Brilliant online travel companies like AirBNB are slowly squeezing the hotel industry particularly in tourist destinations like the Caribbean. Many travellers are now discovering that in the Caribbean all beaches are public, this means everyone has the right to be on them. Where once hotels seemed to have control over their stretch of beach that is no longer the case and they are now having to compete with small businesses that are sprouting up just to rent beach chairs to AirBNB guests. What this means is that you don’t have to stay directly on the beach to have the beach experience. And travellers are starting to realize a quite villa on a hill above the ocean offers much better experiences.
The first victims of AirBNB are the “garden view” hotel room suites. Why would anyone choose to pay for a small garden view room, when they could rent a large room in a home with a view of the ocean for far less, and get free access to a number of beaches?
In Barbados a family can rent a 4 bedroom home through AirBNB with a pool, an awesome view of the ocean, and public beach access 5 minutes away, for just under $300/night. Compare this to one Superior room at the Marriot hotel in Barbados for $220/night and it is easy to see why the hospitality industry is in turmoil.
Add to this the rise of “Beach Clubs” like Nikki Beach and there is little reason to rent a room at a large corporate hotel.
So what is the answer? How can corporate hotel chains survive when AirBNB has so completely changed the playing field?
They have to start adapting to the change and offer more than just a room. They need to take a lesson from the small boutique hotels that are succeeding by attracting travellers with “experiential” opportunities. For starters, the land costs for a boutique hotel smart enough to know they don’t have to be right on the beach, are much lower. Boutique hotels offer travellers the chance to experience local culture and many of them set up partnerships with local businesses. Successful boutique hotels provide on site programming (yoga and cooking classes, nature hikes etc.) giving travellers more than just a room on the beach, but a memorable experience.
Corporate hotels have to change the way they do business. Sweeping policies that once guided their developments need to be strategically evaluated. For example here is a quote given by a development manager at the Marriott “We are currently interested only in a beach location for a luxury or an upper-upscale brand in Barbados.” That kind of archaic thinking is why so few of the large hotel chains succeed on islands like Barbados, where boutique hotels owned by private families control the luxury market.
Corporate hotels have a choice – change now or slowly watch their profits wither.
Imagine the stillness of an early morning at North to South in Barbados. You can hear the faint rhythmic sound of waves crashing on the beach down below. A lone rooster crows and then another further away answers back. The bed feels warm and cozy, but curiosity pulls at you. You get up, still impressed by the level of elegance and intuitiveness put into the design of the permanent tent you are staying in. No need to use the air conditioning during the night, as the open screen windows let in a cool breeze. A thick bathrobe hangs just inside the closet and the polished wood floors are smooth and cool beneath your feet. You brew a cup of coffee, hoping not to wake your partner, and take it outside.
The deck is damp with dew, but you pull your feet up beside you in a large comfortable chair. A few stars are still in the sky, and you can make out the fields and gullies rolling down to the ocean below. There is a faint sweet smell of smoke from burning palm fronds. The sky brightens, and the ocean changes from dark grey to steel blue. You remember the aqua blue colour it had the previous afternoon.
The sun finally breaks the horizon and a bird sings from a tree above. You listen and wait with him, he calls out again, sharing your anticipation for the day ahead. His call is answered from the gully below, and as the sun touches the tree tops the birds seem to wake up together, their calls turning to chatter that fills the early morning stillness. You can hear your partner getting up, and the smell of fresh bread floats in from the plantation house like a beacon calling you to breakfast.
You decide to find out what activities North to South is offering, the wifi works well and you log on to the handy app – a calendar that shows all the days free activities. You have trouble choosing between, the painting classes at 10am, or the gully hike, or the discussion on world finance with special keynote speaker. There is a pilates work out at 9:00am you just might make, and at 1pm there is a master chef cooking with organics class that might be fun. The beach shuttle (electric of course) runs every 10 minutes and you might want to go for a swim in the ocean later in the afternoon, but you’ll want to be back for the cocktail reception at the sunset bar as there will be a famous author giving a short reading. Later in the evening there is movie night for the kids down in the eco-lodge, and a “bridge battle” on the plantation terrace. And then you notice that you can sign up to help release turtle hatchlings the next morning, or help at the organic farm. So many options, but perhaps you’ll just take a morning swim, have breakfast and then spend the day in the hammock reading a book.
North to South Plantation ~ hear the stillness, touch the moments.
Join us in building this special place. Investors welcome. Email email@example.com
Patrick has 34 years of financial and operating experience, most recently as CFO of the Technicore Group, a vertically integrated heavy civil construction enterprise. Has been a CFO of both publicly traded and private companies -in broadcast media, biotechnology, merchant banking, specialty electronics. Managing Director of a financial services business, Director of a distilling and brewing company, and Chair of a not-for-profit organization.
