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1st hotel at Piarco Int’l Airport breaks ground, investment/design by NYC-based Urbahn

Developers and designers STAGES Group and Urbahn Architects, who are the founders of Prestige Hotels Limited, investor SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund, Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT), and political leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark
the beginning of construction of a new Four Points by Sheraton hotel and conference center at the International Airport Estates at the Piarco International Airport. Prestige Hotels Limited is the owner and asset manager of the upcoming Four Points by Sheraton, which will be the first hotel to operate within the grounds of one of Trinidad and Tobago’s two main airports.

Prestige Hotels Limited is 70% owned by STAGES Group and 30% by Urbahn Architects. STAGES Group, through its affiliate, STAGES Consulting Engineers Ltd., with offices in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Guyana, is the lead developer, investor, construction manager, and MEP engineer for the new hotel. Urbahn Architects of New York City is co-developer, co-investor, and architect. Washington, D.C.-based SEAF, via its SEAF Caribbean SME Growth Fund, is an additional equity partner. The partners have provided 40% of
the capital cost of the project as equity. Debt financing of 60% of the project cost will be facilitated by a consortium of several Caribbean-based and international financial institutions. Marriott International, which owns the Four Points by Sheraton brand, will serve as property manager. The property is the first Four Points by Sheraton managed directly by Marriott in the Caribbean.

The new hotel will be the first hospitality project in Trinidad and Tobago to be developed in compliance with the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) international ethical business conduct and responsible investment standards. For details, please review: https://esg-central.com/what-are-esg-principles/

The project is located a mere 800 feet, or 244 meters, from the airport terminal, offering unparalleled convenience and service geared toward business travelers and air crews visiting the two-island nation. The hotel will serve as the anchor tenant and first component to operate within the new 167-acre International Airport Estates, also known as the North Aviation Business Park – the Caribbean’s first Airport City. It will ultimately contain distinct zones for hotels, international trade, entertainment, offices, retail, warehousing and cargo facilities, and aviation services. The development site is the first parcel to be developed within the International Airport Estates. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, via its agency, Trinidad Tourism Limited (TTL), has granted tax and custom duty incentives for the development in accordance with the Tourism Development Act.

“As a Trinidad and Tobago-based business, we are proud to lead the team of local and international investors, designers, and manufacturers, who will bring this US$25 million (TT$170 million) project to a successful completion. Upon opening, expected in early 2025, this hotel property will predominantly serve business travelers, air crews, transit passengers, tourists, and guests of international and local events and conferences,” shared Tamarco Edwards, Deputy Chairman and Founder of STAGES Group.

“The architecture of the new 154-room, four-story hotel will reflect local aesthetic preferences and materials, while complying with the Four Points by Sheraton brand design standards. The Caribbean-specific elements will include roof canopies, rosewood exterior panels, and locally sourced blue limestone finishes. An outdoor dining and lounging areas will also reference the Trinidad and Tobago’s love of outdoor entertaining,“ explained Urbahn Principal Natale V. Baranco, AIA, LEED AP.

“SEAF is proud to partner with STAGES Group and Urbahn Architects in bringing international best practices in real estate development and construction to Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean, particularly in the areas of energy efficiency and resilient design. The Four Points by Sheraton hotel is the first of what we hope are many more future joint projects between SEAF’s Caribbean-focused private equity fund, STAGES and Urbahn,” said Hubertus Jan van der Vaart, Co-founder and Chief Investment Officer of SEAF.

The property is among the first hotels to be developed within the grounds of numerous Caribbean and Central American airports. This market segment has been underserved as to date hospitality developers in the region focused mainly on resort and downtown-type projects. “In the near future, Prestige Hotels plans to expand its portfolio with the addition of both airport and resort hotels, including new properties in Guyana and on the island of Tobago,” added Barranco.

“Our vision is to construct a facility which concurrently enhances the business traveller and tourism experience by creating a business centre and an overnight oasis,” said Inskip B. Pollonais, Chairman of Prestige Hotels Ltd. and Chairman of STAGES Group Inc.

GSAL Designs Ltd. of Trinidad and Tobago serves as the local architectural partner. Twelve Thirteen ID of Atlanta, Georgia is the hospitality design consultant; FoodStrategy Inc. of Rockville, Maryland provides food services consulting; and the Dominican Republic-based ReCua is the landscape architect.

The approximately eight-acre hotel site, located at the southwest corner of the park adjacent to the Oropuna River, was acquired from AATT under a 99-year lease. The Authority has already extended the infrastructure connections to the lot. The hotel will operate a guest shuttle service to and from the airport.

