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Two win top hotel awards for 2011

Two win top hotel awards for 2011


Arlene Connell and Flora Gunn have been named the Hoteliers of the Year for 2011.{{more}}

Connell, of Sea Shells Holiday Apartments, Sugar Apple Inn and Spring House (Bequia) and Gunn, of Beachcombers Hotel (St. Vincent), received their awards from the Ministry of Tourism and Industry at a ceremony held on Tuesday, November 22.

The Awards Ceremony was part of the Tourism Week activities for 2011, which was held under the theme: “Preserving and Promoting Our Culture through Tourism”.

Flora Gunn is described as “truly a passionate Hotelier” who is very active in the SVG Hotel and Tourism Association.

In 1991, she led her team of family members, turning a small seaside house into a six-bedroom guest house known as “Beachcombers”. Back then, breakfast was served, with a smile, on the guest’s patio. Today, Beachcombers houses 32 hotel rooms, a restaurant and bar, pool and health spa. The hotel’s catering ranges from the backpacker to the President. This is all surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden which Flora takes pride in maintaining.

Gunn runs Beachcombers with utmost passion.

She gets up at dawn, goes off to church, then is on the job by 7:00, every morning. She pays attention to detail and no stone goes unturned. She will be there in accounting, balancing the books; in the Housekeeping meeting; in the garden with her umbrella overhead; inspecting rooms; she will be there when the plumbing goes on “the blink” or when the Internet breaks down.

She finds solutions right away to the problems. It is definitely not an easy job; however, she is where she wants to be. She will also tell you that she could never have reached that far without the support of her family who are also very involved with the running of the hotel, and then, of course, her dedicated and loyal staff. She always gives thanks to the Lord Almighty.

During these challenging times faced by the industry, there were no layoffs at her hotel; she kept on all the members of staff. She continues to raise the bar regarding Service Excellence.

Gunn also believes in giving back to the community. Every year, she sponsors events, as well as offers donations, both monetary and in-kind. Among her highlights of 2011 was seeing her investment in a new wing of more sophisticated rooms being appreciated by the guests.

Arlene Connell and her husband Michael Connell constructed Sea Shells Holiday Apartments in Bequia in 2003 and later became involved with the development and management of Sugar Apple Inn and Spring House, also in Bequia. Arlene has a love for designing mosaics, which feature in some of these properties.

The management of Spring House is the most challenging, as it is a luxury villa that demands high standards, because of the multiple services offered. Arlene also has the full maintenance of all 3 properties as part of her portfolio, with her husband as consultant on construction and property development matters.

Over the years, they have developed a staff that is loyal, well-trained and pleasant to work with. This staff not only includes hospitality staff, but also maintenance and construction, most of whom have been working with Arlene and Michael off-and-on since their migration to Bequia.

Arlene, who is always actively involved in activities of the SVG Hotel and Tourism Association is always encouraging her hospitality staff to attend workshops, do online courses and take part in personal development programmes. The results have been very rewarding. She keeps her core staff employed year-round, even though business in Bequia is seasonal. She herself has sat on the Tourism Accommodation Standards committee during the formation of the Hospitality Standards. She also did presentations on tourism awareness to students in Bequia. Arlene has been one of the judges for the SVG Hotel and Tourism Association’s Vincy Flavours Competition from its inception.

SVGTA President Bianca Porter and members of the SVG Hotel and Tourism Association, extend congratulations to Connell and Gunn. They also congratulate Outstanding Taxi drivers for 2011, Crispin Charles and Kelvin Harry; Outstanding Immigration Officer, Colville Lewis and Outstanding Community Management Group, the Barrouallie Tourism and Heritage Association.