General News Thu, 24 May 2012

Things Fall Apart At Novotel

Staff of the four-star Novotel Hotel in Accra have told this paper that a refusal by new Belgian General Manager, Mr. Marc Frère, to have the garbage room of the hotel refitted with air conditioners to replace the current one, which is broken down, pose a danger to clients of the restaurant.

Sources say Mr. Frère has insisted as part of cost cutting measures that he would not retool the garbage room since the air-conditioner in the garbage centre broke down.

Hotel insiders say this has already worsened the stench in the garbage room.

But most troubling are revelations that one of the hotel’s cooks has been assigned the duty of cleaning up the garbage room while he still remains a working cook for clients of the restaurant.

Waiters of the restaurant have also been assigned the duty of cleaning and hovering their working stations.

Meantime, staff have hinted this paper that the decision by Mr. Frère to implement what they describe as racist directives which has seen the hotel banning regular parties by middle to upper class Ghanaian parents to celebrate birthdays of their children at the hotel has had negative impact on the hotel’s finances.

A Novotel internal memo dated last month, April 26, from the Sales Manager Mrs. Gloria Asare, to the Mr. Frère and seen by this paper over the weekend stated that “… kids’ parties which contributed to the revenue of the hotel have been stopped.”

The memo noted further that “many clients have expressed their disappointment at this new development as among all the hotels Novotel was considered children friendly.”

Another negative impact on the hotel has been the withdrawal of the significant number of Ghanaian clients who used to troop to Novotel on weekends to use the hotel’s swimming pool which had hitherto been opened to the public to walk-in, pay and swim anytime.

The ban, placed on these Ghanaian clients were based on the excuse that the GM and his wife swim in the pool and need to have their privacy when doing so.

Incidentally, though the ban was placed on all non-residents of the hotel, affecting all Ghanaian non-residents who use to troop to the hotel in their numbers on weekends to pay and swim, the pool, staff say, has remained open to non-resident white friends of the GM who still come in to use the hotel’s facility without even paying.

At the time of the directive, staff were told to inform inquisitive Ghanaian clients seeking to find the rationale for the directives that swimming at the Hotel’s pool is now based on an UD$800 annual registration fee.

This meant they would have to fork out $800 (about GHC 1,520) per annum per person to use the pool.

This decision is said to have now left the hotel almost dead on weekends, with the clients turning to the swanky Movenpick nearby, where they can walk in, pay and swim anytime.

The April 26 memo from the Sales Manager to the GM also noted that “since access to our poolside is now limited to only in-house guests prohibiting outside guests from enjoying the hotel’s recreational facilities, those who would want their colleagues or friends to relax together with them by using the pool have all been cut off and this also has led them to book other hotels, especially Movenpick Hotel, so they can all patronize their pool instead.”

“In effect the hotel is extremely dead at weekends” the memo noted.

Some leaders of the Hotel Staff Union told this paper on condition of secrecy that both the GM and the Food and Beverage Manager use swear words very often on staff.

They noted that the GM informed the junior staff at a union meeting earlier this month (May 10) that he did not give a hoot about their (workers) feelings and indicated that they have been somehow cowed into submission over fears being made scapegoats and have therefore resorted to keep silent over their complaints.

They hinted that contrary to the staff bargaining agreement the new GM together with the Human Resource Manager Ms Violetta Kumi, have decided to pay staff wages instead o salaries.