Piarco International Airport (IATA: POS, ICAO: TTPP) is an international airport serving the island of  Trinidad  and is one of two international airports in  Trinidad and Tobago . The airport is located 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Downtown of Port of Spain, in the town of Piarco. It is the seventh busiest airport in the Caribbean in terms of passengers served. The airport is also the primary hub and operating base for the country’s national airline, as well as the Caribbean’s largest airline, Caribbean Airlines. The airport has direct scheduled service to destinations in the United States, Canada, Central America, South America, and Europe. It is also a significant transit hub for the Southern Caribbean and serves as the
primary connection point for many passengers travelling from Guyana.

Project Design and Construction Methods
The hotel’s design and aesthetic have been adapted to incorporate local flavor, including the festive blend of cultures, atmosphere, and outdoor living that are specific to Trinidad and Tobago. The property will feature outdoor recreation and dining spaces and lush landscaping, while the interiors and building facades will showcase locally sourced materials.

The four-story building plan is L-shaped, wrapped around the outdoor amenity and pool areas. On the first floor, a double height space extending the full depth of the building, housing the lobby and restaurant, will be framed with large windows on the east and west building facades to offer open views of the outdoor dining section, pool, and main entrance.

A 4,574-square foot/425-square meter conference, convention and banquet facility with flexible meeting rooms and a glass walled pre-function space, as well as a fitness center, will both be conveniently located adjacent to the lobby. The food and beverage facilities will include a full-service restaurant with private and al fresco dining options, and two full-service bars, including a 20 seat covered exterior pool bar. The resort-like setting of the exterior private courtyard will have a multi-depth level pool and hot tub set within beautifully landscaped surroundings of stonework and plantings.

Guest rooms will complete the remainder of the first-floor plan, as well as the upper floors. On the second floor, guest room on either side of the lobby will be connected by a glass-enclosed bridge that will span over the double height space. There will be a total of 154 guest rooms, including Double Queen, ADA Double Queen-King, King, Executive King, and King Suite.

The Property will offer an array of amenities including multiple guestroom accommodation types, a 425 square meter subdividable convention and banquet facility, a cutting-edge fitness center, a Full service restaurant with private and al fresco dining capabilities, and two full-service bars, including a 20 seat covered exterior pool bar. The resort like setting of the exterior private yard has a multi- depth level pool and hot tub set in a property beautifully landscaped with local stonework and plantings.

“Exterior finishes mirroring the local landscape will be used for the façade, in a combination of sand and bronze toned stucco, silver aluminum composite material (ACM) panels, composite cladding in a rosewood finish, and locally sourced limestone veneer,” explains Urbahn Associate Ryan E. Bieber, LEED AP. Limestone and rosewood will also be featured in the lobby and restaurant, as well as at the pool and outdoor dining area. A dramatic limestone-clad backdrop wall featuring a waterfall element will define the pool area
and provide a focal point for the view from the restaurant and lobby. Lush tropical trees and plants, and a large shade canopy, will complete the relaxing outdoor guest space.

Aluminum framework, developed by the Columbian manufacturer FORSA SA, will be used to accelerate the installation of the lightweight concrete structure. According to STAGES Project Director Gerald Lodie, “The majority of the building will be constructed utilizing load bearing integral concrete core floor and wall units that will be standardized based on the dimensions of each guest room type. In addition, concrete beams and columns will be utilized for larger span and specialized spaces on the first floor.”

Engineers at FORSA used the design documents to produce customized U-shaped tunnel forms, including cutouts for doors and windows, that will enable the floors and walls to be installed as one monolithic pour. The forms can be reused for up to as many as 100 pours, as long as they are properly maintained and cleaned between uses, thereby reducing construction cost and allowing the builders to use them on other projects. The roof structure, as well as the canopies above street level, will also be installed utilizing the
aluminum frames. The building will sit on grade, bearing on strip footing foundations.

“The FORSA technology provides a uniform, light-weight, and smooth-faced concrete structural system. It also accelerates the construction process, making it financially and technologically beneficial for multi-story buildings, such as the new Four Points by Sheraton hotel,” added STAGES Senior Project Manager Martinez Montrose, MCIOB.

Due to the ongoing international supply chain challenges, the project team has procured as many locally sourced materials as possible. Rebar and concrete, as well as many of the interior finishes and stone cladding, will be produced in Trinidad and Tobago. Where required, other materials that will need to be sourced overseas have been procured as long lead items to accommodate for anticipated delivery delays so that the overall project schedule will not be impacted.

