By CHESTER ROBARDS
GRAYCLIFF is close to completing multi-million dollar upgrades and refurbishment of its West Hill Street property, while its US airport lounges continue to expand and sale rise, its chief executive told Tribune Business recently.
Paolo Garzaroli said Graycliff was steadily shifting back to pre-recession business levels, even as it continues to add new features and more stores.
The next big attraction at the West Hill street compound will be a chocolate factory, which could have its grand opening by mid-summer, according to Mr Garzaroli.
Excited about opening the very first chocolate factory where guests can walk through the process and make their own, personalised chocolates at the end of the tour, Mr Garzaroli said the new chocolate factory could employ 15-20 Bahamians when it is opened.
To make way for the chocolate factory, Graycliff has relocated its on-site cigar rolling production from the front of the property to the rear, and upgraded its cigar lounge.
There, through a glass window, aficionados and the curious cigar smoker can watch Cuban experts roll Graycliff's renowned cigars.
Mr Garzaroli said moving the cigar factory to the rear of the property allowed them to create a new lounge, which will be much like Graycliff's airport lounges, and render its Humidor Churrascaria restaurant relatively free of cigar smoke.
"It now allows us to fumigate so the smoke doesn't bother hotel guests," he said. "Guests can now dine at the Churrascaria without smoke."
Mr Garzaroli also revealed that Graycliff will be adding a pizza parlour and Beer Garden to its offerings by the end of June 2012.
And Graycliff has retooled its main dining experience to lure in a larger lunch crowd , promising lunch within an hour or the lunch is free. Mr Garzaroli said the corporate lunch has been doing well since its launch.
"We put more focus on lunch, and lunch business has picked up," he said.
Last year, Graycliff announced its plans to create a $25 million cultural village directly across the street from its property.
Mr Garzaroli said they are still on track to create the cultural village, as soon as funding has been finalized.
Meanwhile, construction on another Graycliff Divan and boutique is underway in Cincinnati, where the company took over several of the airport's smoke rooms. It is part of the company's plan to expand its airport locations across the US.
Mr Garzaroli said the retail side of Graycliff's business has been up year-over-year, and is "headed in the right direction", with negotiations to open more airport lounges in the pipeline.
"Sales are up across the board," said Mr Garzaroli.