Bad Times For Hospitality Sector Samora

Manager of Hotel Grand Casamora, a leading ultra-modern boutique hotel in Accra, has said the last two years have not been favourable to hoteliers and the country’s hospitality sector in general.

Chris Afriyie Samora took NEWS-ONE on a tour of the Grand Casamora, while granting an interview on the challenges hoteliers have encountered and his thoughts on hotel related matters.

Are hoteliers really making some good money?

Not necessarily because we literally reinvest all we earn and some are even closing down. The last two years have not been the best for hoteliers in Ghana. Normally hotel guests are people coming for business or for holidays. But when the economy is down, few business people come in and this has really affected us. When the Ebola scare also came up, many foreign tourists decided to stay away from West Africa all together and Ghana was affected although we did not have a single Ebola case here.

When you put all these together, it is a huge challenge. In other jurisdictions where the government believes in tourism and the hospitality sector, there would have been some support; but in Ghana, we are left on our own to face the challenges we did not create or call for.

Some complain hotel rates in Ghana are among the highest in the world.

It is a basic truth that hotel rates in Ghana are relatively expensive compared to our neighbouring countries and even sometimes the western world but there is an explainable reason for it and not that we the hotel owners just want to be expensive. At the end of the day, if you could reduce your rates and sell more rooms, it is better than pegging it high and not selling the rooms.

The point is, we also run at a higher administrative and maintenance cost compared to the western world. For example, the cost of providing 24/7 electricity supply has gone very high and gradually killing our business. Energy cost alone is becoming the biggest budget on the bill. And aside the normal monthly bill you pay to the Electricity Company of Ghana, the erratic power outages have also delved us a big blow and thrown our budget out of gear as we invest in generators and diesel for alternative sources of energy.

Another reason is the maintenance cost. We live in a part of the world where we have a poor maintenance culture. So we have to invest more in that aspect so that we can ensure our facilities are up to standard at all times. This brings an additional cost—huge cost.

The rate at which we change our curtains, sheets, furniture, painting and what have you is also faster than what happens in Europe because of our weather, dust, heat and all that.

We also have a harsh working environment that adds on to our cost. Government taxes, permits, all sorts of payments and at the end of the year, when you quantify all those cost you realise you have literally given back all your profit.

I hear at the Hotel Grand Casamora your weekends start on Thursdays.

You can say so. On Thursdays we have a comedy show. Our headline artiste is Baba Spirit. He recently won the Overall Best Comedian of the Year at the GN Bank Awards. Sammy B and other comedians also pass through and it goes very well. There are also comedy hopefuls who pass through. There is also an open mike section where anyone who has a joke can walk up there and crack our ribs.

Fridays we have veteran highlife musicians playing live band here all night long. We are talking about very old names of highlife musicians who people hardly hear of. And this is not only for our guests but for people who love good live band music. It is a very enjoyable and memorable event and the ambiance is always exciting and fun. Smart Nkansah, Pat Thomas and Sloopy Mike Gyamfi have all played here.

On Saturdays we have the club night for the youth. We are surrounded by several universities. University of Ghana, Wisconsin, UPSA, Bradford, Islamic University, Nosford and several others have surrounded us so we tend to have a lot of youthful ladies and of course men coming for the club nights on Saturdays. From Thursday to Saturday, we have a packed weekend.

What makes you different from others?

It is a boutique hotel where we have tailor-made services for each client. Each client has a unique need and taste and it makes sense to give each client exactly what he [or she] wants. Some are tourist clients here for pleasure, others for business; and it makes sense to vary the services by profiling their needs and meeting their expectations.

We are lucky to have just 20 rooms and our strength is in our small size because it helps us have special attention for each of them. Our small size makes us very flexible to suit individual needs.

By Halifax Ansah-Addo (Twitter: @HalifaxAnsahAdd)

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