Elegant Hotels Group in Barbados appears
to be challenging conventional wisdom about leveraging a brand.
Each of its five properties targets a completely different consumer
segment and offers different meal plans, atmosphere and price
It's as if
Starwood had only five hotels in total and one was a W, one a
Sheraton, one a Westin, one a Four Points and one a Le
If it turns out
that each of the EHG properties is, in fact, a prototype for a
sub-brand, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. It may not have
consistency within the group, but EHG has put together a portfolio
of attractive and well-managed properties in a very competitive
product, the adults-only The House, has
no concierge nor bell desk, but has 14 white-suited "ambassadors"
to serve guests in its 34 rooms.
are specifically assigned to each room, though guests are
encouraged to convey their needs to whichever ambassador they
happen to chance upon first.
"I watch how the
ambassadors work, and they remind me of ducks swimming," said
Catherine Beckett, the hotel's general manager. "You look at them,
and it's like they're gliding along, but below the water their
little feet are paddling like mad."
There is much
attention to detail at The House. A "sense of arrival" is
orchestrated for guests: They enter
along a torch-lit boardwalk driveway, with their ambassadors
present to greet them with a cold towel and drink. Peering into the
doors of the hotel they see more torches and rows of
They are offered
a complimentary, 30-minute, jetlag-revival massage. Guests in the
four luxury garden suites can further unwind in their private
The House's next
door neighbor, separated only by Daphne's, a sister to the
high-tone London restaurant of the same name, is Tamarind Cove,
another EHG property serving a very different clientele.
With 110 suites
and rooms, it's an upscale, almost
all-inclusive property (that is, drinks are not included). Each
room has a private balcony or patio, and it has an expansive,
hammock-strewn lawn leading down to the beach.
Barbados' west coast (or, in marketing-speak, Platinum Coast) is
the Colony Club.
A former private
club, it has recently been renovated, and the new bathrooms alone
would make my apartment weep with feelings of
It has 96 suites
and rooms and manages to feel spacious, intimate and exclusive
simultaneously; it has retained the private club feel.
Each room has
either a balcony or a patio (more generous in size than Tamarind
Cove), and several suites have private entrances to lagoon-style
pools. Its only obvious shortcoming was its health club, which is
long overdue for a well-check. (Management promises that a
renovation of the gym is forthcoming.)
Also on the west
coast is Crystal Cove, an all-inclusive -- drinks, too -- that has a more mass-market
feel than Tamarind Cove.
It is situated on
a plan that includes more vertical drop, and rooms are set along
nicely landscaped walkways that lead down to the beach.
It has a very
family-friendly environment and, although it has fewer rooms and
suites than Tamarind or Colony (Crystal has 88), it feels more
I was unable to
inspect the 164-room, all-inclusive Turtle Beach Resort along the
rapidly developing south coast (not yet nicknamed). Although
marketers tend to gravitate toward shiny metals for inspiration, I
suggest dubbing it "The Less-Expensive, Better-Nightlife,
Beach fact sheet suggests that the property has a stunning, wide,
white-sand beach, and that it's very kid-friendly.
properties face different markets, the ones I saw all had
similarities that help define EHG as a brand: Each appeared to be
well-managed, had multiple pools, were exceptionally well
landscaped, and it's clear that management views patios and
balconies as more than just a small expanse of concrete.
It's not a group
in which clients will necessarily move from property to property
over succeeding years, but that's not necessarily a problem: If
placed in the right property to begin with, they may simply return
to the same hotel year after year.
To contact editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, send e-mail to