Interview: Gemma Lewis, Marketing Manager South Bech Resort, Barbados
Barbados is something of an institution with wealthy British travellers who enjoy the trade winds and turquoise waters of the Caribbean. A strong hold for celebrity jet setters and a haven for those who like the finer things in life, Barbados has enjoyed unprecedented success over the last few years, with gongs from the World Travel Awards and other industry leading official’s. To sum it up, life is good, life is sweet. Caribbean Travel News spoke to the Marketing Manager of South Beach Resort, Gemma Lewis, to garner what’s happening on the island and why Barbados is such a success. Gemma, born in Wales yet now a true feature on the Caribbean island, explains that; “I can’t understand why anyone would want to life away from Barbados, I came here to study for my masters and I have not looked back since, I really don’t understand why anybody would want to life in a big smog filled city. Life here is great!” With such an enthusiasm for life it is easy to see how Gemma has succeeded as she has, yet it’s not only her enthusiasm but also keen eye for attention and a competitive edge that have rewarded the young lady so kindly. CTN:Lets us start with a rudimentary question, how is business at the resort?
GL:To be honest, it’s better then we ever expected it to be so early on. We only set up back in 2002 and this is just our third year of operations. We actually opened in April 2002, so to be showing the occupancy rates that we are is hugely rewarding, it’s largely down to great management and some super marketing! (With this Gemma expresses one of here trade mark wide toothed smiles and a certain cheeky look). We are running at 95%, and demand is outstripping supply. We are already reporting repeat visitors!
CTN:What is it that sets South Beach Resort apart from the rest of the hotels on Barbados?
GL:Well, we are situated on the South Coast and all of our 40-rooms are beach facing. Owing to this we opted for a Miami South Beach feel and design. The resort is fresh and funky and quite unlike anything else on Barbados.
CTN:How important is the wireless market to you? Do you see this as a trump card in your pack?
GL:Of course, the wireless option in our resort is a market leader. Our Wireless internet access is now fully up and running and guests who bring their laptops can surf the internet totally wirelessly in any part of the building! Imagine checking your emails while sipping a cocktail on your balcony and watching the world, admiring the beautiful Caribbean ocean. I guess it doesn’t get much better then that!
CTN:Have you always been wireless?
GL:No, when we first opened we were dial-up only. We quickly realised the importance of a high speed wireless connection and opted for Wi-Fi. We partnered with three technology companies, Brydens, Sunbeach (ISP - connectivity), and WAMCO. This was a first for Barbados, to have three companies merge to supply wireless internet connectivity!
CTN:What happens if you have a laptop but no wireless card?
GL:We are happy to loan cards to enable guests to connect to the internet.
CTN:What about costing?
GL:We realised that there are two types of traveller, the corporate and the leisure. Owing to this we decided to split our costing. For the corporate traveller there is the option to pay US$25 per day, this enables 24 hour access. For the more occasional leisure user there is an option to buy scratch cards in a range of 10, 30 or 60 minutes. A 60 minute card costs US$30. The cards are charged by the second and roll-over. This proves to be great value.
CTN:What market does most of your business come from? What is your strongest selling point?
GL:Our corporate business equates to roughly 25%, and is a very strong selling point. Our strongest selling point is our location and level of accommodation. We have very high standards and are on par with some of the West Coast properties.
CTN:How long have you been with south Beach?
GL:I started out in 2001, I year priory to opening. I had been in Barbados six years priory to that, as I mentioned earlier on to study my Masters. Aside from that my father runs a very successful business on the island called TT-Electronics.
CTN:Finally do you think that the next few years will be good for business on the island?
GL:I think Barbados has recovered very well since 9/11. We are predominantly a UK market serving island but we are aiming to increase traffic from the US via additional airlift and increased marketing drive. So, yes I believe that the next few years will be fantastic for the island, and South Beach Resort!