Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 22nd 2014 Contents MAY 2014 • WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Despite media reports about the
declining levels of tourist arrivals
to the sister isle, one hotelier is
optimistic he will experience
an increase in room occupancy.
Bernard Sarme, the newly-appointed general
manager of the 170-room Magdalena Grand
Beach and Golf Resort, said he is not daunted
by the reported decline in the sector.
"We are doing 20 per cent better than last
year in room occupancy and food and bev-
In February 2012, Nicholas Hardwick, pres-
ident of the Hotel and Tourism Association
in Tobago, said there were double-digit declines
in the tourism sector in the sister isle.
In April 2014, Diane Hadad, chairman of
the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce, also raised concerns
about declining tourist arrivals as a result of
Virgin Atlantic pulling out of Tobago. She said
one of the factors turning tourists from Tobago
were the airport logistics. The airlift between
the two islands also contributed to the declining
numbers in domestic tourism to Tobago.
Sarme, appointed in mid-May, brings to
the hotel four decades of management and
hospitality experience. The French national
spent 26 years in St Maarten. Accustomed to
handling larger hotels, Sarme said the sug-
gestion to work in Tobago was put to him by
John Murphy, vice-president of efm Hospitality
Solutions, operator of the hotel.
Competition from big brand hotels is not
an issue for him, as he is confident once his
changes are implemented, the hotel would be
able to withstand competition.
"In the winter, it s a different market than
in the summer. In the winter, we have a lot
of people coming from Europe and the Scan-
danavian countries. In the summer, it s a local
clientele from Trinidad."
In June 2011, then Tourism Minister Stephen
Cadiz announced that US$25 million would
be pumped into upgrading the hotel. The hotel
was originally called the Hilton Tobago before
it was named the Vanguard Hotel and Spa
Resort. The infrastructure of the hotel had
deteriorated due to sea blast.
Sarme said for the rest of 2014, in order to
make the hotel more competitive, training
would be done so that guests would receive
"We are doing quite well and I am planning
to make sure we are going to deliver the best
service, which is a very important thing in my
book because we are here to make sure our
customers are satisfied," he said.
Asked what qualities he brings to the Mag-
dalena, Sarme said: "Worldwide experience,
five-star reputation and one heck of an organ-
Though it has only been two weeks since
he took over the reins as general manager of
the Magdalena, Sarme has already met with
Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary,
Orville London, members of the Tobago
Tourism Association and Minister of Tourism
On the issue of crime, Sarme said there
isn t much of it in Tobago.
"I am a newcomer here and all the things
I have heard so far is how safe Tobago is com-
pared to how some of the other islands are."
And as debate continues on the effectiveness
of the airlift between T&T, he said: "It doesn t
matter where you are, airlift is an important
subject. Without airlift, you don t have
Sarme spoke of the shift in his role from
project director and consultant of La Licorne
D Or, a new boutique hotel in Grand Case,
French St Martin, to general manager.
"It s a lot easier to be a general manager
than a project director. When you are a project
director, you have about 800 people working
for you and many different sub-contractors
and it can be very hard to deal with."
To be good in the hospitality industry, you
must know the management aspects of the
business. Sarme said his educational back-
ground is in management and hospitality.
Sarme has been an active member of several
professional industry associations. He was
awarded Hotelier of the Year Award in 1987.
According to the Web site 4hoteliers.com,
Sarme was general manager of the Orient-
Express La Samanna in St Martin.
Ministry of Tourism
Tourism Minister Gerald Hadeed endorsed
the appointment of Sarme. He said manage-
ment is an important aspect in the delivery
of service to visitors and locals who visit Tobago
He said Sarme comes with the greatest
amount of experience in the field of delivery
of service, project development and manage-
"We are very happy that he has joined the
team for the development of the hotel and,
by extension, the Tobago tourism sector.
Asked whether Sarme has the expertise to
shape the hotel into a viable entity, Hadeed
said: "He has the capabilities to do that, hence
the reason why he has been selected for the
Hadeed said the ministry would support
any effort by Sarme to develop the hotel.
New Magdalena Resort GM plans to...
Raise the bar on service
Bernard Sarme, general manager of
Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort
Links Archive May 21st 2014 May 23rd 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page