“I would like to thank everyone who have assisted the company, before we opened, during the time we were opened (and) over the years and that includes the government, our employees, the management, suppliers, financial institutions who supported us, and we would also like to thank sincerely all of our staff who have been loyal and have done an excellent job to bring Coyaba to where it is today.”
Those were the words expressed during a press conference last week Tuesday by Managing Director of the Coyaba Beach Resort, André Cherman on the occasion of the 80-room resort’s 30th Anniversary, which was commemorated on Tuesday (August 01).
“We have a very strong management team, an excellent staff, and a very strong family – all these are important for success”, said Cherman, who has been Chairman and Managing Director of the resort throughout its entire 30 years.
Addressing the local media at the resorts conference room last week Tuesday, Cherman noted that over the years, the resort has been making significant financial contributions to sports, culture and nation building, through its monthly outreach nutrition assistance programme to 7 primary schools on the island, activities held under the very active sports club.
The resort has also been the titled sponsor of the New Dimension Steel Orchestra since 2008.
“I am very happy with what we have achieved and the company’s economic contribution to the country and we expect that in the years ahead would be even better,” Cherman told reporters.
Additionally, he said, “We buy stuff (fruits and vegetables) from farmers, fisherfolk, (the) food and beverage industry, (and) we pay money to the government in terms of taxes”.
“So it’s a lot of contribution to the country and we feel that we have made a very good contribution and we expect that we will continue to do so going forward”, he added.
Coyaba, which is the Amerindian word for heaven, is nestled on approximately 5.5 acres of land, which holds the authentic history of Amerindians who lived there centuries ago.
Construction work started on the hotel in October 1986, and by August 1, 1987, Coyaba officially opened its doors with a total of 30 rooms.
Another 10 rooms were added in 1988 and in 1995 a further 30.
Another 10 rooms were added during reconstruction works undertaken in 2004, following the disastrous setback caused by the passage of Hurricane Ivan.
Approximately 16 months after reopening, Coyaba was again faced with another serious challenge with the onset of the worldwide financial and economic crisis in 2008.
According to Cherman, “Hurricane Ivan (coupled with the) 2008 economic recession had set us back (the hotel) considerably.”
However, he said: “We did not give up, we persevered and we started to look at all of our costs and went back over everything that we had before us and we came up with a new strategy and a template that would guide us from that period onwards”.
According to Cherman, he regards as the resort’s greatest accomplishment “building from scratch” to where it is today.
“We did not inherit any money, we never bought anything that was made already, and we built from scratch…but more importantly is the development of the people who started with us at a young age and have grown with us over the years,” he said.
The experienced hotelier pointed out that “there are employees at the hotel who have been there for the entire 30 years, some for 25, 20”, adding that nearly everybody currently employed at the hotel has been there for over 10 years.
“So that gives you a picture of not only the loyalty but how happy they are…and I think that is very important”, he said.
“We believe that what we have done is move from a 3-star property when we started to a 4-star” he added
He also alluded to the ongoing refurbishment of the hotel to the tune of“$4 Million.
“We have been blessed by God as a family and as a company and it demonstrates I think, to everybody, certainly our young people, that success does not come overnight, it takes time and you have to work hard and keep focused. Once you do that everything is possible,” Cherman said.
Swollen with pride, Cherman revealed that, “6 years ago” the company hit its “sweet spot,” which means that it now “has an excellent mix of revenue, expenses and profits.”
“We are in a situation where we can say although (it) is not perfect, we are well on the way (because) we have laid a fantastic foundation and we expect that we will do very well from now on,” he declared.
The hotel operator disclosed that a new strategic plan was recently prepared, which outlines a road map for the future of the company for the next 10 years.
The plan comprises “five” imperative measures, which he explained are expected to help the hotel achieve a greater effectiveness in its branding, financial strength and stability, as well as to have competent and professional staff…appropriate products and services offerings and an effective marketing programme, which are all viewed as “critical” areas in going forward.
Overall, he expressed the view that Coyaba “stand very high up in terms of market share in terms of tourists coming to Grenada”.
He said: “We are the #1 hotel for Virgin Holidays…and we are also number one for British Airways passengers coming to Grenada.
“We don’t always stand on the mountain top and scream and shout but it is clear to us that it has worked out well – we have a high repeat factor of over 40% return guests and they keep coming back year after year,” he added.
It was also announced that Cherman’s daughter, Danika Cherman, who returned to the island in September 2016 as the Deputy Managing Director of Coyaba, after spending years studying and working within Canada’s hospitality industry, will succeed him when the time comes.
The young Cherman has under her belt a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Organisational Studies, which she attained at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
She indicated that she has no intention to make any significant changes to the foundation already laid by her father.
“For the future, I don’t plan on making any big changes…it’s a very successful company and it makes no sense to make changes, just minor improvements, minor tweaks but nothing major. I know I have some big shoes to fill but, I know they are pointed in the right direction,” she said.
To mark the auspicious occasion, the management and staff of the resort congregated at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Grand Anse last week Friday and the company printed some celebratory supplements, which were distributed in the local newspapers, along with polo jerseys, which are being distributed to guests when they check into the resort.