There are a couple of things you won’t get when you go to the Marriott Guyana to celebrate the country’s Jubilee – in addition to a spore free swimming pool, a mold free environment and recipes that are chocful of the prescribed ingredients to highlight the robust flavors of seasonal produce.
You won’t get any Banks Beer.
There is something insulting about a foreign hotel, any hotel for that matter, refusing to carry the country’s local fare.
And it’s not only insulting, it is disrespectful.
There are some who trace the contempt the Marriott has been showing Guyana and its employees back to its cocoon days; when the deal was spun in the boiler room of nefarious exchanges and murky accounting with kleptocrats like Winston Brassington ,whose face joins the collage of crooked elites who were given a blank check, a pen and a wink and a nod to go ahead and ‘do business’.
There is little doubt that the Marriott knows how the ‘business’ was done. They were negotiating amidst protests that did nothing to interrupt the deal that was positioning this company to have control over all aspects of its existence in Guyana, from its substandard construction to its discriminatory hiring and promoting practices. Marriott management seems to feel that Guyanese are a muzzled lot, neutered by corruption and terrorized by threats to sever dissenters from employment.
That is sound speculation and may explain why this foreign conglomerate would be brazen enough to set up shop in a country renowned for its brewing of beer and distilling of alcohol and not advertise, feature, these as premier options on its beverage list.
The Marriott Guyana refuses to carry Banks Beer, a beer that is so synonymous with good times- a la Guyana- that its insignia could have been a national emblem.
Why, is the question? Because, the bottles are ‘scuffed’, they say.
Well, at which Marriott is beer ever served in a bottle and not in a glass? If the bottle is scuffed the consumer will never know because the service at this elite hotel is supposed to be poured service, as in pouring the beverage into a glass before serving. And, to further thwart their reason for refusing to carry a Guyanese product, the scuff marks are not inside the bottle rendering the container a health hazard. The scuffs, per their claim, are visible and make the container unattractive, so they must be on the exterior surface of the bottle.
To their credit, Banks DIH has vigorously pursued the Marriott for their business like any product provider would. There was a high powered offensive mounted by senior Banks DIH officials assembled strategically to address every angle of doubt that the Marriott may have had.
And Guyanese should be grateful because securing the business of the Marriott would mean more revenue which translates to more taxes paid in to the economy which would translate to the financial availability to provide more services for the country – an oversimplification but an apt illustration none the less.
So, not one to be daunted, DIH did everything to accommodate this snub of the nation’s single brewery. When the Marriott said that the beer cartoons looked too bruised to stock on their shelves, DIH offered to package the beer in plastic crates, even though the ‘unattractive’ carton containers would have been behind walls and not in the view of the public. Plastic crates held no appeal to the swanky Mariott .They refused the product.
And, the Marriott doesn’t stock any of Guyana’s rum either.
Their notion is that the demand for Guyana’s assortment of rum, all award winners in their class, would not be robust enough for them to make a profit. DIH countered by offering a credit line with the option for unused product to be returned.
Not too convinced, the Marriot expressed concern about the frequency of delivery and supply and the regularity with which the shelves would have been stocked. DIH countered with an offer to designate a dedicated sales person whose primary assignment would be to cater exclusively to the hotel’s beverage needs.
The Marriott refused.
Just to cross check whether carrying the local alcoholic beverages was not usual for this hotel chain, we called the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino to verify what variety of local liquor is on their shelves, should we visit. With a gush of pride the young lady, clearly a native ‘Kittishan’ and not a heavily accented Spanish national, said that they served CSR – Cane Spirited Rothschild – a native product that was locally distilled. They also served Carib beer another local product brewed on the island.
And, to double check that this was not a unique occurrence, we called the Mariott Court Yard of Port of Spain, off the Gulf of Paria. After asking if they carried local liquor, the beverage service attendant, with a tone of mock admonition, declared that a person wouldn’t be in Trinidad if they weren’t served the local drinks. Then she went in to the variety of Old Oak Rum and the assortment of local brews; from Carib to Stag. Both countries also mentioned Ting, a local soft drink, like the DIH Cream Soda which hasn’t made the Marriott beverage list, either.
There has long been concern about the weekly promotions the Marriott runs for foreign beer like Carib and Heineken – events that are well attended by locals, inclusive of high-ranking government officials, who seem not to wonder why local products are never promoted.
But that cannot be said any more because, as Guyanese converge on the country for its fiftieth anniversary from colonialism, the Marriott has graciously agreed to carry the country’s Fifty Year Old Rum which will only be sold at half a million Guyana dollars per bottle, the equivalent to two thousand five hundred USD.
This would prove the Marriott right, when it proponed that the Guyana product is a slow-moving one and as such should not be stocked on their shelves. For the average Guyanese will not be able to buy even a shot of this liquor which would be – rough estimate – thirty one thousand, two hundred fifty Guyana dollars per 4.0z shot – 500,000/64 *4.
And it will be an infrequent occurrence for a visiting Guyanese to purchase a USD 2500 bottle of rum.
So the Mariott wins again. It has proven that it is more astute in running the business of liquor in a country that looks to liquor for a major contribution to its Gross Domestic Product.
There is absolutely no reason to think that the Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Tourism is not aware of the tactics the Marriott engage to refuse stocking local beer and rum – just as the Ministry of Health is aware of the hotels mold infestation and hasn’t moved to close its doors until it is mold free.
For reasons that remain baffling to many, the Marriott gets to grip tightly on to its free reign of operation, as if it were an heir loom, a family inheritance from an errant administration, while government seems strangely inerted in moving to correct the brazen disrespect this foreign conglomerate continues to show this nation.