The Intimate Hotels of Barbados group is celebrating 23 years of providing service excellence in the hospitality industry. This membership association of 40 hotels started in 2000 under the trading name Small Hotels of Barbados Inc. and represents the best of the island’s small hotels, apartments, guest houses and villas.

To celebrate its 23rd anniversary, Intimate Hotels of Barbados is taking its valued public behind the scenes to learn some of its history and meet some members of the group; the second of which is Infinity on the Beach. 

The hotel which is located in picturesque St. Lawrence Gap is operated by former Executive Director of Intimate Hotels of Barbados, Renée Coppin, who took over the property in 2014 following her success with the management and operation of sister property, Pirate’s Inn.

“Infinity on the Beach started its operations in 2014. This property was previously operating as a different hotel, and it was closed and shuttered for about three years. We started renovations in 2013 and began operations officially in January 2014. I lease the property, but the business is mine. I actually own another hotel called Pirate’s Inn. At the time I was seeking to do renovations for Pirate’s Inn and everyone I asked for funding for the renovations said that they preferred to finance properties that were 50 rooms or more. So, I thought it made sense to start looking around for a property with more rooms. I happened upon this property and started discussions with the owners and that is how it evolved,” she said.

But how did Infinity on the Beach get its name?

Coppin disclosed that it was actually her engineer who exclaimed that the view from the penthouse room looked like an infinity pool and from there the concept for the hotel was born. 

“It [concept] came from my engineer who was walking into one of our penthouse and he said, ‘Oh my God, that view is like an infinity pool’, and that is how the concept came about. I also thought about how it related to people coming here and having a good time and not wanting their experience to end so that infinity tied into so many positive things that we thought it was something that we could build our brand around,” she said.

Coppin always knew that she wanted to become involved in the tourism industry, thus when the opening presented itself for her to be the Founding Executive Director of Intimate Hotels of Barbados, she jumped at the opportunity.

“From the beginning, I had a passion for small hotels because I realised from very early that if you wanted to have ownership it would have to start within the small hotel sector. Intimate Hotels was the first place I saw black women owning businesses. Elizabeth Johnson was a member and when I took over, she was one of the owners who I interacted with.  I subsequently had the opportunity to lease the property from her and I now own it. There was never a thought that I would not be a part of Intimate Hotels because I am passionate about what it does, what it represents and the opportunities it gives to us to have a bigger voice as small players.  We can leverage our position to speak for a grouping that is very disparate but common in the terms of the things we do and offer to our guests. The interpersonal interactions that you get in a small hotel I do not think that you can replicate it in a larger property and that is what I love about Intimate Hotels. If you go into any one of them, you feel as though you are part of a family and that is what makes our guests come back to us; they feel as though they are returning home,” she said.

Coppin who is the chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association added that one of the reasons why small hotels like Infinity on the Beach and Pirate’s Inn have repeat guests is because of the personalised touch that is given by each member of staff. 

“I want to say that all of my staff are very critical to this project that we call Infinity on the Beach. In this industry without people, you are nothing. Each and every member of my team is integral and there is no one who is more important than the other as every part of the body here is integral to the whole. I have some staff members who have been with me from the beginning and some who are newer, especially post Covid-19, but each and every one of them is critical to the experience we offer,” she said.

With this in mind, Coppin shared some passionate words of advice for any person seeking to enter the hotel industry.

“The reality is when you run your own business you have to be prepared to work hard because you have to be the last man standing and be prepared to be the last man standing. When things happen, it is ultimately your responsibility and unless you are ready to take that responsibility then you are not suited to that kind of a goal. There are a lot of positions and opportunities available where you do not have to work hard but I do not know where they are as I have not yet discovered them,” she added. (Write Right PR Services)