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Pool upgrade an investment in tourism

Saturday, February 3, 2018

I was a little concerned reading recent news reports that $7.6 million dollars was spent refurbishing the pool at Hilton Trinidad in St Ann’s.

Like many other Trinidadians my first reaction was that that money could have been better spent buying beds for hospitals, repairing schools or some other positive use for the cash-strapped nation. Then I saw

Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon defending the upgrade costs and decided to do a little research of my own.

What I found surprised me. Firstly the Hilton Trinidad is a 53-year-old facility, like the Hyatt the building is owned by the people of T&T and Hilton and Hyatt respectively manage the properties. As with any revenue generating asset, it’s important to provide timely maintenance and upgrades to ensure visitors continue to utilise the facilities.

In fact, as part of the management and licensing agreement with Hilton International, a portion of revenue earned must be utilised to cover the cost of upgrades and maintenance.

This money is contractually due and may not be diverted to other expenses like paying for hospital beds or school repairs. It’s essentially an investment in our tourism.

I was also able to find a review written on TripAdvisor describing the pool in the following manner. “The property may have been great 20 years ago, but it needs a makeover inside and outside. The pool was not clear, but a murky teal colour and it was filthy.

The outside edges of the pool were cracked and the rails to get in and out of the pool were rusty and looked as if they could break when getting out. The concrete of the pool area was cracked and chipped.

There was a kid pool that looked as though it had been empty for years; it was cracked as well.

The entire pool area smelled like sewage and urine. “ In essence this upgrade was long overdue.

The upgrade works include a raised Jacuzzi, an adult tanning ledge and a children’s pool, three cabanas, a water fountain with LED lights, upgraded mechanical, electrical and plumbing services and equipment, a new audio system, a salt water treatment system and a new reinforced fibre concrete pool deck patterned in the form of a steel pan mural.

In the end I was embarrassed at my initial reaction to the pool upgrade.

As Trinbagonians we cannot insist that the government diversify the economy then criticise investments in diversification. We can’t have it both ways.



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