To make some sort of difference in the world, no matter how small. Like the hand print our ancient ancestors left on a cave wall, we all want to leave our mark on the world. But what is it that makes some of us willing to push beyond our experiences, and our credentials, to take on challenges that others think impossible? I’ve heard some call it courage, but I’m more inclined to think it is a fear of not leaving that vital hand print.
I’m now on a journey to build environment centres and eco-glamping hotels in the Caribbean that will work to lower C02 emissions through education. I’m armed with my experiences of building a successful business and running an advocacy organization. And while some critics might think lowering C02 emissions impossible, I’m betting that if we create luxurious eco-vacations that provide environmental experiences to affluent travellers we’ll be able to reach people when they have time and are most open to learning. By attracting affluent travellers we will reach influencers from around the world, who will take our environmental message back to their home cities and combined with the work that so many other organizations are doing, we’ll have a chance at contributing to bringing about positive change.
The wonderful aspect to this is that by creating eco-glamping hotels not only will be creating great experiences for affluent travellers, and high returns for investors, but we’ll be setting an example of how to operate a green fully sustainable business. Our first boutique glamping resort with be in Barbados.
I know I’m going to need a lot of help and sometimes I think I’m just the person rubbing the sticks together to create sparks, it’s those other people who have joined us and are providing fuel to the fire who are truly making the difference.
All of us try in our journey to make the world a better place, the key is to do it with grace, humility, and compassion.
Michael Beckley, Senior Advisor, Board Director
Michael has over 50 years of hospitality industry experience gained in Europe, Bermuda, The West Indies and Canada. He currently works in an advisory capacity to CBRE Hotels after recently retiring from Marriott International as Senior Vice President, Lodging Development, growing the company across Canada from 17 hotels to 162. Michael was the former President of Commonwealth Hospitality, which company he was with for 23 years, until the company was sold in 1999; he also spent over a decade in the resort sector with responsibility for five luxury resorts in Barbados and Bermuda. He is a graduate of Westminster Hotel School in London.
Michael Beckley joins North to South
Toronto – April 13, 2017 – North to South continues to strengthen our Board of Directors and is delighted to announce the addition of Michael Beckley, FIH, CHA.
Michael has extensive experience in the hotel industry, most recently serving as Senior Vice President of Development for Marriott International in Canada.
“Michael is an iconic figure in the hotel industry, his hotel development experience, both in Canada and the Caribbean will be a terrific asset to North to South as we develop our brand” states Sarah Thomson, President and CEO of North to South Inc.
Michael has over 50 years of hospitality industry experience gained in Europe, Bermuda, The West Indies and Canada. He currently works, in an advisory capacity, at CBRE Hotels after recently retiring from Marriott International as Senior Vice President, Lodging Development, growing the company across Canada from 17 hotels to 162. Michael was the former President of Commonwealth Hospitality. A company he was with for 23 years, until the company was sold in 1999. He also spent over a decade in the resort sector with responsibility for five luxury resorts in Barbados and Bermuda. He is a graduate of Westminster Hotel School in London.
North to South is a social enterprise with a mission to move Caribbean nations from their dependence on burning fossil fuels for energy to using of renewables. With most island nations fully dependent on burning heavy oil to create energy, a structured and focused effort must be made to bring about change. This will require a long-term dedicated strategy, and with C02 emissions in the Caribbean increasing rapidly, an organized effort to educate communities, and move government policy forward is essential.
Our first step will be to set up a centre in the Caribbean where we can work to educate the public, support advocacy efforts, and build both our influence and credibility across the region. We must ensure the project is self-sustaining; it must attract influencers from around the world; and it must integrate with local communities. To that end an eco-boutique glamping hotel and environment centre, offering unique programming will supply a perfect base for our work. It will bring together influencers – affluent travellers from around the world – with local advocates and educators. We will offer classes in art, nature, organic cooking and farming to travellers taught by local educators. We will host an annual music and art festival to raise awareness around the use of fossil fuels in the Caribbean.
Our mission to move the Caribbean from burning fossil fuels to using renewable energy will shape our programming, and in turn, the programming will attract affluent travellers providing income to sustain our work.
After extensive research Barbados was chosen as the island to begin our work. It attracts a large number of affluent travellers, has a shortage of luxury hotels, and a large number of daily flights from international cities around the world. It is also an island heavily dependent on burning fossil fuels for energy.
North to South is developing a large plantation into an environment centre and eco-boutique hotel. It will be fully off the grid, with a low carbon footprint. It will offer unique luxury glamping experiences and bring the local community together with the international environmental community. Once our environmental base is set up in Barbados we will create partnerships on other islands.
It will be a long process, but one well worth setting out on. If you would like to join our journey, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org