One of the Caribbean’s most beloved hoteliers John Jefferis (JP) became on of only two people to ever be inducted into the Tourism Hotel of Fame for 2015 by the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurant and Tourism Assn. Eturbonews brought the announcement to light today, Oct. 12, supplying such background as that Jefferies is the owner of Coco Reef – Bermuda, Coco Reef – Tobago and a number of other businesses in the Caribbean region, including Cuba. He started his career as a 15-year-old pot washer at a fish and chip restaurant in London. He is currently chairman and sole shareholder of the Palm Reef Hotel Development Company Limited, Coco Reef Resorts Ltd, the Caribbean Construction Company, Island Resorts International Ltd and Inflite Catering, an airline catering company with operations in both Bermuda and Tobago.
The association credited Jefferis, a past President and Chairman of the Bermuda Hotel Association, as the driving force behind Bermuda joining the Caribbean Hotel Association. He held many titles in the islands such as president of the Caribbean Hotel Association from 1996 to 1998 and chairman from 1998 until 2000. While heading the organization Jefferis visited nearly all of the Caribbean Association member Islands making speeches that always included his mantra, “Without a vibrant and profitable hotel industry a country can never have a successful tourism industry.”
“We are proud to recognize John Jefferis’ 50 years of substantial and sustained contribution to leadership, service and success in the Trinidad and Tobago hospitality and tourism industry,” said Andrew Welch, president, Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association. “The Award Judging Committee acknowledges John’s contribution to the growth of Trinidad and Tobago’s hospitality and tourism sector through innovation and astute business practices. Jefferis has left a positive lasting legacy within his organization, as well as with the people with whom he has worked. Coco Reef Resorts has significantly contributed to the improvement and the recognition of Tobago as a tourism destination.”
Jefferis other holdings include Edgehill Manor, Roxy’s Night Club and the Palm Reef Hotel, all of which he later sold. He was the major shareholder in the Haley Corporation, which was for many years, Bermuda’s largest tour operator and source of tourists. He created the $82 million Coco Reef-Tobago in 1992 and was known a statement made during staff orientation meetings that said “We are in the business of theatre. My job is to spend a lot of money to create a beautiful set for our guests. You are the actors and actresses, many of you will become stars. We must always remember that we are only as good as our customers’ perception of our last performance.” His philosophy on staff recruitment was made clear by the large sign over the General Manager’s office door: “Hire for Attitude – Train for Skills.” He made another pithy response to his induction into the Tourism Hall of Fame that went, “Having devoted my career to the hospitality and tourism industry, it is an honor to be inducted into the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association Hall of Fame. Creating new and memorable experiences and continually upgrading and redesigning my hotels for our guests is my passion and I am always humbled to be recognized for doing what I love most.”
Mr. Jefferis has won countless accolades and awards including: Bermuda Hotel Association’s first “Bermuda Hotelier of the Year” in 1989, The Caribbean Hotel Association’s “Caribbean Hotelier of the Year” in 1991, Ernst and Young’s “Caribbean Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2000 and Caribbean World’s “Lifetime Achievement Award in Tourism and Travel” in 2008. Most recently, in 2014, he was named International Caribbean Life’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.” In addition, Coco Reef – Tobago has won the World Travel Award for the “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel” for