By Valencia Grant, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
Release No. 91 of 2016
Photo Caption: Royal Plaza Rear Elevation
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 11TH, 2016 (PRESS SEC) – Mr. John Zuliani, President of the Royal St. Kitts Hotel, will break ground tomorrow, Tuesday, July 12th, on the Royal Plaza. The shopping plaza opens its doors to the public on November 1st, 2017.
Located in the parking lot of the Royal St. Kitts Hotel (the former Jack Tar) in Frigate Bay, the 11-unit commercial development will provide business tenants with more than 17,000 square feet of indoor space. It will have seven outdoor patios ranging from 500 to 1,000 square feet, allowing for al fresco (outdoor) dining. The parking lot will also be expanded from the current 35 spaces to about 125, to adequately support the Royal Plaza.
As of mid-June 2016, eight out of the 11 units had already been spoken for or pre-leased. “This is what actually led us to the concept of the Royal Plaza,” said Mr. John Zuliani, referring to the overheated demand for commercial real estate space, particularly in the Frigate Bay area.
“We saw that in Frigate Bay there is a serious shortage of commercial availability for people who are interested in opening up small businesses, so we decided to build a plaza to fill that small shortage. There will be a wide variety of different businesses; high-end jewelry stores, some boutique shopping stores, two beautiful restaurants – one has a concept around gourmet burgers and nice beer,” Mr. Zuliani added.
The Royal Plaza project will employ approximately 120 construction workers. Mr. Zuliani already employs about 125 workers at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel during the high season (December to April) and about 106 workers during the low season.
The Zuliani family has owned the 18-acre Royal St. Kitts Hotel property since 1983. John’s father, Archie, came to St. Kitts from Canada, bought the hotel, expanded it considerably by adding close to 200 rooms, and leased it to the Jack Tar hotel chain that made it an all-inclusive resort while his company managed the operations of the casino located at the leased premises.
In 2007, John and his two cousins, Carla and Natalia Bitton, came to St. Kitts from Toronto to reopen and manage the hotel, which had been closed since December 2002.
The refurbished hotel reopened on December 1st, 2007, and won the Most Creative Business Award at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority’s 2008-09 Awards Banquet. On April 25th, 2009, Royal St. Kitts Hotel launched its Vacation for Life ownership programme, featuring newly renovated condominiums that are approved under Citizenship-by-Investment.
“We have quite an aggressive expansion plan,” Mr. John Zuliani said, adding: “We currently have 224 hotel or condominium units. We plan on building the Royal Shopping Plaza, and we currently have approval for two more developments, which will add 40 more hotel/condominium units to our property. We plan on starting those after we complete the Royal Plaza, so we are able to move our construction team from one project to the other and keep them going without affecting the day-to-day hotel operations and the guest experience.”
Mr. Zuliani explained that the Royal St. Kitts Hotel has invested considerably in the common areas to bolster the guest experience. “We have a brand new restaurant called Splash, which is by our quiet pool. That’s open to the public so anyone can come and enjoy. We also have our brand new gym (located where the casino used to be) that will also be opening up to the public for membership availability, as well as for all of our guests of course. Then we have our brand new state-of-the-art conference facility, with three drop screens – one of which is 90 inches, which can accommodate up to 500 people. So we really feel that we’ve gotten all of the amenities that support a good hotel operation up to par, to really support our hotel guests,” he said.