Cara Hotels to manage Napa hotel

Cara Ho­tels has leased the 53-room ho­tel at­tached to the Na­tion­al Acad­e­my of the Per­form­ing Arts (Na­pa).

Ac­cord­ing to a De­cem­ber 2018 Cab­i­net note about the deal, the com­pa­ny will pay some $390,000 per year to lease the Na­pa Ho­tel, payable in quar­ter­ly tranch­es.

The first pay­ment is not ex­pect­ed un­til 2021.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Shaun Mc­Grath came in­to the coun­try from Guyana on Mon­day night. While he did not want to dis­cuss the fi­nan­cial as­pects of the deal, which is still in the draft stages, he con­firmed that his com­pa­ny has ne­go­ti­at­ed a sev­en-year tax break and du­ty-free con­ces­sions as part of the 10-year lease agree­ment.

“When all this is done and dust­ed, I will hap­pi­ly sit down and give you all the gory de­tails but I can­not do it now. I have com­mit­ted a cer­tain amount but I know I may have to put more in­to that,” he said.

Mc­Grath said while man­age­ment of the ho­tel will be un­der the Cara um­brel­la, he and his busi­ness part­ner are for­mu­lat­ing a new com­pa­ny to take over Na­pa ho­tel.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cab­i­net Note, a cap­i­tal in­vest­ment of some $1.6 mil­lion is need­ed to de­vel­op a walk­way, up­grade the restau­rant and bar, re­fur­bish and up­grade the lob­by and the trans­form one of the two restau­rants in­to a con­fer­ence room. An­oth­er $2.1 mil­lion is ex­pect­ed to be spent on fix­tures and fit­tings and equip­ment.

Mc­Grath said that while it might be sur­pris­ing news to some, Gov­ern­ment had been ac­tive­ly try­ing to out­source man­age­ment of the Na­pa ho­tel for the past decade.

“We first sent in a ten­der about nine years ago and heard noth­ing. Nine years of si­lence. We sent notes to the for­mer gov­ern­ment ask­ing about the sta­tus and we did not get a re­ply,” he said.

“We wrote suc­ces­sive min­is­ters and we heard noth­ing. We could not un­der­stand how this ho­tel was sit­ting there, do­ing noth­ing. It was such a waste of a na­tion­al as­set that was just sit­ting there and do­ing noth­ing. I was floored.”

Mc­Grath said the new re­quest for pro­pos­als was is­sued in 2016 and he and eight oth­ers went on a site vis­it. He said when he re­ceived the call that he had won the ten­der, he asked for a chance to ful­ly in­ves­ti­gate the ho­tel.

“What was sur­pris­ing was how good a con­di­tion the ho­tel was in. I was blown away by how well it had been main­tained. Noth­ing de­te­ri­o­rates faster than a build­ing that has not been used. But this was very well main­tained,” he said.

He said while the ho­tel was in good con­di­tion, there are some struc­tur­al is­sues that need­ed to be ad­dressed al­most im­me­di­ate­ly.

He said Cara Ho­tels took on the biggest chunk of the cost to up­grade the Na­pa ho­tel but Gov­ern­ment is al­so ex­pect­ed to put up some cash.

Mc­Grath and his team ex­pect to take over the ho­tel next month but the mat­ter is still be­fore the lawyers.

“It is not like Hilton (Trinidad) or Hy­att (Re­gency). Once we set it up there is no Gov­ern­ment in­volve­ment,” he said mean­ing that Cara Ho­tels will take full re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for main­tain­ing the ho­tel.

Mc­Grath has al­ready met with de­sign­ers and oth­er con­trac­tors to take Na­pa for­ward but noth­ing can be done un­til the fi­nal con­tract is signed.

- by Renuka Singh

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