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Friday, August 19, 2022


Nick Pourzal, a mainstay and prime mover of the tourism industry in the territory, was reported Monday to be on the way out at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, where he has been the top executive for more than two decades.
Knowledgeable sources said the imminent departure of Pourzal, president and general manager of the Virgin Islands' largest hotel, was connected to a visit Monday by a top official of Prime Motor Inns, which owns the Reef and has been negotiating to sell the property to the Marriott chain, which has operated it in recent years.
Reached by telephone at his hotel office Monday night, Pourzal said, "I have no comment. It's too early for me to even discuss it."
His wife, Karen, who operates a boutique at the 500-room hotel at the entrance to St. Thomas Harbor, said, "It's all kind of up in the air right now. I'm kind of in limbo myself."
Speaking from home around 9:30 p.m., she said her husband was in meetings "there with them" at the hotel.
According to the sources, Prime Motor Inns had also been in negotiations with Pourzal in recent weeks to buy out his contract.
Pourzal and fellow veteran hotelier Dick Doumeng have between them served as president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel Association (now the Hotel and Tourism Association) for most of the last quarter century.
Pourzal has been both an outspoken critic and an open ally of top V.I. government officials over the years, depending on circumstances, and has taken the lead on numerous occasions in lobbying to get government actions to benefit the hospitality industry. Gov. Roy L. Schneider appointed him in 1996 to a three-year term on the Port Authority board.
The sources said it was common knowledge within Frenchman's Reef circles in recent days that Pourzal's departure was imminent due to differences with Prime management, but the expectation was that it would be on his own terms and would not come before the change of ownership. The arrival Monday of the Prime official was unexpected, they said.
Pourzal oversaw a $52 million renovation of the Reef in 1997 necessitated not only by the hotel's age but also by damages from Hurricanes Marilyn and Bertha.

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