Business View Magazine interviews Suresh Monickoraja, General Manager of the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa, as part of Top Resorts in Barbados.
The Accra Beach Hotel and Spa is ideally located on three-and-a-half lush, tropical acres, right on one of the most spectacular beaches in southern Barbados – a long, sun-kissed stretch of soft white sand that is home to the gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea. “Our location is a unique selling point,” says General Manager Suresh Monickoraja. “We have a fabulous location. Our beach is one of the best in Barbados – ideal for beachgoers.” In addition, the property is very strategically located – it’s 15 minutes from the Grantley Adams International Airport, and just 10 minutes from Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados, with its many shops, restaurants, and historical sites.
Monickoraja explains that the hotel’s original owners came from Ghana, and in the 1920s, named their original, three-bedroom guesthouse after that African nation’s capital city. In the late 1960s, they expanded the property to 50 rooms and 34 apartments. The current owners, the Charles family from Trinidad, bought the hotel in 1970 and reconstructed it to offer 128 rooms. “In 2007, the hotel completed another wing consisting of 18 new suites and a renovated restaurant,” says Monickoraja. “They decided to expand it further with 78 more rooms and a spa.”
Today, the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa consists of 158 rooms and 64 suites; the Chakra Spa, which features six treatment rooms, a sauna, and a steam room; four restaurants and three bars – one with a swim-up option; two outdoor pools; four conference rooms; a business center; a beauty salon; a fitness center; and a kids’ club. All accommodations include free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, mini fridges, cable TV, air conditioning, a direct dial phone, an in-room safe, and quality bathroom amenities. The majority of its rooms and suites include a spacious, private balcony, while luxury suites feature Jacuzzis and living areas with the added option of a private bar.
Refurbishing at the Accra is an ongoing process. “Since I came two-and-a-half years ago, we have refurbished the entire lobby, we renovated the meeting and conference rooms, and we beautified the landscape,” says Monickoraja. “Currently, we are concentrating on the original wing. We will be refurbishing it from May to November, so then, all our rooms will be on par. We also will be working on one of our all-day-dining restaurants, which has been untouched for a long time.”
Speaking of dining, the Accra is not an all-inclusive hotel, although that option is available for those who prefer it. And while there are many wonderful eateries nearby, the hotel also offers its own array of fine dining choices: the Accra Deck Restaurant, with outdoor seating that overlooks the ocean, features local foods as well as contemporary European cuisine; the Pacifika Kitchen Restaurant features Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Indonesian fare; the CocoPatch Restaurant is a casual spot for breakfast or lunch; and the Fig Tree Restaurant serves specialty dinners on Tuesdays and Thursdays with live music and entertainment.
Monickoraja says that most of the hotel’s guests come from the U.K, followed by the U.S. and Canada. It is open year round, and has an average occupancy rate of 79 percent, with almost 60 percent of its guests, repeat visitors. It employs an average of 270 employees, a number that increases during the high season. Guests are recruited via tour operators, travel agents, and an extensive use of print and social media.
Monickoraja adds that the Accra is just as popular with the locals as it is with its international clientele. “It’s the heart of the local community,” he states. “Karaoke nights are very popular and we attract a lot of locals, and our Sunday lunch is predominantly local. We enhanced the theme nights and introduced a new one called ‘Curry and Kabob.’ It’s very popular with local guests.”
Staying current with sustainable practices is also important to the hotel’s operation and character. It buys produce from small, local farmers and fishermen; there is a solar panel for hot water, and a property-wide recycling initiative. The hotel’s use of paper has been reduced, and it uses bio-degradable products and green chemicals whenever possible.
Finally, Monickoraja stresses that the Accra’s personal service mirrors the warm, gracious, and hospitable manner of the Barbadian people. “Some of the staff has been here for many, many years,” he says. “There is a lot of personalized engagement and personal commitment to customers. And Barbados is considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean. It gives a sense of comfort for travelers to come and experience the beauty, and the sunshine, and the sea, and the culture of this beautiful Caribbean island.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: The Accra Beach Hotel and Spa
WHAT: A 158 room, 64 suite resort
WHERE: Rockley Beach, Barbados