Hospitality Circle Group: Worldwide Creativity
In the last decade or more, Accra has become one of West Africa’s fastest growing cities for business and leisure, thanks to Ghana’s vigorous and vibrant democratic governance that has ensured a relatively stable political and macro-economic environment since 1992.
Just as the city’s visitors for business and leisure have increased over the years, so have its hotels, restaurants, resorts and hospitality facilities. And investors have come from far and near to take a bite of the cherry of business opportunities that have accompanied the rapid expansion of economic activities in the city.
So far as business is concerned, Dutch-based Hospitality Circle Group is one of the early bird investors. It first came to Accra 18 years ago when it won a contract to do Golden Tulip Hotel’s first renovation. Since then, the company has been in and out of Accra working on similar renovation projects with several of Accra’s hotels, Alisa Hotel being one of them. The Group also supplies many of the city’s hotels everything from bedding to shampoo.
With blossoming business prospects in Accra and other cities across West Africa, the Group believes it’s time it set up a studio and showroom in Accra permanently to service its growing clientele in the sub-region. “We’ve been working here (Accra) for a long time now and we know Accra very well. Accra is the centre of our business right now. It is just a logical step for us to start in Accra and then move to Lagos and other locations in West Africa,” says Hospitality Circle Group’s project manager, Ruth van Toledo.
Recently, the company again won another contract to renovate Golden Tulip Hotel and is already about half way through transforming the whole of the hotel — from the rooms to the public area, the pool area, to the chalets — into a more modern and authentic hospitality centre. The renovation works which are expected to be completed by June 2010 is running alongside the normal operations of the hotel, but without much visible signs of the contractor at work. “We are very strong at working around the operator while the operator goes about his job uninterrupted,” says Van Toledo.
Actually, the company spent a considerable time in the last two years planning the on-going renovation works at Golden Tulip. Interior Consult, one of the group’s five brands, was tasked to develop new designs for standard Golden Tulip rooms so as to give users a touch of African flavour. Interior Consult has also made new designs for the hotel’s restaurants and conference area as well as the main entrance of the hotel, thereby imbuing the hotel with a Euro-African aesthetic ambience.
Apart from Interior Consult, the Group also has four other brands, namely, Hotel Supply, Hotel Purchase, Hotel Tech and Central Florida Design, which play different but complementary roles in the group’s operations. Hotel Supply specialises in the procurement and delivery of all kinds of hospitality related supplies. This unit has more than 10 years of experience in offering a complete range of hospitality products and equipment including guest room products, “front and back house” products, food and beverages, and others.
Hotel Purchase develops web-based procurement applications for the hospitality sector. The benefits of its software include centralization of information, ease of ordering and work flow, all of which translate into time saving and accuracy for its clients.
Then there is Hotel Tech which specialises in various project installations such as light wall systems, doors and frames, wall finishing, flooring, tiling, lighting, ceiling and bathroom sanitary and fittings. The last unit, Central Florida Design is a location-specific full service interior design firm based in Orlando, Florida, USA, which specialises in private residential, model home merchandising and community clubhouse design.
Of the five brands, Interior Consult is easily the most important as it plays the role of a full range specialist in commercial interior design. Its activities start from the design and planning stages through to the final installation, and by the time the work has gone full circle, the other units would have had their fair share of the business.
Regarding its on-going Golden Tulip project, for example, while Interior Consult is currently executing the approved designs, Hotel Supply is filling in the gaps where operating supplies and equipment are needed. Van Toledo explains the convenience of making the Group a one-stop shop: “Normally when you have a separate designer and a separate builder, problems occur due to different responsibilities. We do both so that our clients will avoid a lot of problems.”
The Group’s style of operation also comes with a “local content” package. “In the area of supplies and because Golden Tulip is a European brand, we’re importing a special fabric for curtains, but the curtains are being sewn by a local company in Accra. We also hire local people to fix our electrical items, mirrors and wall decorations,” says Toledo. She explains further that, “It is important that we work with local people. As investors, we bring in knowledge and combine it with that of the local people and I think that helps us to do a good job.”
Hospitality Circle Group looks ahead to a bright future in West Africa. “We think we see a great market for hospitality in West Africa and we are paying close attention especially as the region continues to attract more and more business people and tourists. We want to help the hospitality industry to provide nice and decent places for these business people and tourists when they visit West Africa. Apart from hotels, we are also experienced in working in the office-space, retail and residential area. We want to provide cosmopolitan places in West-Africa.” she emphasises.