Local artistry is a central part of the Best Western Premier Petion-Ville, Haiti. // © Best Western Premier Petion-Ville
Since the earthquake of 2010, it’s been a blur of discouraging media reports about Haiti, so it’s a pleasure to report some unabashed good news for the beleaguered country. Last April, Aimbridge Hospitality and Haiti-based Carabimmo SA — in partnership with Best Western International — announced the opening of the Best Western Premier Petion-Ville, Haiti.
“At this time, 90 percent of our guest are corporate. We need to look for a secondary market, since aid groups will go home in five years,” said Sacha Perez, sales manager, Best Western Premier Petion-Ville. “Tourism is the future of Haiti.”
Best Western Premier Petion-Ville, Haiti is a newbuild in the upmarket suburb of Petion-Ville. The construction price tag was $15 million and frankly, that figure doesn’t seem to do the hotel justice, as the property looks like a much costlier build. The seven-story hotel features 106 guestrooms with three Executive and Imperial suites, meeting facilities, a pool, a concierge, French inspired restaurant Le Michel, a whisky bar, room service, a round-the-clock doorman, a gym and a full-service spa.
It’s easy to stay connected during a stay. There’s a $10 per day Internet fee in the room, although there is free WiFi access in the lobby and business center, which also has a complimentary PC for guests’ use. Room rates range from $160 -$275 per room per night, plus tax, and government rates are available.
“We’re looking to the U.S. market primarily,” said Ronald K. Maidens, general manager, Best Western Premier Petion-Ville. “We’re not working directly with any U.S. tour companies at this time.”
When it comes to security for guests, caution is still the order of the day. When our group attended a dinner at La Souvenance, a restaurant that was virtually around the corner, we were accompanied by a security detail. Hopefully, as more and more Haitians find employment, the need for security will be relaxed.
The hotel offers complimentary shuttle service between a five to 10 mile radius. The hotel also offers a shuttle between the airport and the hotel for $50 each way. Traffic in Port-au-Prince can be slow as molasses, so when planning your trip back to the airport, be sure to give yourself extra time.
In a country with unemployment at 70 percent, there are numerous people jockeying to carry your bag when you exit the airport. This isn’t the best introduction to any country and will be alleviated when construction of a Best Western kiosk inside the airport is completed; date to be announced.
Haiti’s Artistry on Display
I wasn’t prepared to be blown away by a Best Western property. In my experiences in the U.S., I tended to lump Best Western in with other mid-market brands where the price point was king. The Best Western Premier brand is a whole other animal, and I suspect the Best Western Premier Petion-Ville is a brand stand-out, particularly for the quality of its interior design and artwork on display throughout the property. The owners of the hotel had the idea of making Haitian art a central part of the hotel. Guests can request a tour explaining the story behind the art and design of the hotel. The artwork can also be purchased, with proceeds benefiting a local foundation for the rebuilding of Haiti.
“More than 100 artists worked on the art in the hotel,” said Pascale Therad – artistic director of 1804 design.
Therad curated the Haitian art that contributes to the design of the hotel. She introduced European design concepts that influenced local artists to expand their vision.
Look closely and you will see familiar castoff materials used by the artists, including recycled cork, tires, steel oil drums and even T-shirts.
“There was always a culture of recycling in Haiti,” explained Therad.
In the fall, Best Western Premier Petion-Ville, Haiti will begin bringing travel agents to Haiti on fam trips.