30.12.2010 Feature Article

My Toast For 2010

My Toast For 2010
30.12.2010 LISTEN

Indeed, this is a period for sober reflection both for individuals and corporate bodies. It is the period when businesses are reviewing their entire performance for the year. Individual employees are also busy finishing hard so they can begin to match their set targets against their actual performances for the year to justify any bonus payments.

On personal basis, many are taking stock, busy looking at the successes and failures in their lives and will soon be taking New Year resolutions with a view to correcting their shortfalls.

With just two days to exit the year, I have been looking back and reflecting at the national level on some of the success stories and achievers during this sexy year — 2010.

I have scanned the media and have looked around too. It is amazing the number of individual hard working and innovative role models who have met my mark. These are individuals who, on consistent basis, have achieved something not only for themselves but for their nation and have put Ghana in a global limelight.

With my special interest in the development of the youth, I narrowed in to those individuals who seem to have carried their entrepreneurial tendencies to a height and who the youth can look up to as a model of true possibility in the Ghanaian or for that matter, the African.

As we count down to 2011, I raise my glass to drink to the toast of Patrick Kwadwo Fares, the individual who owns the Holiday Inn Hotel located at the Airport City in Accra.

For those who have travelled far and wide, the name Holiday Inn Hotel only brings to mind the international hotel chain operating across the world. Most of the time, you do not even ask who owns that hotel chain because it is automatically assumed that it is owned by a multi-dollar billionaire or family from the western world.

Instinctively, that is what my mind focused on when I first heard of the opening of the chain hotel in Ghana a little over a couple of years ago. The hotel hopped into the limelight when the US President, Mr Barrack Obama, his family and his entourage stayed there during their visit to Ghana mid last year.

That to me even helped seal the notion that it is a global hotel chain owned by and used by the rich and the famous. My discovery this year that the hotel is owned by a Ghanaian made me jump with pride.

Holiday Inn Accra is the brain child of one simple man of Ghanaian origin, Patrick Kwadwo Fares, a thorough bred entrepreneur with two shades of entrepreneurial blood running through his veins.

With a mother from the Kwahu mountains and a Lebanese father (both known for their business acumen), no wonder Patrick ended up understanding the inside out of the business world. He chose to go into the hotel and tourism industry and he seems to have done well with it too.

Patrick nursed the idea of a four star hotel as his ambition to contribute to tourism development years ago. His idea came to fruition in 2008. So how did the name Holiday Inn come in?

With eyes for quality and high standards, he perceived a hotel with a global flavour. He consequently approached Holiday Inn International for a franchise. Having met the necessary international requirements, he was given the franchise which meant that he could go ahead and carry the name of the global hotel chain.

He must have indeed passed the test for the US President to have made his hotel his home during his brief visit to Ghana. Apparently, way before the President arrived in Ghana, an advanced team had visited the hotel to conduct their own safety, security and perhaps comfort checks before the nod was finally given as the place of choice. And indeed, President Obama brought him a lot of luck as well as prestige. The flow of guests has not stopped. Occasionally, he gets requests where top priority guests ask to stay in “President Obama’s suite”.

Prior to opening the Holiday Inn Hotel, Patrick had been running other budget hotels on a smaller scale. He is the owner of the Royal Airport Hotel and Travel Express. He has also acquired the former Atlantic Hotel located in the oil city, Takoradi, which he is currently busy putting into shape for opening in 2011.

Any wonder that the Millennium Excellence Awards Foundation recently awarded him a joint prize for tourism promotion in Ghana. Patrick who also owns a furniture and timber business employs a total of 700 people, two hundred and fifty of whom are working at the Holiday Inn Hotel. His aim is to put Holiday Inn Accra forward as the best Holiday Inn hotel in the sub region.

When I caught up with him, I asked Patrick Fares how he is able to motivate his employees in order to continually maintain the standards that have earned him the franchise and the status of a four star hotel. His simple answer was: “team work”.

Using the local broom to illustrate his point, the Holiday Inn CEO believes that every member of his staff, down from the cleaner right up to the General Manager and the CEO, securely tied together, they can do a good job of thorough “cleaning” as opposed to a single broom stick. Similarly, together, even the strongest man in Ghana cannot break the broom. However, when taken as individual broom sticks, they make easy breaking.

Staff motivation is also prime to him. Consequently, he has been looking at both the big things and the small things such as staff birthday gifts which, according to him, go to make a lot of difference because then the staff see themselves as family members because you remember their birthdays, one of the important days in a person’s life.

Perhaps, what makes Holiday Inn more appealing is the hotel’s local touch. Though holding a global franchise, the Holiday Inn has blended the international touch with a local taste and that taste is apparently what draws some guests to the hotel.

The use of Ghanaian architects and engineers who helped create the beautiful architecture punctuated with stone work all add up to the Ghanaian feel. The furnishing one sees around the hotel are all locally made and to complete it all, the hotel tries as much as possible to add a blend of Ghanaian dishes on its menu list. Sundays tend to be for Ghanaian specialities.

Patrick Kwadwo Fares’ entrepreneurial savvy is inspiring. He has created jobs for seven hundred Ghanaians and has promoted tourism at its highest level. It does not stop there. Next year, he plans to take his hotel interest and tourism promotion to the oil city in anticipation of the business opportunities and the tourism potential of the western region in view of the oil businesses due to flourish in the region.

He not only thinks global and acts local but he sees far ahead also into the future. Patrick Kwadwo Fares is a true entrepreneur, a positive role model for emulation by the youth as we enter a new year.

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