Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 22nd 2013 Contents From Page 6
Thom is forecasting a bumper final quarter
of the year for local hotels while energy com-
panies perform shutdown work. Both bpTT
and Atlantic have shutdowns planned.
"Once the upstream plants go down, the
downstream plants will take the opportunity
to do work they have to do. I think to supply
the industrial estate in September and October,
people will have to be staying as far away as
He said, "In Trinidad, we do not have
enough skilled labour to handle it. It creates
a situation where everyone has to get labour
at the same time. This means a high demand
The business year in Cara Suites is heavily
influenced by the activity on the Point Lisas
"I ve been here eight years and our seasons
for guests are really determined by what s
happening on the estate," said Thom. "The
majority of our clients come from the energy
sector. Last year, for the first time, we had
turnarounds happening in January, February
and March. The plants were shutting down
to do major works. That requires skilled labour
so they have to bring in a lot of people. That
usually happens between late August and
Hotel staffing levels are increased to service
the meeting rooms in the last quarter of the
"Unfortunately, we have not found the syn-
ergy where we have a high demand for meeting
rooms and a high occupancy for rooms as yet.
We need to seek new markets for accommo-
dation at that time of the year. We are now
going to focus on the local market and leisure.
That s how we are going to find the additional
revenue we require."
Cara Suites is a member of the Energy
"We try to align ourselves and network with
companies who can supply business to us."
He said being a member of the chamber
"gives us an opportunity to plan because you
know what is happening down the road and
you know what clients to target. That s a ben-
He said the chamber also hosts a lot of
events in Cara Suites. The hotel is also affiliated
to the American Chamber of Commerce
(AmCham). "We recently rejoined the Couva
Chamber and we re part of the (Trinidad
Hotels, Restaurants and) Tourism Associa-
Staffing and marketing
Human resources manager Alaina Francois
explained: "Every year we have interns spend-
ing time in our property, training in each and
every department. They are like new employ-
ees. We go through the entire process from
orientation to the actual training process. They
are evaluated and the evaluations are sent to
The hotel retains some of the more com-
"Ten of our current staff came through the
MUST programme or graduated from hotel
school via the internship programme."
Thom said: "Cara Suites has 100 per cent
local staff. That s how Cara tries to operate.
They try to ensure management is local in
whatever territory they operate."
Other members of the management team
include; Daniel Partap, operations manager;
Meredith Chu Cheong, rooms revenue man-
ager; Fashad Mohammed, executive chef; Roger
Sudial, accountant; and Neil Jeffers, safety
and security co-ordinator.
Cara Suites is part of the Cara Hotel Group.
The company also owns and operates Cara
Suites and Cara Lodge in Georgetown, Guyana.
Cara Suites is owned by Kent Investments
(Trinidad) Ltd, which is 100 per cent owned
by Paul Stephenson and Shaun McGrath, Irish
hoteliers. The hotel formerly operated as Farrell
House Hotel. It was acquired by Cara Hotels,
refurbished and rebranded as Cara Suites and
reopened in June 2002.
By 2008 Cara Suites started to build a new
executive wing and to expand its conference
and banqueting facilities. The new facilities
opened in June 2009.
Thom is president of the Trinidad Hotels,
Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA)
for 2012-2014. According to their Web site,
the mission of the THRTA is "to provide mem-
bers with services and benefits in the areas
of product marketing, education, training and
information dissemination. To service the
interest of our members by influencing gov-
ernment policies and addressing environmental
issues as they relate to our industry."
Thom said: "In the not too distant future,
you will see a push for (membership in the)
TTTIC to be mandatory. Right now it s vol-
untary. We are lobbying for it to become
mandatory. We are looking for more stringent
regulations in the industry."
Cara Suites is increasing its presence on
social media as part of its marketing strategy.
Online bookings account for just over 20 per
cent of business. "We are connected to the
global distribution system. Any travel agency
can log in and see our property."
Hassel said the hotel has a contract with
Expedia, bookings.com and Regatta. The hotel
bid and won a group booking online earlier
this year. A group of 35 students booked 20
"They were pleasantly surprised and pleased
with the standard when they got here," Hassel
said: "We are also looking at Facebook and
TripAdvisor and I have joined Linked-In as it
puts you in touch with a lot of people."
Their advertising budget is under two per
cent of revenue. "We advertise with Ins &
Outs, the Energy Chamber, AmCham and we
are now looking to be a bit more aggressive
in the print and digital media. I check the
papers online every night before I go to bed."
AUGUST 2013 • WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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