Financing from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) will enable a US small business to upgrade a hotel in a popular tourist destination in Guatemala .

Opic will provide a US$375,000 loan to Jaguar Holdings Ltd, owned by J William Sharman, chairman and CEO of Lancaster Hotels and Resorts of Houston, for the acquisition, expansion and upgrade of an existing eight-room hotel in the Spanish colonial city of Antigua, near the capital of Guatemala City.

The project will expand the number of hotel rooms from eight to 10, upgrade all furnishings and add a rooftop terrace and courtyard pool. The hotel will be renamed Casa Encantada (Enchanted House) and marketed as a deluxe boutique hotel in Antigua .

Antigua is designated a Cultural Heritage Site by the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization because of its unique and well-preserved historical character. The town is well known as a tourist destination: 67% of tourist visitors to Guatemala visit Antigua , a total of 500,000 in 2001.

The project was approved by Opic’s new Small Business Center . The center was established in October 2002 to provide qualified small businesses the opportunity to utilise Opic’s resources with improved customer service, flexible coverage, and easier access through a streamlined approval process.