‘Transition to transform’
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President, Dr. Irfaan Ali (centre); CEO of Go-Invest, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop (left) and Co-Director of Arimu Investments Inc., Lorenzo Alphonso, do the ceremonial turning of the sod to initiate  construction of the US$15M Aiden by Best Western Hotel at the corner of Robb and Oronoque Streets, Georgetown (Delano Williams photo)
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali (centre); CEO of Go-Invest, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop (left) and Co-Director of Arimu Investments Inc., Lorenzo Alphonso, do the ceremonial turning of the sod to initiate construction of the US$15M Aiden by Best Western Hotel at the corner of Robb and Oronoque Streets, Georgetown (Delano Williams photo)

–President Ali urges private sector at sod-turning for new US$15M ‘Aiden’ Hotel
–says development is not ‘guesswork,’ there must be clarity of vision

THOUGH progress is anticipated across every section of Guyana’s economy, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, has said that moving forward and embracing this potential growth and development would require transition, not just physically, but also in the way people act, think, celebrate Guyana and conduct business.

President Dr Irfaan Ali delivering the feature address at the sod-turning ceremony for the hotel

“We have to transition to create the transformation we want. It is not only physical, it is the human transformation, the way of thinking, acting, celebration of country, the way we do business and organisational culture. It has to be incorporated into every aspect of our lives and every level of service has to be transformed.

“It should be something to take us to optimisation,” President Ali said on Saturday during his remarks at a ceremonial sod-turning event for the construction of a US$15 million Aiden by Best Western Hotel at the corner of Robb and Oronoque Streets, Georgetown.

Guyana, with its new-found oil wealth and thriving productive sectors, is on the cusp of economic transformation and has already received the title of “investment capital” of the Region and possibly the world. Positioning ahead of this economic ascension is essential, since it is only through this that businesses and individuals would be able to capitalise on the opportunities which would accrue to Guyana.

Co-Director of Arimu Investments Inc., Lorenzo Alphonso

The developers of the Aiden Hotel, Arimu Investments Inc., are seen as trailblazers in this regard, as they have placed themselves in a position to accommodate expatriates and tourists, who have already set their sights on Guyana. The US$15 million project, President Ali said, demonstrates what he means by ‘transition to transform.’

“The developers went after a transformative project and did so in a way to optimise the potential in the design of the project… we have a culture that we like to do things ourselves, but the new standards that will come will necessitate us investing in human-resource talent. And, this shows the proactive nature of this group [Arimu] in researching and understanding before investing,” the Head-of-State reasoned.
Arimu’s ‘transition’ is one to emulate, especially if the barriers to business development are to be removed.

“We need to break down barriers within the business environment and this calls for a new wave of thinking in the private sector, in order for them to capitalise on the opportunities,” President Ali said.

An artist’s impression of the proposed nine-storey Aiden Hotel

The President acknowledged, however, that the removal of barriers cannot be a one-man task, as it would require a consolidation of efforts to have true progress and advancement. He advised private-sector stakeholders to form consortiums, since this would not only allow businesses to grow effectively, but also create an avenue for there to be forward and backward linkages to critical sectors such as petroleum and agriculture.

“So, whatever it is, we have to build the capacity and start now… In every sphere of development, you can be guaranteed the government will be backing every Guyanese. The government has a responsibility to ensure that the investment climate is secured [sic] and that investors are protected,” President Ali said.

One of the immediate aims of the government in creating an environment that is conducive for business, is to “flat-line” bureaucracy through the creation of a single-window approval system. In referring directly to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the City Council, President Ali said no modern society could operate with an approval system of two to three years.

“We have to break down the little walls of God that believe they have a God-given right to hold approval on a desk and you to prostrate before them before you get your approval. Those days are old-and-gone days, we have to transition to a professional approach, a business-oriented approach and that is why we are moving aggressively on the single-window approval system,” the Head-of-State affirmed.

Development, the President said, is not “guesswork,” there needs to be clarity of vision. This vision must be private-sector driven, people-centred and results- oriented. The government’s vision is already clear, and while policy changes are pertinent in creating a conducive and enabling environment, the right infrastructure is also required.

“We need to have the right infrastructure. We have to build and modernise and do what is necessary for growth and development, but there cannot be an overreach and over spending,” President Ali said, noting that the critical infrastructural links have to and will be created.
Already, the government is working to reduce the cost of energy by at least 50 per cent through an energy mix and building roads and bridges, which will serve as arteries to development, linking communities and villages even in remote areas.

Importantly too, as said by the President, is investment in training and development for every Guyanese, who should be in a position to capitalise as well on the potential opportunities. While the government is doing its part in this regard, he said it is important for the private sector to also invest in its people and create more employment opportunities.

Arimu Investments Inc., through its new investment, will be contributing to the further employment of Guyanese by creating 150 jobs during the construction phase and 50 jobs after the hotel is commissioned. Co-Director of Arimu, Lorenzo Alphonso, said the Aiden is a boutique-style hotel under the world renowned Best Western Hotel and Resorts. The Aiden hotel is a trendy collection of laid-back boutique hotels that blends cool, casual charm with an eclectic neighbourly feel. No two hotels are alike, with each designed to reflect the unique personality of each community/country they serve. Guests would discover local flair and imaginative design with Aiden as their welcoming and stylish host.

“The Aiden being developed by Arimu Investments Inc. would be the 12th in existence worldwide, the first to be completed in South America, the only one in the Caribbean and Guyana’s first franchised boutique hotel,” Alphonso said.

The Aiden Midtown Georgetown would be a nine-storey, 74,000 square-foot modern building, equipped with 101 executive smart rooms. The hotel will also include amenities such as conference rooms, an English Restaurant and bar, coffee shop, gym/sauna area, executive boardrooms and a terrace bar.

The main feature of the Aiden hotel would be its rooftop bar and lounge, featuring nothing less than international furnishings, lights, sounds and designs.

“It would be the first bar in Guyana to feature a humidor with a collection of world-renowned cigars. The invisible, styled rails and barriers concept would give a feeling of dining with the stars and a sight second to none,” Alphonso said.

The Aiden would be providing guests with executive chauffeur services, shuttle bus tours around Guyana, Demerara River tours and also engaging the aviation sector for helicopter tour packages around the city.

Arimu’s plan to partner with tour operators is one which should be adopted by other businesses, as Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, believes that it is important for stakeholders to expand their plans to integrate local tour operators. In her view, those linkages would widen the market to benefit every stakeholder.

Guyana, she said, has become a preferred destination for travel, so facilities such as the Aiden Hotel and other tour operations would be well-placed to support the new thrust.

“The concept of expanding the tourism sector is not an idle dream of this administration… the fact that we would have [sic] facilitated this investment [the Aiden hotel] speaks to the seriousness of the government in getting the agenda moving,” Minister Walrond reasoned.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, also recognised Arimu’s step, which is in line with the government’s aggressive economic agenda for the country.

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