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Île-à-Vache: “Abaka Bay” resort coveted by Martelly

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The American owner who originally started the project fears being ousted by men and women of power in Haiti

By Léo Joseph --- The development of “Abaka Bay” resort on Île-à-Vache, opposite the city of Les Cayes, in southern Haiti, could stumble on a major obstacle which could impair its scheduled progress. After working tirelessly for more than eight years and self-funding the work that has totally transformed this wonderful beach —originally a natural beauty —, as a tourist destination, Robert Dietrich says he sees signs that government forces are conspiring to remove him completely from the company he created. However, he hopes that the project to kick him out of the resort he created will fail in order to avoid the stigma of Haiti being identified as unfriendly to foreign investors, or discourage the disbandment of the few capitalists who have dared to take their chances with that country, despite the bad press, all too often justified, this poor country is getting, as a result of the behavior and practices of political leaders.

Persistent rumors going around the capital of Haiti, especially among people close to some ministerial departments, show the stranglehold that the ruling team possesses, especially on properties fronting on the beaches of the island of Île-à- Vache. Some suggest that the country’s leaders, in anticipation of a larger project of tourism development on the entire island, have launched an operation aimed at acquiring properties that will be turned into resorts, residential complexes and villas and apartments for the international jet set.

In addition, people who are given the name of political activists are fueling rumors that the men and women within the current administration would be trying to buy properties on Île-à-va che, even vying to get their hands on State owned lands.

Ile-a-Vache discovered through “Abaka Bay”

Were it not for the arrival of Robert Dietrich, an American native from Detroit, in the state of Michigan, on Île-à-vache, in December 2002, no one would put this remote island in Southern Haiti on their beach holiday destination. The creation of the first seaside resort called “Port Morgan” by Frenchman Didier Boulard, with the financial support of such Haitian investors as Max Buteau, in November 1995, has somehow contributed to the creation of “Abaka Bay Resort.”

Indeed, Mr. Dietrich says that for the celebration of the first anniversary of his marriage to Melissa Sajous, whom he had met in Chicago, Illinois, in America, he decided to spend the weekend of December 28, 2002 in Port-Morgan with his wife.

On the destinations included in the tour program organized by the Management of Port Morgan was this beautiful beach which Dietrich said he fell in love with, he and Melissa, and since that very moment he felt he had become a captive of the island in general, but especially of this exquisite sandy white beach, which he later found out was called Abaka Bay. Before leaving the island, he began to design the project to come back and create a seaside resort. Married to Melissa Sajous, Robert Dietrich found natural partners in the person of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fernand Sajous. After the acquisition of more land on Île-à- vache, the first and foremost enchanting beach that was discovered in December 2002.

During the next decade, says Dietrich, his wife, her parents and he invested all they possessed in terms of human and financial resources in funding the construction and development of the area. He says he liquidated his children’s education fund, the profits from his parking business back in Detroit in addition to other resources he was able to divert into Abaka Bay. For years, he said further, with logistical support and the moral and material support of his family, the hotel, which now has 23 rooms, became the benchmark for both domestic and international tourists. Dietrich said that success crowned his efforts and he felt richly rewarded not only for the money spent transforming this place into a tourist destination that enchants visitors, but also — and mostly — for the employment he provided for young Haitians. All this makes him forget the 70-hour week work he put in to make his dream become reality.

Founded some ten years after Port-Morgan, the Abaka Bay resort surpasses it in scope, which has eighteen rooms available to accommodate tourists, and two or three others that are occupied by tenants with a long-term lease.

Without a doubt, Robert Dietrich thought he had found the perfect match with his wife, her parents and her family to turn this part of the island, which lies in front of the city of Les Cayes, about 200 kilometers from the capital into a true paradise for fun-seekers away from pollution and noise. Tourists who visit arrive by car to the city of Cayes from where they board a yacht which pro vides crossing to Île-à-vache, some 25 miles away.

When Michel Martelly discovered Abaka Bay

The pleasant experience by visitors to the resort, which is peddled across the country and abroad would have a beneficial impact, causing an endless comings and goings of tourists on the Island. Then Michel Martelly was one of those who had heard of it. Recently declared winner in the 2011 presidential election, he did not wait to take the oath of office to seek business opportunities.

Indeed, president-elect Michel Martelly made a lightning visit to Île-à-Vache and discovered Abaka Bay.

In the next issue, (To be continued…) The Martelly’s proposal.

Source: Haiti-Observateur

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