A spanking new hotel was on Sunday evening officially opened along the main road of New Amsterdam by a young couple who both hail from the town.
The Leisure Inn Hotel which has 30 rooms, two built specifically to accommodate differently-abled persons, an indoor pool and bar, sports bar, conference hall, restaurant and soon-to-be-opened nightclub is estimated to have cost the owners some $450M.
Kesha Phillips, one of the owners, explained, that the hotel was built in stages. She said the foundation was laid some nine years ago, “We did our foundation and we had that for a while then we signed a contract with Home Designs and a few years later we continued from there”.
However, she explained, that work on the hotel was stopped for a period of time, the reason being, “We would have acquired another property and we wanted to focus on that because it is more centrally located in Georgetown, we wanted to push more work there and then started to focus here”.
According to Phillips, her husband has always wanted to open a business in New Amsterdam. She added that in Berbice, accommodation options were limited and the food standard was another issue.
The businesswoman, touching on the rooms built to benefit differently-abled persons, said she believes that all business places should have some conveniences for these customers. “They are supposed to be able to accommodate disabled persons, that’s why we have the ramp coming up, that’s why we have the side door, doors are wider as well, we have the elevator as well to accommodate them”, she said.
The hotel’s restaurant called Keuken, which means cuisine in Dutch, will be headed by an international chef who was previously employed at the Marriott Hotel in Suriname and will offer a mostly “French – European Cuisine”.
Phillips also noted that there is a private dining area in the restaurant which can be transformed into a boardroom in order to facilitate smaller meetings and workshops.
She said that during the construction there were mixed reviews and criticisms from persons within the town. However, she said, “I like criticism because it makes me a better person”.
She asserted that despite her hotel being next to the Little Rock Hotel she believes that with a proper marketing strategy and good services her business will be a success.
“Also if workers don’t give good service, it doesn’t matter how investors try they will always bring your standard down”, she noted.
At Sunday’s opening, the owners showcased Berbice’s talents, including Calvin Burnett and the Golden Om Dharmic Dance Troupe and other entertainers. The conference hall was also filled with artwork to be showcased for the evening.
Ryan Alexander, President of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce, who delivered brief remarks during the opening ceremony, stated that Leisure Inn is seemingly an idea that became a reality from “out of the box thinking”. He said, “Leisure Inn has started the process of transforming New Amsterdam’s landscape for the future and has undoubtedly raised the bar of the hospitality industry in Berbice”.
Alexander said that the hospitality and tourism industry in Berbice has great potential and he called on all stakeholders such as central government, local government and the private sector to come together to set up a framework to offer a complete tourism package within Region Six and to allow investments such as Leisure Inn to optimize its true potential.
He explained that the framework he is talking about should consider the strengths and weaknesses within the region “and to focus more on the strength of this region, so we can put together a package” for all Guyanese and international visitors.
Meanwhile, Mayor of New Amsterdam, Winifred Haywood called on business owners within the township to welcome the competition from Leisure Inn and to use the challenge to better their own businesses.