The Turks & Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association is applauding the achievements of its Young Leaders, a group of tourism ambassadors selected by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association in 2019 for the inaugural Young Leaders’ Forum. These local leaders make up the Turks & Caicos delegation of a larger group of representatives throughout the Caribbean region.
Ms. Karen King of Point Grace Resort recently made headlines after being successful in winning the Les Roches Bursary, granted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Education Foundation (CHTAEF) and the Les Roches Hospitality Management Institution.
Karen, who was one of 13 candidates throughout the entire Caribbean receiving a 50% bursary, was chosen from a group of 150 applicants vying for the scholarships being facilitated via the CHTAEF’s Professional Development Program.
Sharing on her decision to apply, Karen said “Ultimately I took a look at my career goals and the impact I want to make in my workplace, community, and for the country. I decided to align my personal development plans with my desire to become a General Manager. I was compelled to apply, and my current GM, Ms. Beverly Howell, played a pivotal part in the decision as a role model and mentor.” Karen’s studies are underway, as she pursues her Executive Masters in International Hotel Management with Les Roches.
Commenting on the recent announcement, Sonia Simmons, President of the TCHTA Young Leaders’ Group, shared “We are especially excited for Karen as she is a driven, hard-working individual who is not fond of the spotlight but has achieved so much to be proud of. She is carrying the torch for us as the sole recipient from Turks & Caicos, and I have no doubt that she will excel as the consummate overachiever she is.”
As one TCHTA Young Leader sets her sights on the General Manager role, another has successfully shattered that ‘glass ceiling’. TCHTA Young Leader, Snjezana Andrews, was recently announced as the new General Manager of The Somerset on Grace Bay, a premier luxury resort here in Turks & Caicos. Snjezana’s appointment makes her one of only three local females currently holding the GM position at luxury properties in the destination.
With her strengths and background in Finance along with her reputation as a successful entrepreneur in the tourism space, Snjezana was a stand-out and clear choice to lead the boutique property as they rebrand and climb to a top position in the ranks of the country’s leading resorts.
Of her appointment, Snjezana says “Throughout my professional career, I have excelled in all the areas that are crucial to navigating this role; finance, marketing, and management. Having successfully built and managed multiple businesses in the tourism sector, the designation of General Manager at a resort property may be a new one, but I am no stranger to the skills and knowledge necessary to take my team and our product to the next level of success. I am proud to be leading this team, and excited about the new challenges ahead.”
Stacy Cox, CEO of the TCHTA - and a former resort General Manager herself - shared, “The seat of GM is still by and large a male-dominated one, which means that a female appointment brings with it a lot of excitement. The fact that Snjezana is one of the association’s Young Leaders gives us even more reason to be proud. This is an exceptional opportunity for Snjezana and The Somerset team, and I’m excited to see her use the role to develop the resort’s brand with the strengths she brings to the table.”
In fact, the association’s CEO say the TCHTA Young Leaders have all shown their resilience amid the pandemic and have made some remarkable advancements in a time that was especially challenging for the industry.
Ms. Sonia Simmons has launched a local Public Relations and Marketing company, SOS Media. The boutique entity provides public relations, social media management, and specializes in building marketing strategies to drive higher engagement and reach for properties and businesses in the tourism space.
Another of the Young Leaders, Ms. Judith Guerrier, has joined the Ritz-Carlton team as its new Sales Manager, expanding on her previous role as a Reservations Manager. She serves as the on-site representative to prospective clients and customers, building relationships that generate sales opportunities. “Telling a story, painting a picture, and selling the excitement of the resort and all it has to offer makes my position an enjoyable one,” says Judith.
Since being selected by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association to be a part of the 23-member regional group, the TCHTA Young Leaders, which also includes Tanya Williams of The Somerset on Grace Bay and Llana Ewing of Grace Bay Club, have remained active with both local and regional activities. The group gave assistance during the pandemic through volunteering with the TCHTA’s Community Staples Mission, and the TCIAA’s mock exercises where they provided feedback on the protocols and guidelines for the airport prior to the country reopening its borders. They also participated in the TCHTA’s 2020 Virtual “Hello Tourist” exercise, exposing youth to the varied roles in the industry.
The group looks forward to continued community involvement through opportunities for mentoring and volunteering.