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Team Coco Ocean Strives for Excellence

My Magazine 2023/08
26 min
Coco Ocean Resort & Spa is one of the most magnificent hotels in The Gambia, with a long tradition and curated attention to detail, which form a perfection of the hospitality as envisioned by Mr Farid Bensouda and Mr Walter Loehn. My Gambia had a chance to chat with two essential pieces of the team puzzle, which is dedicated to bringing their guests service on the highest level; Terry Langenhoven, the current General Manager and Abdul Aziz Gning, Hotel Operations Manager. They shared with us their journey leading them to Coco Ocean and the reasons why this boutique resort is one of a kind.

Terry Langenhoven, the current General Manager of Coco Ocean Resort & Spa, hails from Cape Town, South Africa. He started working in the hospitality industry when he was just 15 years old. He was driven by a relentless spirit to explore the world and pursue his passion for the hospitality industry.

At 19, Terry embarked on an exciting journey to England, where he underwent a management apprenticeship. For two years, he honed his skills and gained invaluable experience in the hospitality industry, setting the stage for an illustrious career.

Terry's thirst for new experiences and horizons continued to grow, and his next stop was the renowned Renee & Sotto chain of hotels, where he apprenticed for over 18 years. From Switzerland to Germany, America to France, Terry learned the diverse cultures and the art of hospitality in various corners of the world.

In 2013, Terry's next quest brought him to the prestigious Coco Ocean Resort & Spa, where he made a significant impact with his exceptional skills, knowledge and experience. According to Terry, all your talent and the ideas you learn in Europe fail when you come to Africa because it's an entirely different ball game here. You have to figure out what will work in The Gambia and what will work for Coco Ocean. He says it was Abdul Aziz, the Interior & Exterior Manager then, who taught him the ropes and showed him Mr Bensouda's and Mr Walter's vision. Aziz groomed him and introduced him to Coco Ocean, the hotel, and the team. Terry says Aziz was his key to understanding Coco Ocean, which helped him immensely to deliver a good service.

However, a fantastic opportunity arose, and Terry was off, this time following his heart to the Palace of the Lost City in South Africa, his hometown. He was asked to manage the Food and Beverage department of The Crystal Court, which was a huge honour for him. After a year, Terry was on his way to Congo, where he played an instrumental role in opening a convention centre.

Driven by an insatiable thirst for more, Terry next saw an opportunity to help open a magnificent hotel in Ghana. Once he was back in South Africa, he started his own business, but destiny had other plans for Terry. A call from Mr Farid and Mr Walter, the owners of Coco Ocean Resort & Spa, and Terry was on his way to The Gambia. Terry says his love for Coco Ocean and The Gambia made him want to come back here. He feels it is his moral obligation to be a part of this magnificent resort.

With Terry's charisma, transformational leadership, unwavering dedication and hard work, Coco Ocean will once again be a haven that encapsulates the true essence of impeccable service. His talent and commitment speak volumes, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those he has touched.

According to him, Coco Ocean will always be the flagship hotel of The Gambia and the reason why people will come to The Smiling Coast. He wants Coco Ocean to be the name that pops into your mind when you think of a place to celebrate your special event.

"We will always deliver beyond your expectation," promises Terry Langenhoven.

Abdul Aziz's journey from a humble tailor to the Hotel Operations Manager at Coco Ocean Resort & Spa is truly inspiring.

In 2000, when Coconut Residence (also owned by Mr Farid Bensouda) opened its doors, Aziz seized the opportunity to explore a new path. He joined the hotel, and with time, he immersed himself in the world of hospitality, learning the intricacies of the hotel industry. His dedication and hard work was much appreciated.

When Coco Ocean Resort & Spa, a magnificent beachfront resort, opened in December 2008, Abdul Aziz was among the few chosen to be a part of the new venture. With his expertise and determination, he quickly ascended through the ranks to become the Interior & Exterior Manager. This role allowed him to showcase his creativity and design skills, transforming every corner of the resort into a visual delight.

Today, as the Hotel Operations Manager at Coco Ocean, Abdul Aziz's responsibilities include all the decorative aspects of the resort, ensuring that guests experience the epitome of luxury and comfort. From the beautiful rooms to the extraordinary lobby, the serene spa, the restaurants, the salon and the bathrooms, Aziz ensures that the upholstery and decor are always flawless and in line with Mr Farid Bensouda's and Mr Walter Loehn's vision of Coco Ocean.

Aziz attributes his success to the guidance and mentorship of Mr Farid Bensouda and Mr Walter Loehn, owners of Coco Ocean and icons in the hotel industry, who taught him to think outside the box. He says they are his inspiration, and he credits his success to them.

For Abdul Aziz, Coco Ocean is not merely a job; it is his passion. His love for Coco Ocean and his unwavering commitment to the owners have kept him dedicated to the company for over thirty years. His story is a reminder that with determination, hard work, and the right mentors, one can achieve remarkable heights, regardless of their humble beginnings.

With Terry and Abdul Aziz at its helm, Coco Ocean once again radiates incomparable magnificence. We welcome you to feel it during your next visit to Coco Ocean Resort & Spa. 



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