An advertisement appearing in today’s Stabroek News says that Hotel Tower is up for sale.
The advertisement describes the hotel as prime property located in Central Georgetown at 74-75 Main Street. Interested buyers can contact Renny C Hemraj, General Manager at telephone numbers 227 2012-5 or cell 647 1273.
Hotel Tower first opened its doors in 1866 on the site on the present General Post Office. In 1910 it was re-sited to its present location under expatriate ownership. In 1946 the property was acquired by a Guyanese/ Barbadian family, the Humphreys, along with 50 other shareholders and re-named Hotel Tower Ltd. Though the next 50 years comprised troughs and peaks the Tower’s ideal downtown location made it attractive to its guests.
In 1966, on the occasion of the Hotel’s Golden Anniversary a commemorative stamp was struck in the hotel’s honour. The hotel’s then executive chairman, Richard Humphrey, declared that the establishment was proud to wear the title of “leading businessman’s hotel in Georgetown.” After that the Tower’s fortunes began to decline. Less than two years later it had drifted into financial difficulties.
The owners persevered, however, and in 1988 it immersed itself in further debt to finance the upgrading of the facility to a five-star hotel. The upgrading plans included the establishment of the Emerald Tower Rainforest Lodge at Madewini and a tour operations facility at the hotel. That initiative failed to bail out the Tower.
The hotel had run into difficulties in the 1990s when it invested too heavily with the aim of becoming a five-star hotel. The investment decision was taken when the economy was booming, but the momentum was not maintained and the occupancy level fell in the face of political turmoil. As a result, the lack of returns did not allow for money to be reinvested because it was diverted to paying crippling debt.
The establishment went into receivership to the Bank of Nova Scotia on April 12, 1999. The bank appointed Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram as Receiver/Manager of Hotel Tower.
Even as efforts were made to turn the fortunes of the hotel around and to find a buyer, business continued to decline with the average monthly room occupancy dipping to approximately 25 per cent of total market share.
On September 2, 2002 this newspaper reported that the hotel had moved from a loss-making situation to making operational profits, and that it had doubled its available rooms by over 100 per cent, from 30 rooms in 1999 to around 62 rooms at that time.
The managers had sought to raise the sum of $250 million to lift the hotel out of receivership, paying $3.5 paid million monthly to the bank.
Later, in his capacity as Receiver, Ram advertised in the Stabroek News a Request for Proposal for the purchase of the assets of the hotel.
In mid-2003, the Bank of Nova Scotia ceased its receivership hold on Hotel Tower Ltd in an equity transaction which saw a local investor group with businessmen RL Singh, Amarnauth Muneshwer and Ashoka Singh of Canada emerge as the new majority shareholders. Some of the small shareholders who were originally with the hotel had retained their business interest while Humphrey opted to sell his 60 per cent stake in the business.
The hotel was again sold in February 2009 to Canal Hospitality Inc, a business partnership headed by Salim Azeez, with US-based businessman James Manbahal, as well as Guyanese Varendra Shiwratan and Bharti Persaud Misir as directors. The entire hotel was completely remodelled.