At Coyaba People Come First

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Cross-section of the Coyaba Staff. (Photo by Aerial Vision Intl.)

In three decades in business, the Grenada family-owned Coyaba Beach Resort has expanded from an initial 30-room hotel to 40 and now 80 rooms. But, Managing Director Andre Cherman says Coyaba is contemplating further expansion.

“For Coyaba, I see future development with additional rooms and additions to our facilities. We want to do a specialty restaurant, an additional pool and a new conference room,’’ Mr Cherman told Barnacle in an exclusive interview.

“Hopefully in 3 years’ time, we would actually do the investment, once the environment is conducive,’’ he added. “If the environment and the conditions are right, we probably will add another 30 rooms.’’

Coyaba, which began operations in 1987 and employs 130 workers at the hotel, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The resort has been able to achieve growth and success, including 40% in repeat business, despite challenges such as damage suffered with the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

André Cherman, Managing Director

Figures show that 60% of Coyaba’s guests comes from the United Kingdom; 20% from the Caribbean; and 13% from the United States.

Coyaba also has attempted to involve Grenadians in utilizing the resort with offers such as Day Passes and Weekend Passes, lunch and dinner packages, and with special events for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

The Cherman family, through Coyaba Beach Resort, has also been involved in community outreach by supporting charities and assisting schools, and is the longtime sponsor of top local steelband New Dimension.

“People appreciate the fact that we’re involved in the community. For us at Coyaba, it’s not just about tourists but it’s also about community involvement,’’ emphasized Mr Cherman, who will soon be handing over management of the resort to his daughter Danika Cherman. She is the Deputy Managing Director of Coyaba Beach Resort.

Danika Cherman, a university graduate who has worked as an Operations’ Manager with the Marriott hotel chain, is looking forward to the opportunity at taking over the leadership at Coyaba.

“I think I have a lot of vim, a lot of vigour and a lot of energy and I know I’ll be able to help modernize Coyaba without changing it too much,’’ she said.

Any changes and improvements at Coyaba will make it “just a little bit more modern, incorporating some more technology,’’ Ms Cherman said. “I don’t think I would need to be making any big changes.’’

Danika and Andre Cherman stressed that the strength of Coyaba is its employees.

“We put people first, we put our employees first, we put our guests first. People come first,’’ Danika Cherman said. “As long as you keep your employees happy, I think they’ll be able to put forward the level of service that you want. Once the level of service is there, the guests are happy and they’ll come back.’’

Andre Cherman agrees that the “personal touch’’, and the teamwork of the “Coyaba family’’, are things that have worked well for the resort.

“We try, every day, to give excellent service and I think the difference really is the family; not only our family, but the Coyaba family because everybody here works together like a team,’’ he said. “I think people like the fact that from the time they come back, they’re welcomed just as another member of the family.’’

Coyaba employees speak glowingly about the resort and how the job has helped them improve their living standards. Some, like Leroy Donald, has been with Coyaba since opening day 30 years ago and points to the management style of Andre Cherman as one of the hotel’s assets.

“Mr. Cherman is a person that is very concerned about people; the development and welfare of people,’’ said Donald, a landscaper. “A person that is very compassionate and understanding and is not difficult to work with.’’

Stanley James, who has made his way through from a construction worker on the hotel site, and then found employment in various departments of Coyaba, is now be the resort’s Brand Ambassador.

“The family of Coyaba made me learn a lot,’’ he said. “When I started out in construction and I saw the owners and the way they treated people, I decided to stay.’’

Paul Lewis, Manager of Operations, said the “leadership style’’ of Andre Cherman “has really inspired and motivated me as a person and I think it resonates through the hotel. It’s a family-owned hotel and by extension, every employee becomes a part that family. I am very much grateful for the support and encouragement received over the years’’.

Mr Cherman, according to Mr Lewis, “has promoted and modeled some essential principles to life and service which I believe have inspired the Coyaba family (employees) to achieve greatness’’.

See Coyaba’s full supplement in the September issue of the Barnacle.

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