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General Manager of African Princess Reveals Upcoming Project

My Magazine 2024/06
3 min
PEOPLE
The African Princess Beach Hotel is the dream project of Freddy Blell(late) and Charbel Hobeika, envisioned as a haven of unparalleled service and excellence in Africa. Situated in Kotu, this five-star hotel aims to become the pinnacle of hospitality, striving to be the best not just locally, but across the continent. The founders’ vision was to create a place where guests could experience luxury and top-notch service, ensuring their stay was nothing short of perfect.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Princess was primarily a leisure hotel, a sanctuary for travellers seeking relaxation and enjoyment. However, the global tourism landscape underwent a significant transformation post-pandemic. Recognizing the need to adapt, the African Princess shifted its focus from being solely a leisure destination to becoming a premier corporate hotel. This transition was facilitated by their existing facilities, such as a fully-equipped business centre, which had not been utilized to its full potential pre-COVID. Despite the challenges and slow recovery post-pandemic, the African Princess has embraced this new direction with determination and resilience.

The hotel's ambition is clear: to climb to the top spot on TripAdvisor by 2025 and earn the Traveller’s Choice Award for The Gambia. Abraham, the GM at the African Princess, believes that true success doesn't come from outshining competitors but from consistent self-improvement. According to him, every hotel has its unique charm and strengths. Therefore, the focus should be on maintaining high standards and continuously enhancing guest experiences.

Core values at the African Princess are simple yet profound. They believe in providing exceptional service without infringing on others' success. Flexibility is key; they adapt their standards to meet guests' evolving needs, always going the extra mile to ensure satisfaction. This philosophy extends to their team as well. With 105 members, the African Princess operates like one big family. There are no traditional managers, only team leaders who guide from behind, empowering the other team members. This family-oriented approach, introduced by the Blell and Hobeika families, has fostered a nurturing and supportive work environment. Employee turnover is remarkably low, as mistakes are seen as learning opportunities rather than failures.

Training programs are a staple during the Green Season, ensuring staff are well-prepared for the peak season. Unlike many in the industry, the African Princess does not resort to layoffs during quieter months. Instead, they implement a rotation system where some employees work half the month, ensuring every family has food. This period also focuses on attracting corporate clients, while the peak season caters primarily to leisure guests.

In its commitment to sustainability and supporting local businesses, the African Princess grows its vegetables and sources everything locally as much as possible. This ensures fresh, high-quality produce and strengthens the local economy.

Mr. Abraham, with 30 years of global hospitality experience, has found a second family in the African Princess team. He is deeply invested in the well-being of his colleagues and guests, always available for a chat and frequently mingling with the staff to address any concerns. His dedication is evident in the hotel’s warm, familial atmosphere.

The African Princess boasts 141 rooms and the largest conference facility in the region, a new hall accommodating approximately 320 people. With state-of-the-art conferencing technology, including video and tabletop conferencing, they offer tailored dining experiences for conference guests, ensuring that every detail aligns with their preferences.

Going forward, the African Princess is keen to attract a diverse range of guests, including more residents. New chefs and updated menus in the restaurant promise exciting culinary experiences. Abraham is optimistic about the upcoming season, anticipating a surge in guests from various new countries, thanks to partnerships with numerous travel agents.

Ultimately, the goal of the African Princess is to leave guests with beautiful memories. With repeat visitors and positive feedback from high-profile events like the OIC summit, they are well on their way to achieving their vision. As Mr. Abraham aptly puts it, the African Princess is not just a hotel; it’s a family, a community, and a beacon of hospitality in The Gambia.

Looking for a tranquil oceanfront luxury hotel for a holiday, a venue for a business meeting or a special occasion? Contact African Princess Beach Hotel!

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