One of the most amazing things about having a bachelor degree in hospitality or a diploma in hotel management, is the number of different paths your career can take; the places you can end up in, the different roles you enjoy.
Georgios Papazoglou is a case in point. He graduated with a diploma in international hotel management in 1985. He has had such varied jobs as Director and Country Manager for Club Med in Greece and Chief Operating Officer for Easy Cruise by Easy Group. Now he is General Manager at Coco Bodu Hithi, a Coco Collection deluxe island resort in the Indian Ocean.
I have oversight of everything here. It’s not just a resort. Is a resort island. We are isolated, by ourselves. I am responsible for the smooth operation of the island and the well-being of our guests and associates. I take care of the day-to-day lives of approximately 600 people – 370 employees, plus 200 guests in our 100 deluxe villas.
So, what sort of skills does a GM of an island resort have to have? Well, pretty much everything, it seems. Operational skills aside, Georgios needs great communication, motivation, coaching and participation skills. He needs to lead through example and to oversee the business development and promotion of the resort, which – with occupancy rate at an enviable 92% –must already be pretty good at.
But there is another angle, which back in 1985, Georgios probably wouldn’t have imagined as being part of his work. Balancing the delicate relationship between the environment and tourism, particularly tourism in island resorts, is considered key to the sustainability of this segment of the tourism industry. Like many hotels they engage in recycling, and use organic, local food. But their interaction with the environment goes a lot further.
Coco Badu Hithi runs Marine Life protection program, encouraging guests to get involved with their conservation efforts, to learn about the amazing island wildlife and to discover the wide variety of sea-life that feeds around the coral.
“The Marine Biology Center is the main hub for this work. It’s where the Turtle ID Project, the Sharkwatch and the coral nurseries projects are run, and where we arrange private excursions with guests.
We work on an identification program for turtles and mantas, using photo identification based on distinguishable individual features (scales pattern for turtles and ventral spots for mantas), and on a shark census (Sharkwatch) in collaboration with the diving center.
We also monitor our 6 coral nurseries (the 7th is coming) and keep improving them by adding new corals. We also work to keep our sea clean from garbage and parasites (especially the snail Drupella and the Crown of Thorns starfish), both able to wipe out an entire coral reef if left unchecked.”
Georgios describes this work as ‘very significant’. It seems that Coco Badu Hithi has managed to strike the right note of making environmental education both deluxe and interesting.
Whilst it probably won’t ever be the primary reason holiday makers choose a luxury island resorts such as this, without a healthy marine environment, island resort and coastal tourism would wither.
When reflecting on his time in Bluche, Georgios says: Les Roches formed my character. I became more organized, paid better attention to detail, became better at communicating.” He adds: “It was a very significant part of my life, these three years at Les Roches and in Switzerland in general. Les Roches formed my character a lot.”
So, whilst we can’t credit this environmental work to Georgios’ course at Les Roches, we can credit Les Roches’ education for the development of a mindset that appreciates the value of such an important issue, and can work out ways to harness it for good.
It wasn’t available then, but it is now! You can take the Innovation and Sustainability specialization course in the bachelor of business degree program and learn how to adapt hospitality operations to environmental concerns whilst increasing market share.