Leading Grenadian and Caribbean hotelier, Sir Royston Hopkin says that a penchant for excellence is the key factor responsible for the success of his Spice Island Beach Resort on the Grand Anse beachfront while others around him feel the pressure of the recession.
Sir Royston also said that one of his strategies was to engage a strong and vibrant Public Relations team to help promote the hotel.
Presently, Spice has secured the services of PR outfits in both the US and British markets. “All the releases you’ll get, they crank (out) every release, everything that is done they crank it,” Sir Royston told reporters who were invited on a tour of the upgraded facilities at Spice.
He stated that because of the beefed up Public Relations effort, he gets a number of famous people like British decorated soldier, Johnson Beharry to stay at his hotel every year.
Beharry is a Grenadian National, living in the United Kingdom, who was given a Victoria Cross by the Queen for his heroics in Afghanistan.
“We had the other day Beharry in Grenada with Hello Magazine, the most under utilized man in the world. The man is the highest profile Grenadian in the United Kingdom, anything that is happening, you see him stand up next to the queen,” Hopkin emphasised.
“…He comes down here every year, no body has worried him, he’s my friend because we had our Investiture (with the Queen) on the same day and I met him for the first time and we’ve been friends so he came down with Hello Magazine.”
The Spice Resort boss is known to be unhappy with the failure of local tourism officials to utilize Beharry especially on promotional visits to Britain.
“He (Beharry) (holds) an Honorary Doctorate. He started as a private, now he is a Sergeant, very well respected but we don’t do enough with our own…”, he said.
According to Hopkin, the Hello Magazine came down with the decorated soldier and before they left Grenada, a “big front page” article with Beharry and his stay at Spice was feature on the magazine.
According Hopkin, that kind of publicity keeps his hotel on top and this is something that he could not afford to pay for in terms of publicity and promotion.
Sir Royston who often recalls that he was a self-made individual after leaving school in Form Four proudly states that he was able to develop himself over the years for the betterment of his hotel.
He has also used his frequent trips around the world to stay and eat at some of the best hotels to get new idea for Spice.
“I eat in the best restaurants, I stay in the nicest of hotels, I get my ideas and that’s the only way because remember I am a product of Form Four C. I left school in Four C so I developed myself, so in order to develop yourself, you have to expose yourself to be able to understand what people want and as a result … over the years I’ve developed a good lifestyle because I’ve worked hard and I’ve done well,” he said.
“When I was redoing the hotel, I wanted lovely beds because anybody that is staying here at their level are buying the best beds in the world but you spend a third of your life on a bed so I bought the best commercial beds that money can buy. All my guests say your beds are divine, so that’s the kind of thing and that’s how I’ve developed,” he added.
Another important factor for the success of Spice, according to Sir Royston was his commitment to: “Training, Training, Training.”
He indicated that local motivational trainer, Eddy Frederick, a close friend of the hotelier, would be doing a stint shortly at Spice to motivate the staff since “motivation” is always needed to help improve the performance of employees.
“In here, all my staff knows all the guests names. Even though I have 100 people in the hotel all my staff greet you by your name and remember your name from the time you came through – that’s training, training, training,” he proudly stated.
“… That motivational thing is what’s most important, knowing how to deal with your people”, he added.
Sir Royston was asked to comment on those local critics who envy his many awards and recognitions and often insinuate that he was paying out handsome fees in exchange for worldwide recognition.
He dismissed the notion and said the hotel often has a 99-100 percent score sheet with Trip Advisor and others who watchdog and monitor the industry.
“…People could say what they want, there comes a time when you can’t think about what people say,” he remarked.
Sir Royston also had a word of warning to those who frequently complain about the top dollars paid by guests to stay at Spice.
“People say Hopkin charging too much money, they don’t know Hopkin delivers the most money from any hotel to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Accountant-General in the Ministry of Finance)”, he said.
“…I (am) not business with that (criticism). My thing is to educate people at the same time because I don’t have to tell you that I turn over more than the Nutmeg (association) sell for the whole of last year. That’s my business – but nutmeg sell $16 (million) and I turn over 19 (million dollars) so I don’t have nobody to boast that to,” he added.
Spice has over 200 persons, mostly locals on its monthly payroll.