combination of equity and debt, in other words, no Government funding will be provided for this capital investment in this new first-class resort,” Gopee-Scoon said.
She said the project will bring both short and long-term benefits to the island, with the creation of 750 jobs during the construction phase and 220 jobs once the hotel opens.
Superior has also committed to using local produce, labour and materials as far as possible, Gopee-Scoon said.
“The company has committed to conducting training programmes in conjunction with the THA at the Secondary School level in Tobago to prepare potential candidates for careers in the hospitality and tourism sector,” she added.
Gopee-Scoon said the resort will also create a farmers programme where the hotel will work with farmers in Tobago to improve production and service.
She said the project will provide a “catalytic stimulus” for Tobago’s tourism sector and a platform for sustainable economic and social development.
Gopee-Scoon said the Marriott would also place Tobago as a frontrunner in the Caribbean tourism industry.
“By 2025 we are going to have this magnificent development at Rocky Point in Tobago,” she said.
eTeck chairman, Imtiaz Ahamad said Superior has a vast amount of experience in the hotel industry both locally and abroad. He said eTeck was satisfied the evaluation committee had selected the best company for the project.
“A highlight of the proposal was the inclusion of a detailed environmental preservation plan, which takes into consideration all stages of the project from design to construction to occupancy, the preliminary designs have also considered the consideration for the environment and the natural beauty of the bay,” Ahamad said.
He said the plans also address the impact on vegetation, marine life and turtles on the island.
THA chief secretary Ancil Dennis also spoke, saying it was a good day for Tobago.
However, recalling the failed Tobago Sandals project, Dennis also urged Tobagonians to be cautious.
“It must also trigger some caution because it was only five years ago that we almost had a Sandals but I want to give the people of Tobago the assurance that this time around it will not be about almost, we will have a Marriott hotel here in Tobago by 2025,” Dennis said.
The Sandals Tobago project was announced in 2017 but two years later, the resort announced it would not follow through with its construction plans due to negative publicity. There were numerous environmental concerns raised about the Sandals project at that time.
Yesterday, Dennis said millions of dollars were being invested in Tobago’s tourism industry, both by the State and private developers. He urged Tobagonians to support the Marriott project, saying, “All of us were around and we saw what transpired with the Sandals project. I’m simply saying to the people of Tobago that we have a responsibility to ensure that this becomes a success. Attempts to malign and derail this project should not be encouraged in the Tobago space.”
Dennis said he was sending out his message not only to politicians but to all stakeholders within the tourism sector.