The hotel is designed to meet the international Greenkey hotel certification criteria. The property will feature an extensive rooftop solar panel array, which will provide a significant portion of the hotel’s energy demand.

Environmental responsibility and resilience in design and construction
The development and design team focused one creating an environmentally responsible, energy efficient, and resilient property. The Urbahn and STAGES teams employed state-of-the-art design technologies, including building information modeling (BIM), WUFI dynamic simulations of coupled heat and moisture transfers, and thermal modeling for energy. These efforts aided in maintaining the highest design, construction and operations standards required by Marriott International’s 360 sustainability and social impact program; the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) guidelines, and the Greenkey hotel certification criteria, as well as the local Town and Country Planning Division requirements.

The substantial array of photovoltaic solar panels on the building’s south-facing roof will provide energy for the hotel’s hot water system and onsite electric vehicle charging ports.

During construction, the FORSA concrete formwork technology will minimize construction waste and provide a high degree of extreme weather resiliency. The usage of locally sourced building and decorative materials throughout will help reduce the building’s carbon footprint.

STAGES Consulting Engineers
STAGES Consulting Engineers Limited (STAGES) is a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy firm that focuses on mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire and life safety design services for the built environment. The firm’s offices are strategically located in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Guyana to efficiently provide services to both public and private sectors throughout the Caribbean.

STAGES’ portfolio of engineering and construction management projects includes upgrades at the 17,500-square foot residence of the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in Queens Park Savannah, Trinidad; the headquarters office of Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited in Chaguaramas, Trinidad; the 150-bed Arima Hospital and the Plaza O’Meara shopping center, both in Arima, Trinidad; the Massey Stores in Glencoe, Trinidad; the Egypt Village Apartment Complex in Chaguanas, Trinidad; the 12-story, 900-car Furness Carpark in Port of Spain, Trinidad; and the California Youth Centre in Woodbrook, Trinidad.

Urbahn Architects
Urbahn Architects is a full-service planning and design firm based in New York City. Since its founding in 1945, Urbahn has designed projects for organizations and institutions that operate in the hospitality, multi-family residential, healthcare, education, justice, science, transportation, and infrastructure sectors. ENR New York magazine recently recognized Urbahn as the 2019 Design Firm of the Year. Building Design & Construction ranks Urbahn as the 92 nd largest architectural firm in the U.S.

Five principals lead the firm: Donald E. Henry, Jr., AIA, LEED AP; Natale V. Barranco, AIA, LEED AP; Martin D. Stein, AIA; Rafael Stein, AIA; and Ranabir Sengupta, AIA, LEED AP. Urbahn served as the architect for some of the U.S.’ most iconic structures, including the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Control at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, and the Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Batavia, IL. The construction value of Urbahn’s on-going domestic and international projects exceeds $500 million.

The firm’s recent hospitality and multi-family project portfolio includes the master plan and criteria development for the Georgetown Marriott Resort Hotel and Gaming Center in Georgetown, Guyana; the 140-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Timehri, Guyana; the $70 million Tides North residential development in Arverne, NY; the Paradise Crossing Lifestyle Community and Recreation Center in Jamaica; and the Farmingdale State College Orchard Hall Residences in Farmingdale, NY.

Urbahn’s other recent work includes renovation of the New York Surrogate’s Courthouse historic skylight in Manhattan; the New York City Hall Mayoral Offices and Emergency Situation Center and Public Health Lab Redevelopment Master Plans in New York, NY; the Harborview Ambulatory Center Brooklyn at the VA Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY; Centro Medico Correccional in Bayamon, PR; the Jersey City Municipal Services Complex, Jersey City, NJ; the SUNY New Paltz Engineering Innovation Hub in New Paltz, NY; the Lehman College School of Nursing in the Bronx, NY; Usha Martin University Master Plan in Ranchi, India; the Columbia University Baker Field Facilities Master Plan in New York, NY; the College of New Jersey Science Complex in Ewing, NJ; and the P.S. 253Q Elementary School in Queens, NY.

SEAF
SEAF is a global impact private equity manager achieving meaningful and measurable impact results and positive financial returns by providing entrepreneurs in emerging markets with the capital, knowledge, and networks they need to grow their businesses. Since 1989, SEAF has made more than 430 investments across 41 funds in more than 31 countries.

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