April 17, 2012 is the last day
by Inverness Fanboy
Many in the Barbados tourism and hotel industry are crying the blues, but Peach and Quiet Hotel is going out with a bang after the ‘best ever’ winter tourist season in a quarter of a century since Margaret and Adrian Loveridge first took over. After spending a third of their lives doing 18 hour workdays, it’s time for the couple to back off a little. To them I say “Guid Luck!”
Peach and Quiet at Inch Marlow wasn’t always an award-winning hotel, but 25 years ago when the Loveridges bought the ‘fixer-upper’ they believed that if they worked hard enough and cared enough they could make a go of it. The hotel itself is situated on what is one of the most beautiful outpoints on the island – but without the hardworking owners and staff, it would only be a dead collection of buildings much like some of the abandoned and rundown establishments that now dot the coastlines of Barbados and every other Caribbean island.
The glory days of Caribbean tourism when every hotel was full with little effort are long, long gone. Those establishments and tourism economies that really care about delivering their best product and shaping that product to suit changing times and client expectations, survived and will continue to survive. Many didn’t survive though, and many more won’t survive the next few years.
The contrast between guest reviews at TripAdvisor for Peach and Quiet and the governnment-owned Gems Hotels is telling – and on a larger level well illustrates a good example of where Barbados’ national tourism product can improve. There are ‘better’, ‘cheaper’, ‘newer’ and more upscale hotels in Barbados, but year after year the same clientele return to Peach and Quiet, often booking a year or more in advance just to make sure that there will be room during their chosen time. For many, Peach and Quiet is the primary destination, rather than Barbados itself.
The Loveridges eschewed the mass-marketed, low-margin tourism model and instead provided excellent value in their chosen niche. Visitors could find cheaper hotels, lesser hotels for the same money, and better hotels for a whole lot more money but nothing that really delivered the same experience and service levels for anywhere near the price. The bar was an ‘honour system’ where guests could pour a punch or take a beer and sign the list. That trust and simple welcoming gesture helped to define the mood of Peach and Quiet. (Editor’s note: Obviously Goin wid Owen or Cliverton were not P&Q guests because that system wouldn’t have worked!) 🙂
The repeat visitors and loyal clientele meant that Peach and Quiet didn’t have to spend horrendous sums on advertising to lure new customers every year. A newsletter emailed to the existing customer base filled most of the rooms six and nine months in advance with a reminder that certain weeks were ‘filling up fast’! 90% occupancy was often the norm when other establishments struggled to do half that number.
On a national level the Barbados Tourism Authority is constantly spending huge sums ($100 million plus annually) forever chasing after new one-time clients in new markets instead of devoting sufficient energies and financial resources to improving and maintaining our product quality and offerings. Sure, any business needs new customers, but developing and maintaining a loyal customer base is always a better business plan than forever seeking new single-visit clients. You would never know that by watching the BTA.
Perhaps the BTA should look at the operational strategies of Peach and Quiet and several of the other similarly successful operations on the island. The ‘same old’ methods can work year after year if they are the right methods. Product quality is king. Purchased artificial hype and promotion are secondary. That is the lesson that Barbados should learn from Adrian and Margaret Loveridge’s success.
April 11, 2012 – Barbados Today: Shut Down
November 3, 2011 – BFP: Telegraph Travel gives Barbados hotel 10/10 for value, 8/10 overall
August 24, 2011 – Barbados Today: For Sale
January 18, 2011 – BFP: How a small Barbados hotel thrived with hard work and the right attitude