Even as much of the rest of the local hotel and hospitality industry worries about less than encouraging levels of visitor arrivals, Clifton Bacchus, proprietor of the Sleepin International Hotel on Brickdam says that his 60-room facility customarily enjoys a 95 per cent occupancy rate.
It is a remarkable achievement in a country not known for all-year-round visitors. Bacchus says that, over time, the Sleepin has become popular with a clientele that includes customers from North America and Europe, the Caribbean and increasingly, various parts of Guyana.
Perhaps the popularity of the establishment has to do with the fact that it has managed to combine an air of informality with service standards that please its broad clientele. Or it may just be that the Sleepin, now clearly one of the larger, more popular hotels in Georgetown and its environs,
manages to keep its rates below those of its serious competitors.
Bacchus is an unassuming family man whom you might mistake for a casual employee rather than an owner. He is a ‘hands on’ kind of proprietor who is not averse to throwing in his lot to accomplish the most ordinary chores. It is by no means unusual to see him supporting his staff in chores as simple as moving chairs around to accommodate visitors to the bar.
Bacchus comes from a business family.
His father, David, now deceased, once owned The Sheriff, which, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, used to be an icon of urban night life. Another family member, a sister, Martina, runs Martina’s Boutique and Cambio. By choice, she is not a practicing Attorney At Law, a pursuit for which she is qualified. Bacchus’s wife, Jennifer, runs the Reliance store on Regent Street.
In 2004 Bacchus embarked on his first investment in the hotel and hospitality sector, establishing the ‘original’ Sleepin, a 13-room facility on Church Street. That hotel targeted the Brazilians whom, by then had established themselves in the local business sector, primarily the gold mining industry.
Cricket World Cup in 2007 and the prior incentives offered to investors in the sector by government persuaded Bacchus to go deeper into the hotel industry. Expansion was facilitated by family ownership of the plot of land on which the larger Sleepin now sits. Overall, the larger Sleepin represents an investment of around US$5 million.
Bacchus says that he did well both before and during the Cricket World and believes that the marketing secured from the period of the World Cup has helped to sustain his clientele. Much of his marketing is done via the internet and, he says, he believes that good service has yielded a number of ‘return’ customers.
Much of the training for the staff of 60 that run the Sleepin is rooted in Bacchus’ own preoccupation with providing customers with high standards. Training, he says, derives in large measure from ensuring that his employees understand what he wants.
The services provided by the Sleepin include a Spa, a Gym, Salon, a Swimming Pool and a Conference and Entertainment Hall. A play area for children who are guests of the hotel is currently under construction.
The Sleepin’s kitchen is a spacious area where cooking appears to be a sustained pursuit. The Hotel’s menu comprises mostly local dishes though one expects that some accommodation is made for foreign tastes.
Bacchus continues to modify his operations to meet the demands of his guests. In response to enquiries the hotel is currently creating a room that can accommodate up to eight guests. The project is inextricably bound up with Bacchus’ philosophy that his customers are amongst his most valued advisors.
At night, guests at the Sleepin and visitors to the hotel congregate in the area around the pool or in a more discreet area in front of the premises to entertain themselves. Even then, Bacchus can be seen busying himself around the hotel, ensuring that both occupants and visiting night time revellers are satisfied.
Bacchus has been sufficiently encouraged by what the hotel and hospitality sector has to offer to position himself to become the country’s premier hotelier. He disclosed that construction work has already started on the erection of a five-storey, 200-room hotel at the corners of Church and Albert streets. It is an ambitious project that embraces all of the facilities associated with a high-end hotel, including, he hopes, a casino. Bacchus has indicated that he in the sector for the long haul and believes that his investments will pay dividends in the future.