Up to 400 more jobs will be provided for Jamaicans in the long term, under a management agreement between the National Insurance Fund (NIF) and Europe’s third largest hotel chain, Melia Hotels International (MHI).
Under the agreement, the Spanish hotel chain will operate the Braco Hotel in Trelawny, for the next 15 years. This follows negotiations, which involved Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill; and Minister of Labour and Social Security under which the NIF falls, Hon. Derrick Kellier.
During a ceremony at the hotel on Thursday, November 21, the Ministers and Chairman of MHI, Gabriel Escarrer Julia, formally exchanged the signed agreement, after which they toured the property.
Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, who addressed a Jamaica House press briefing on November 20, explained that earlier this year, the Ministry of Finance gave approval for the NIF to undertake renovations and infrastructure improvements at Braco Hotel, which was acquired in 2000.
Minister Falconer told journalists that the 226-room hotel was purchased, subject to a lease agreement with BRL Limited, which is a part of the SuperClubs Group.
She noted that BRL vacated the property in 2011, terminating the lease. “Subsequently a short term agreement was entered into with Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts in order to capitalize on the winter and summer tourism season opportunities for the ensuing two years,” Senator Falconer outlined. That agreement expired in May of this year.
The Minister said the engagement of a long-term management agreement will not only secure some 200 jobs initially, but will also “lay the pathway” for the future expansion of the hotel, to create an additional 150 to 200 jobs.
Melia Hotels International is the 12th largest hotel chain in the world, with more than 350 properties in 35 countries.
By Alphea Saunders