From the minute I walked in the door I enjoyed the Marriott completely. The staff wore great uniforms which I wish I could buy for myself. They were perfectly pressed white shirts with bright green and pink buttons. The sleeves and collars had bright green accents that match the buttons. Embroidered above their left pocket was a Legba veve in black. It seems to me that the staff had to have endured eons of hospitality training by the way they were over the top with the pleases, sirs, thank yous and smiles. That is a good problem to have in the scheme of things, but they could turn it down a lil. That said, it was their first week being open so I know they were working out the kinks. After check in we gazed down the grand entryway and saw what looked to be a beautiful bar and an outdoor space that begged a visit.
After we checked in the room we headed down to the bar where I tried my first Kinam, which if you didn't already know is a new beer in Haiti. It is stronger alcohol content than a Prestige, but the flavor isn't too far removed. We met a dear long time friend Pascale Monnin in the lobby. She told us all about her new job at the Centre d’Art where she is working to protect the treasures and legacy of Haitian Art they hold. She has been working hard to publish online great works of art and artist bios from Haiti. Beyond her work there her family owns one of the finest galleries in Petionville Galerie Monnin and she gave me the scoop on what her mom, dad, and sister have been up to. Of course Pascale is one of Haiti's most accomplished artists, and personally one of my favorite contemporary artists. If you don't already know, just look her up. She told us about her recent works of art and installations which are just amazing.
While sitting there, the general manager Peter Antinoph came by to ask if we were enjoying everything. We ended up talking for a while and heard all about their process of selecting and training employees and their short and long term plans for the restaurant and bar. We sat around and had a few drinks before getting a little hungry and decided to try the food there. As we ate, the American Ambassador Pamela White came in for her birthday dinner with her husband. The place was bubbling with energy. People were all coming to check out the new place. Bee and I bounced around the premises checking out the books about Haitian art on their bookshelves, sat by the pool, and then back by the bar.
One of the most notable things about the design of the hotel is the use of Haitian art in the design. The bar itself was backed by a massive nearly 2 story mural made from traditional hand cut metal. Its an image of an underwater world filled with siren and fish. In other parts of the hotel other forms of this same art were adorning hallways. In the lobby large iron sculptural pieces made for room divides. Outside on the patio evening lights were made with hand cut metal sculptures that towered around in various casual seating areas. In the restaurant there were great sequin flags that lit up the room. Much of the art is playful and fun. The traditional Haitian art forms blend in perfectly with the modern design of the hotel. The structure of the hotel could be anywhere, but the art and decoration put your right in the heart of Port au Prince Haiti.
When it comes to hotels in Haiti - Location location location. When visiting you might want to have a high end hotel with great service and great food. This will most often take you to Petionville. The problem with Petionville is the traffic going down to the city. I have sat in 1-2 hours of traffic trying to get down for a meeting in the city during morning rush our. Its no wonder why there is a joke about Haitian time. The traffic is seriously appalling, but you learn to get over it when you live there. Not to mention if you know your way around a bit there are all kinds of precarious little roads you can take to avoid major traffic. Even then if you are coming to do business in the city, Petionville is kind of a pain, so this new Marriott is located right next to the Digicel tower in the city. It is perfectly situated as it is in the city, and Its not too far away from Petionville, so if you had it in your mind to go up the hill for some fine dining and nightlife long after traffic has died down you will find its location ideal.
The room we had was very nice. The beds were new and soft, and the design was modern and eloquent. When I turned on the TV it said on the screen "Hello Mr. Rawson". I found this hotel to be really well done, nicely put together, and interestingly decorated. Whether you are in for business or on vacation doing some exploring I would highly recommend staying here at the Marriott. Personally I was really excited to come because I had been seeing all kinds of pictures of their grand opening on the internet. I saw Bill Clinton, President Martelly, Sean Penn, and more all there for this extraordinary opening. I'm a huge fan of Haiti and I love new things, and this hotel was a fine example of the direction Haiti is taking to accept tourists with open arms.