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11/28/2011

Digicel Group to Build 173-Room Port-au-Prince Hotel to Operate Under Marriott Hotels & Resorts Brand; Will Generate 175 Jobs in Haiti

Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel Clinton Foundation Instrumental in Bringing the Two Companies Together.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti – In Haiti, where new economic activity is critical in the midst of the tremendous efforts to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2010, Marriott International (NYSE: MAR) announced today it

would open the $45 million, 173-room Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel, under management agreement with ownership group Unigestion Holding S.A., a subsidiary of Digicel Group Ltd.  In addition to creating 175 new jobs, Marriott will invest in hospitality training to benefit Haiti's tourism sector.        

Digicel Group is responsible for designing and building the hotel and chose Marriott International’s flagship Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand as its operating partner under long-term management agreement. Construction on the property is expected to begin in 2012, with opening expected in mid-2014. (view video)

With roughly 500 hotel rooms operating in the city, the Port-au-Prince Marriott will add 173 rooms to the capital city and create much needed lodging and meeting space for business travelers seeking to invest in the country, non-government organizations (NGOs), humanitarian organizations, reconstruction teams, financial institutions and visitors to the capital. Port-au-Prince is located in the southern part of the country on the Gulf of Gonave and is home to approximately 20 percent of the country’s population.

The Clinton Foundation has worked closely with Marriott and Digicel to develop this project. The Foundation connected Marriott and Digicel knowing their mutual interests in the hotel sector, visited proposed construction sites with the parties and facilitated introductions to the Haitian government and the Haitian Tourism Association.

“This new hotel project will stand as a symbol of Haiti’s recovery, providing much needed jobs to the Haitian people and encouraging foreigners to visit, invest and work in Port-au-Prince," said President Clinton. "My Foundation has worked with both Marriott and Digicel, and encouraged them to form this partnership.  Their investment proves that Haiti is open for business and on the path to economic recovery."

Digicel Chairman and founder, Denis O’Brien, commented; “Working with Marriott International to bring the flagship Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand to Haiti communicates confidence in the country’s outlook and is a huge step towards attracting more long-term investment into the country. With lodging options severely limited in Port-au-Prince, this is indeed bright news.”

Digicel is the single largest private investor in Haiti and the country’s largest telecoms provider. Mr. O’Brien is also founder and patron of Digicel Foundation, a charitable organization actively involved in rebuilding Haiti which to date has constructed a total of 70 schools. The Digicel Foundation has collaborated with the Clinton Global Initiative, which was founded by President Clinton.  As chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative’s Haiti Action Network, Mr. O’Brien has been instrumental in supporting 80 support organizations in Haiti and reconstructing the iconic Iron Market in Port-au-Prince.

“Haiti is in great need of quality hotels today, and for the foreseeable future," said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s president and chief operating officer.  “This hotel is one more signal that Haiti is open for business. That’s what we’re telling the world today as part of our announcement. Of course, this is a long-term goal with tremendous needs still need to be met, but we believe we can make a difference in Haiti by injecting capital, creating jobs and developing the human talent that can help lift this country over time back to its rightful place as one of the top destinations in the Caribbean.

“The selection of the Marriott Hotels & Resorts brand to be constructed in Port-au-Prince is very deliberate.  We aspire for a hotel of our flagship brand to be located in every capital in countries where we operate.  Over time, as Haiti continues to heal, rebuild and develop, our hotel will not only help the many organizations serving Haiti now, but would also stimulate business and attract leisure visitors in the future. Combined with the local businesses we can support, this is the ‘multiplier effect’ that travel and tourism brings to the economies of emerging countries.

"Marriott has special gratitude for our Haitian associates, 1,000 of whom work at our South Florida hotels, who urged us to do what we know best in Haiti and build this hotel," Sorenson added.

Since the earthquake, the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., which has approximately 250 Haitian associates, has been involved in two relief missions to Haiti delivering clothing, food and water, toiletries, rebuilding homes, orphanages, schools and other humanitarian support.

Associates of Marriott's South Florida hotels have raised $200,000 to support recovery efforts.  In 2010, the J. Willard and Alice Marriott Foundation contributed $500,000 to the Red Cross for immediate earthquake relief and resettlement efforts.  (Bill Marriott blogs about Haiti hotel.)

The Port-au-Prince Marriott, which will be located in the Haute Turgeau area of the city, will offer 168 rooms and five suites with Marriott’s signature amenities and features, including premium bedding, high-speed Internet (LAN and wireless) and flat-screen televisions.  Dining options will include a casual restaurant, a lobby bar and lounge and 24-hour room service.  The hotel will include about 428 square meters (4,606 square feet) of flexible meeting space, a 150-square-meter (1,614-square-foot) fitness center, swimming pool, and sundries shop/marketplace.

ABOUT MARRIOTT HOTELS & RESORTS

Marriott Hotels & Resorts continues to inspire and provide a balanced life on the road for discerning and high-achieving business and leisure travelers, offering warm, professional service; sophisticated yet functional guest room design; lobby spaces that facilitate working, dining and socializing; restaurants and bars serving international cuisine prepared simply and from the freshest ingredients; meeting and event spaces and services that are gold standard; and expansive, 24-hour fitness facilities. All Marriott hotels participate in the award winning Marriott Rewards frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information, visit www.MarriottHotels.com.

Visit Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) for company information. For more information or reservations, please visit our website at www.marriott.com , and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com

ABOUT DIGICEL GROUP
After ten years of operation, Digicel Group Limited has 11.5 million customers across its 32 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific. The company is renowned for delivering best value, best service and best network.

Digicel is the lead sponsor of Caribbean, Central American and Pacific sports teams, including the Special Olympics teams throughout these regions. Digicel sponsors the West Indies cricket team and is also the title sponsor of the Digicel Caribbean Cup. In the Pacific, Digicel is the proud sponsor of several national rugby teams and also sponsors the Vanuatu cricket team.  Digicel also runs a host of community-based initiatives across its markets and has set up Digicel Foundations in Jamaica, Haiti and Papua New Guinea which focus on educational, cultural and social development programmes.

In 2004, Digicel developed Digicel Rising Stars – an annual talent show to support aspiring young music artists in the Caribbean. The show has spanned the Eastern Caribbean, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago ranking as one of the top-rated shows.

Digicel is incorporated in Bermuda and its markets comprise: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Nauru, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, St Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and Vanuatu. Digicel also has coverage in St. Martin and St. Barts in the Caribbean.

Visit www.digicelgroup.com for more information.

ABOUT THE WILLIAM J. CLINTON FOUNDATION
Building on a lifetime of public service, President Bill Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. Since 2001 President Clinton's vision and leadership have resulted in nearly 4 million people benefiting from lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment; more than 12,000 U.S. schools building healthier learning environments; more than 26,000 micro-entrepreneurs, small business owners, and smallholder farmers improving their livelihoods and communities; and more than 2.2 million tons of greenhouse gases cut or abated in some of the world's largest cities. And President Clinton has redefined the way we think about giving and philanthropy through his Clinton Global Initiative, whose members have made more than 2,100 commitments that have already improved the lives of 400 million people in more than 180 countries.

Connect with thomas.marder@marriott.com or paula.butler@marriott.com.