Tag Archives: Barbados Hotels

Barbados needs Hotwiring

barbados hotwire

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Last week I used a couple of web based hotel booking sites to reserve some accommodation in Charlotte and Kentucky for an upcoming trip.

One of them, Hotwire, offers a variety of star rated lodging where you do not actually know exactly which property you are staying at until pre-payment is made in full.

The advantage to the hotel is that they can hopefully dispose of unsold inventory, albeit at a lower than rack rate, a sales model known as ‘opaque’ and the guest benefits by getting a superior room at a discounted price.

As an exercise I used the same site to look at applying it to hotels on Barbados and was surprised to see a whole range of accommodation options from as little at US$64 including all taxes per night room only and as little as US$242 all-inclusive for two persons.

Hotwire makes their profit from a percentage, which I am told is between 20 and 25 per cent of the transaction amount.

It at least partially dispels the largely held myth that we are always an overly expensive destination, when comparing lodging choices.  Continue reading

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Barbados Government is the largest hotel operator in the country

“Only time will tell if it is either desirable or healthy for any Government to own more than one in five of the entire hotel room stock in a tourism dependent nation.”

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

When Government completes the acquisition of the former Almond Beach Village and Silver Sands Resort, it will become the single largest hotel owner on Barbados by far.

In fact, the Barbados Government will own more than double the number of rooms than any private sector company does: Hilton (354), Almond Beach Village (ABV) (396), Silver Sands (130), Blue Horizon (120) including almost 50 abandoned rooms that were never upgraded under the GEMS project, Pommarine (21).

Still to be explained is whether the purchase of Casuarina (280) will be funded by Sandals companies, using their own money.

Even without Casuarina, already that’s over 1,000 rooms!

This number could climb to over 1,500, as and when ABV is demolished and re-built. All acquired and/or built with subsidised taxpayer monies.

Only time will tell if it is either desirable or healthy for any Government to own more than one in five of the entire hotel room stock in a tourism dependent nation.

I cannot think of a similar precedent in any other Caribbean country and if our policymakers are suggesting ‘Government should consider owning more hotels’, can they point to this model working anywhere else? Continue reading

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Adrian and Margaret Loveridge shut down Peach & Quiet Hotel

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.

Further Reading

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

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Barbados Tourism Authority ignores TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards

‘Unlike any other hotel honours, TripAdvisor Travelers Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travellers around the world’.

Tourism MATTERS

by Adrian Loveridge - small hotel owner

Up until the time of submitting this column, well over 500 major news organisations and publications have reported on the 2012 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Award winners. Tens of millions of people around the world, among them many that will be making holiday plans will scrutinise the list and finally decide where they feel they can get the very best hotel value for money and level of service delivery.

More astute national, regional and individual city tourism organisations have been quick to link their destination with the awardees, taking full advantage of what amounts to free advertising and promotion.

While our own Government tourism agency has yet to take advantage of this almost unprecedented global exposure, Barbados has done relatively well in a number of categories.

3,943 properties across 30 countries and eight regions have received these coverted awards this year and as their Press Release reiterates, ‘unlike any other hotel honours, TripAdvisor Travelers Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travellers around the world’.

For those of you that have not yet read the list, this is how ‘we’ did.

  • Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Caribbean – Sandy Lane #1.
  • Top 25 Bed and Breakfasts and Inns in Caribbean – Bayfield House #5 and Sweetfield Manor – #24.
  • Top 25 Hotels for Service in Caribbean – Little Arches Boutique Hotel #23.
  • Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in Caribbean – Silver Point #13 The House #23.
  • Top 25 Relaxation/Spa Hotels In Caribbean –  Sugar Cane #2 – Waves #5 – Sandy Lane #15.
  • Top 25 Bargain Hotels in Caribbean – Southern Surf Beach Apartments #8 – Peach and Quiet #9.

Sadly, no Barbados property was listed in either the 25 Top overall Hotels in the Caribbean or all-inclusive categories, and this must concern our tourism planners considering the prevalence of all-inclusive rooms when equating it to our total accommodation stock.

We, in my humble opinion are very fortunate to have a lodging product for the majority of our potential visitors and this is graphically reflected in  the awards. There will always be a market for a luxury offering, recession or no recession.

At the same time many guests have grown over the years to prefer smaller intimate properties. Value-for-money continues to be a critical factor and it goes perhaps without saying, that overall service delivery is just as vital at all levels.

An interesting component was the average nightly rate of the near 4,000 properties who won is US$270 and 45 per cent have a nightly rate of US$200 or less.  This the reality of competing in tourism on a worldwide stage.

One thing for sure, TripAdvisor or any similar site that could replace it is not going to vanish or dissipate into the upper atmosphere. We, whether in the private or public sector ignore the largest travel community in the world at our peril.

By embracing and finding creative ways to more effectively use it we can generate greater occupancy levels and revenue.

Each month TripAdvisor advises individual hotels the actual number of views made to their page. In December 3,328 logged on to ours and that perhaps is partially why we are responding to an average hundred email requests daily.

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Tourist slams Peach and Quiet Hotel on TripAdvisor. Owner replies…

“Yes! My wife does get a bit snooty on the odd occasion. I will have a word with her.”

How Adrian Loveridge handled a bad TripAdvisor guest report…

Changing the BBQ, having a word with his co-manager

by Marcus

In a recent BFP article TripAdvisor’s Brian Payea coming to Barbados we told you how the tourism industry was thrust into an unknown and frightening world when the internet arrived and, much to their horror, hotels discovered that tourists could post unedited reviews and photos online.

This is such a big deal that many foolish hotels sought to curtail free speech rather than to engage disgruntled customers. Hotels didn’t want to explain, apologize and sometimes have to admit that a customer had a valid complaint.

