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Jan 14, 2022

Marriott Residence Coming to Ambergris Caye

E.C.I. Development is investing fifty-two million dollars in a Marriott-branded hotel on the island of San Pedro.  The hotel will boast over two hundred rooms. Some forty percent of those rooms will be up for sale to private owners for a hefty price tag.  But the company says part of the true value of this hotel will be the economic and training opportunities it will bring to the island and its residents. After four years of planning, and with some bumps along the way, this morning, C.E.O. Mike Cobb and co-founder Joel Negal finally broke ground for the Marriott Residence Ambergris Caye Belize location.  News Five’s Paul Lopez has the story.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

It might look like just a beach at this point, but this location on the island of San Pedro is set to become a prime beachfront Marriott vacation stay.


Mike Cobb

Mike Cobb, C.E.O., E.C.I. Development

“So room rates will run anywhere from about two fifty in the low season to about four fifty in the high season for a typical hotel room, one bedroom kind of residence. Obviously, we will have three bedroom presidential suites, I have no idea what that is going to go for. But, we are going to have three food and beverage outlet. We are going to have a giant conference space. And, that is actually really important too, cause I was just speaking in Belize City, at the Biltmore, and the reason they are not enough conferences on the island is that there is no big conference space. So, we are going to create a conference space to seat about two hundred and fifty theater seating, about a hundred and fifty in a ten top dining, so we are going to be able to host big conferences here on the island.”


The soon-to-be five story hotel investment Marriott Residence Ambergris Caye Belize was first launched back in 2018 as the first branded hotel on the island, and the only of its kind. But, as Co-Founder Joel Negal explained, things did not quite happen as planned.


Joel Negal

Joel Negal, Co-founder, E.C.I. Development

“We signed our franchise agreement with Marriot hotel to become Belize’s first hard brand Marriott hotel almost five years ago. We planned to be under construction by early 2020. But, as you all know, COVID-19 had other plans for us. Our initial lenders got cold feet about lending for a new hotel project during the global pandemic, and they asked us to quote on quote “pause” for a little while, until we knew when the pandemic would be over. I think, people are still trying to answer that question. We were determined to push forward, nevertheless, pursing dozens of options with many regional investors in the region, U.S., Canada, Europe and even as far as Singapore simultaneously.  In the end necessity was truly the mother of invention, and we found the right lenders and the right legal structure to protect the lender’s interest and everyone involved.”


And for C.E.O. Mike Cobb, being first doesn’t matter as much now as expanding the Marriott brand in Belize.


Mike Cobb

“First, second, third, fifty third, it doesn’t matter, because this market is big enough for fifty players like us, whether it is ten Marriott’s, or ten Hiltons, or ten Hyatt’s, whatever, that is thirty. It doesn’t matter. This market is big enough for everybody and the thing that we have to remember is that one hotel does not create a destination. Five hotels, maybe you are starting to become a destination. Ten hotels, fifteen hotels, twenty hotels, now you are a destination.”


When Cobb took the podium at the official ceremony, he spoke about the power of the Marriott brand.


Mike Cobb

“One of the things about Marriot, it is not just good, it is excellent. The Marriott Corporation has been around for one hundred years as a hotel, professional hotel operator. They understand how to train. And , or all the gifts that are coming to the country, the employment is a big one, lots of jobs, lots of hotel taxes, lots of exposure, and the other thing about it, a lot of people are going to look and say there is a Marriott there but I’m not really a Marriott person. I want to stay in a different hotel. It pulls, the brand of Marriott is powerful because it pulls people’s attention to a destination and that is this island that is this country of Belize.”


Minister Henry Charles Usher, representing the Government of Belize spoke at the event about the desirability of Belize as a destination to international brands like the Marriott.


Henry Charles Usher

Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service

“It is not only about coming here and breaking ground, and seeing this project take off. It is about realizing that this group, Joel, Mike, the group of construction guys, members from the entire Marriott brand, everybody in the worked involved with this project, they are sending a signal to the world, come to Belize. This is where you need to be. Maybe it sounds like a little thing, but it isn’t.”


Initially, the construction phase of the project will create jobs for the resident on the island. The San Pedro City Council says the brand is welcomed by residents.


Marina Kay

Marina Kay, San Pedro Town Council

“I think in the whole country many have been without a job up to today. Some of them completely lost their jobs and just going around finding each day what they can do so that they can bring food to their homes. We have some of our people that are still at fifty percent wage, working only half-time. And, I know that this project is going to open so many doors here in our community. Immediately I can see, through the construction, that so many workers will get the opportunity to go back to work.”


E.C.I. values community engagement says C.E.O. Cobb.


Mike Cobb

“We have engaged in the community. We worked with the toy drive. We, seventy five thousand dollars was given to the toy drive between E.C.I. and Key Bank within the last Christmas right, and we have been doing that for a long time. We work with Hope Haven. We work with the Episcopal School across the island. We have just done so much in terms of engaging with the community that the relationships are long. There is a great song, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”. So, we have been here for twenty seven years. WE have old friends and people who know who you are, they know when you say you are going to do something, you do it. Sometimes there are road blocks and we thought we thought we would be opening this ground breaking a lot sooner. But, we got her and we got here.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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