PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos -- Andrew Hedley, managing
director at Point Grace resort here, is a man with a mission:
Whipping this tony, 4-year-old condo/hotel complex -- still one of
Provo's most exclusive properties -- back into the tip-top shape
owners and overnight guests deserve.
To all appearances, Hedley -- a young father of two who's
already managed to hone his hospitality skills in London, Anguilla,
the British Virgin Islands, France and even Botswana -- already has
succeeded, but he said he's still taking a four-pronged approach to
further polish this diamond "in the not-so-rough."
First, he's introducing more value-added services; then, he'll
direct what he called "massive" investments in facility upgrades at
the property, which opened in January 2000.
Third, Hedley's focused on hiring and training top-of-the-line
staff, and last, he's furthering the resort's existing partnerships
with travel agents.
"I'll be honest: I inherited a property that was not in the best
shape because the owner hadn't made the best management choices in
hiring," he said.
To wit, Hedley is the fourth manager hired in five years.
"But I'm very much about putting together a team that can pull
this off because Point Grace is the type of property I identify
with -- one that offers personalized attention with a hands-on
approach where you can make a difference," he said.
So, guests checking into one of the resort's 27 rentable suites
-- all one to three bedrooms with kitchens -- soon will find
continental breakfast again included in the rates, along with the
existing free airport transfers; afternoon poolside sorbet; and
evening cocktails and hors-d'oeuvres.
Another perk-in-the-works: free fresh, sliced fruit platters and
water misters by the pool.
In terms of facilities, Point Grace will spend $400,000 this
year on furnishings such as linens and beach furniture; however,
any updates will stick to the resort's much-acclaimed, signature
Indonesian/Balinese design aesthetic.
"It's a fairly significant reinvestment for a property this
size," Hedley said. "A large part of this effort is making sure the
place seems fine and lives up to guest expectations."
Hedley started at Point Grace last September, during a
six-week-long closure for cleaning and what he termed
As if in commemoration of that anniversary, he will shut the
already meticulous property for five weeks again in September for
what he claimed is a much-needed repainting job.
In the meantime, he's ensuring that staff meet exacting service
standards; if a recent visit was any indication, Point Grace staff
are among the friendliest and most professional at a resort of its
size in the islands.
"The focus also is on building our [management] team," said
Hedley. "The reaction I get about our staff is positive."
Point Grace is looking to cultivate its ties to the travel
trade; although high-end tour operators and online travel sellers
have eaten into the market, whittling the portion of bookings the
resort gets from agents down to 25% -- from a one-time high of 35%
-- Hedley said the retailer model works better both for resorts and
the traveling consumer.
"Online [outlets] like Luxurylink.com and the like are not
working because as soon as you have to [discount] by about 20%,
it's just not worth it," he said.
"I think that's where agents have to come in: Luxury travel is
something people spend a lot on, and they don't want to make
mistakes, so they go through agents who know what they're doing,"
said Hedley. "And if everything goes pear-shaped, they've got
someone to blame."
In addition, most repeat guests continue to book through the
high-end agents who made the original reservations, so "from a
marketing point of view, the travel trade is still a force and will
remain so," added Hedley.
"You have to look out for the hand that feeds you," he said.
One way Point Grace plans to reconcile the Internet age with the
retailer-distribution model is to offer separate online booking
engines for Virtuoso and unaffiliated travel agents at www.pointgrace.com;
after registration, agents will get access to special deals and
A launch date for online booking functionality was not available
at press time.
For more information, call Point Grace at (866) 924-7223; send
an e-mail message to [email protected]; or visit the
resort's Web site at www.pointgrace.com.
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].
Room Key: POINT GRACE RESORT
Address: P. O. Box 700, Providenciales, Turks &
Caicos, British West Indies
Phone: (649) 946-5096
Reservations: (866) 924-7223
Managing director: Andrew Hedley
Rates: $395 to $4,000 per room, per night through
Suites: 27 for rent, out of 32 suites and
penthouses on site.
Facilities: Grace's Cottage restaurant and
poolside restaurants; business center; CD/DVD library; Thalasso
Amenities: Transfers; cocktail and canape party;
shuttle to golf/tennis/gym. Also available: meal plan; grocery
shopping, secretarial services; babysitting; private chef.
Review: Despite the talk of a much-needed
overhaul, Point Grace offers top-of-the-line comfort, luxury and
service. Staff is friendly and accommodating; a poolside
one-bedroom suite with kitchenette is spacious and well furnished.
Beachfront Thalasso Spa -- where director Edmonde offers treatments
in private huts with ocean views -- is world-class, as is cuisine
at the on-site Grace's Cottage restaurant.