Imagine that… some hotels don’t want to listen to customers and use what they say to make the business better. What a novel idea! How foreign a concept to those who think they know it all because they run a government-owned hotel with a bottomless bank account.

But running away from bad internet reviews means that only one side is heard. That is foolish these days when over 80% of tourists research their vacations on the internet before booking. (I can’t remember where I heard that but it sounded reasonable.)

Some customers can’t be pleased no matter what. Others are put off a hotel for one minor issue – but I think that most people consider the entire experience and product and give a fair opinion when asked.

Then again, I’m not in the hotel business. Peach and Quiet Hotel owner Adrian Loveridge is though, and how he handles the very rare bad review on TripAdvisor is instructive for anyone in the tourism or service industries. BFP readers know we like Adrian and Margaret, but even with that disclaimer we are blown away by Adrian’s candor and integrity in how he handled this complaint. What a pro, and what a decent person. Hope Margaret doesn’t bop him one! 🙂

First, for interest…

Overall Ratings: Peach & Quiet vs. Time Out at the Gap

According to TripAdvisor, Peach & Quiet has 123 visitor reviews, with 100 rated “Excellent”, 17 “Very Good”, 2 “Average”, 3 “Poor” and 1 “Terrible”.

That contrasts with “Time out at the Gap” with 118 visitor reviews, with 10 rated “Excellent”, 23 “Very Good”, 40 “Average”, 25 “Poor” and 20 “Terrible”.

Now the bad review of Peach and Quiet, and then Adrian’s response…

Peach & Quiet “Could do (much) better…!”

Date of review: May 16, 2011 – New Continue reading

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TripAdvisor’s Brian Payea coming to Barbados

To deliver Keynote talk at Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Conference

When it comes to travel information and reviews, TripAdvisor LLC is probably the single most powerful online presence. The company’s websites attract 50+ million unique visitors each month – and that’s unique visitors, not visits. One person visiting 20 times in a month counts only once.

So when Brian Payea, TripAdvisor’s head of industry relations, speaks – hotels and tourism people listen very very closely. Mr. Payea will be delivering the keynote speech at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference coming to Bridgetown June 1 to 3, 2011.

Like all businesses, tourism was thrust into an unknown and frightening world when the internet arrived and, much to their horror, hotels discovered that tourists could post unedited reviews and photos online. And post they did…

Suddenly the paid-for advertising and colourful brochures showing ten year old photos of a brand new hotel were countered with the truth. Disgruntled and ripped off customers at destinations around the world posted photos of cockroaches, stained bedding and filthy swimming pools. Tourists trapped in broken down buses with no toilets, no food and no water blogged and twittered in real time as their personal hell unfolded. The BBC and CNN often picked up on the feeds and broadcast the vacation disasters.

Things changed virtually overnight from the days when a glossy vacation pamphlet and a planted, paid-for travel story in the New York Times was all it took to attract visitors.

The hotel and tourism industry is still struggling to cope with free speech on the internet, and some fools in the industry even called for “tight regulation of hotel reviews” after TripAdvisor published as list of “dirtiest hotels”. They might as well try to stop the tides and the rotation of the earth because if TripAdvisor was shut down tomorrow another dozen or a hundred travel review websites would appear overnight.

What can the tourism industry do about internet reviews and criticism?

Mr. Payea has some ideas and he’ll be talking about the internet and other subjects at the upcoming conference.

Here’s what we think that Barbados tourism should do about the internet: Listen to what many people are saying.

Barbadians are not delivering the tourism product that we used to.

Barbados is not delivering the product that we promise in our current advertising. Look at the paid travel stories, commercials and glossy brochures. Now look at the reality. Look at what’s left of some of our beaches. Look at the trash everywhere. Talk to some of the sullen, uncaring and even hostile shop attendants downtown.

We don’t know what message Mr. Payea will bring to the conference, but we know that no amount of advertising, spin, internet engagement or re-branding can make up for a decade of neglect of our tourism and island infrastructure. No amount of paid-for travel videos can compete with the damage done by a filthy, old hotel and staff who would rather be doing something else and think that being polite to guests is “subservience”.

Barbados must concentrate on providing our best possible product and the best possible experience for every visitor to our home. That is, and should be, the business of every Barbadian.

Anyone who thinks that “re-branding”, new advertising or spin is some sort of “solution” to what’s happened to Barbados tourism is only fooling themselves.

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Lessons from GEMS Hotels & Resorts Limited: Government is always bad at business, corrupt Government is worse.

Hotels & Resorts Limited product is so bad, the Barbados Government is having difficulty exiting the business

by Nevermind Kurt (with Clive & Marcus)

Barbadians have no idea how much money they poured into the doomed-to-fail-from-the-start attempt to nationalize the hotel industry known as “GEMS”, Hotels & Resorts Limited. When you include the “free” air subsidies and “free” marketing support from the Barbados Tourism Authority it is surely a billion dollars poured down that hole and probably much, much more.

Not to forget that all the while the other hotels on the island were having to compete with a heavily subsidized nationally-owned chain. And Owen Arthur wondered why no investors wanted to build new facilities! To compete against government subsidized hotels? Cha! What… you think foreign investors are crazy?

Corruption, Foreign Bank Accounts, ZERO Accountability

Then there was the matter of the supply chain for GEMS Hotels. For many years everything for all the hotels ran through central suppliers. Yup, sourced out of Miami and New York probably through a few little “handling” companies that took 5% of everything and forwarded the profits to the owners’ foreign bank accounts.

The goods never went through Miami though: only the invoices and payments. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking, Corruption, Offshore Investments