Ghana’s economic renaissance has resulted in the country becoming a popular tourist destination. Here, Roman Krabel, General Manager, Accra City Hotel, gives a fascinating insight into his award winning hotel.
A successful hospitality venture is borne out of a desire to travel, explore and educate, and for those with a keen interest in nature and history, Ghana has plenty to offer. According to the International Organisation for Migration, the country has more than 40 castles and forts, 22 nature and wildlife sanctuaries and 12 beach resorts. The Kakum National Park, Labadi Beach, Elmina Castle, Volta Lake and the Akosombo Dam are just a few of the sites attracting foreign visitors to the country.
It is of little surprise that PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Hospitality Outlook Report 2017 – 2027 cites Ghana as a major emerging market – a prime example of the ‘Africa Rising’ phenomenon, which has witnessed new birth economically, culturally and socially.
Hotels, both in the form of multinational chains and smaller independents, have responded to the upsurge in Ghana’s travel and tourism industry. In particular, Accra City Hotel, an award winning, four-star hotel and restaurant in the heart of the capital’s business and entertainment hub, has established itself as a popular accommodation destination. Roman Krabel, General Manager, gives us a rundown on his thriving 196 bedroomed facility, how it meets the needs of both leisure and business travellers, his views on its success, challenging issues and future goals.
Firstly, could you give us an overview of the Accra City Hotel and, from your perspective, what sets it apart from its competitors?
Rather than trying to appeal to a selective market, I believe our wide range of facilities makes us a popular choice for both the business and leisure traveller. We offer a complimentary shuttle service to and from the nearby Kotoka International Airport, and our city centre location is convenient for all our guests.
In terms of amenities, our spacious rooms are designed with comfort in mind. From stylish contemporary furnishings and bedding, luxurious ensuite baths/ showers, through to Wifi, TVs, ironing facilities, mini-bars, tea and coffee, we ensure all needs are adequately catered for. Additionally, guests have access to our gym and fitness centre, garden pool and tennis courts. Air conditioned meeting and conference rooms are available to our business guests with the use of high tech audio and video equipment, and support staff for printing, copying, secretarial and translating requirements.
Dining is a further specialism. Our Fihankra Restaurant, complete with live jazz band on Sundays, is open throughout the day serving local and continental dishes, fine wines and cocktails. There’s also the ‘Pool Terrasse’ where guests can enjoy pizza, snacks and refreshments by the garden pool and the ‘Lounge Bar’ for relaxing with drinks or a late breakfast.
In setting ourselves apart from our competitors, I would say that being a privately owned and run hotel, decision making is faster, and therefore more effective and efficient as we’re not dealing with the bureaucracy associated with the multi-nationals. This gives us a fantastic opportunity to impact business, and I think as General Manager, this flexibility to run and control things with ease, is a definite advantage.
Do you foresee any future challenges for the hospitality sector, and if so, how do you anticipate resolving them?
As with any capital city, Accra is constantly evolving and this is something we must be prepared to take on board and adapt to. Nowadays, guests are faced with an abundance of choice, so keeping up with trends is vital, whether that is via leisure facilities, styles of décor or range of cuisine provided. Menus must reflect customer demand whilst remaining appealing, creative and imaginative; something our highly trained chefs and catering team always deliver.
It’s also important to recognise that values in life and philosophy will also be areas of ongoing change – and indeed life has changed so much even during my career. Management styles do need to accommodate this, but excellent customer service must always be our top priority.
With regard to philosophy, have you instilled any values and ethics into your staff?
Accra City Hotel’s brand values are integrity, achievement, teamwork, excellence and innovation.
Our mission is to create a luxurious environment which encompasses the best in customer service and ambience. This is achieved through effective teamwork, striving for excellence, fairness, consistency and respect together with innovative and forward thinking which benefits both the individual and company. However, core to this is having the correct attitude. Leading by example, it is my responsibility to inspire, engage and challenge my team to exceed expectations, and I’m immensely proud of all our achievements thus far.
Which elements of Accra City Hotel’s success are you most proud of?
There are so many reasons to be proud of our success, but our collective total of more than 30 prestigious awards and accolades gained over the three years, 2016 to 2018 is something which fills me with immense pride. These awards praise the expertise and innovative nature of our entire team and recognise unrivalled hospitality and high calibre service. We’re also the first hotel in West Africa to acquire certifications in national standards in both safety management and environmental management systems.
Additionally, the honour of being awarded the title of ‘Best Luxury Contemporary Hotel in Ghana, by the World Luxury Hotel Awards 2018 is a phenomenal achievement, which I hope looking to the future will encourage us and give us increased confidence.
What are your long term hopes and plans for the hotel going forward?
As mentioned earlier, the industry will always evolve to give customers an increasing array of choice. We must not become complacent, we must learn from our successes, continuing to innovate and appeal to the wider markets. Nothing is impossible – I remember one occasion during my career when I was confronted with the task of catering for 6500 people. At first thought this appeared impossible, yet after discussing it thoroughly with colleagues and then working together efficiently as a team, we were able to stage an incredibly successful event. This needs to be the norm. The ability to remain successful in a competitive industry is two-fold, responding to challenges and effortlessly adapting to customer needs.
And finally, what advice would you offer to anyone aspiring to become a General Manager in the hotel industry?
Obviously the most important thing is to constantly focus on your guests. However, a successful General Manager not only needs a thorough working knowledge of all the technicalities involved in a customer facing role, but must also personally understand each member of staff and effectively lead and instruct them. Team work will always be key to efficiency, therefore a General Manager must instil corporate values and working ethics which encourage team working, collaboration and pride. This is a strenuous industry, reward doesn’t just happen overnight but is a process of hard work, commitment and dedication, so I’d encourage aspiring managers to define their goal and stick to it. Remaining committed to your guests means they will remain committed to you!
Further information on the Accra City Hotel, its facilities and services can be found on the hotel website – http://www.accracityhotel.com/