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HomeNewsArchivesHOTELIER: SINBAD A BOON DESPITE PROBLEMS

HOTELIER: SINBAD A BOON DESPITE PROBLEMS

Despite some disappointments and misunderstandings surrounding the upcoming Sinbad Soul Music Festival, it will still be a boon to the islands, a hotel official said Thursday.
"There will still be more people on this island over Memorial Day weekend than there ever have been before — ever," said Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association and general manager of Bolongo Beach Resort.
Doumeng said he thinks some of the confusion, including reports that no down payments have been made for hotel rooms reserved for tour operators, is due to the departure from usual procedures.
"The tour operators never pay in advance," Doumeng said. He added, however, that payment in advance was part of the contract made with the Sinbad production company.
"I've worked with these tour operators before," he said. "They don't pay up front."
Doumeng also said it was a mistake to give money to the production company before seeing a media schedule.
"The government should have insisted on seeing a schedule of media placement before they turned over any money," Doumeng said, referring to the $500,000 the V.I. government fronted for advertising.
Nick Pourzal, managing director of Marriott Frenchman's Reef Hotel, said "there's no doubt we're going to be better off for having this festival, but it's not going to be on the timetable we expected."
Pourzal said the rooms at Frenchman's earmarked for Sinbad have not all been sold. But he said calls for last-minute reservations are just as strong as they were when the Sinbad Soul Music Festival was first announced.
"We have a waiting list we can always use if all the rooms are not sold by the tour operators," Pourzal said. "But they have assured us that everything will be sold in the next seven or eight days."
Pourzal said his people were told that Sinbad's production company will step up its advertising and marketing in the next week.
"Part of the problem is trying to do in eight weeks what should take a year to pull together," Pourzal said. "This is a fast-track operation."
Pourzal said though he expects the event will be good for the island, "we need to look at all the money that has been spent, not just the hotel rooms that have been given away."
Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the Hotel Association, did not return calls to her office Wednesday or Thursday, nor did Manny Centeno, the local point person for the festival.

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