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|Nettie Symonette: Eleutheran Hotelier Carves Out Niche|
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|Posted by:||Feb 27th 2007, 09:50:41 pm|
|speech||Congratulations Miss nettie symonette, you are a role model to all bahamians in the truest sense of the world, we too often take the position of victims in our our country your stratgey has overcome this in an honest and true true Bahamian way|
|Posted by:||Feb 27th 2007, 08:44:26 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||Bahamian hotelier carves out niche
By KEESHA BETHELL, Guardian Business Reporter
With resorts springing up, stiff competition in the hotel industry means "only the strong survive," said one Bahamian who has spent the past 30 years doing just that.
Nettie Symonette understands the hard work needed to have a successful hotel.
Working up to 18 hours per day, she isn't your average 72-year-old grandmother.
Unlike others in her age bracket, Symonette isn't quite ready to retire and stay at home taking care of the grandchildren.
With two successful businesses, Casuarinas of Cable Beach and Nettie's Bonefishing Lodge in Abaco, one could assume that the businesswoman is finished. But she's not done quite yet.
With its unique Junkanoo colors, Casuarinas, located on the Cable Beach strip, is just a few seconds away from the West Ridge Shopping Plaza and has been a fixture since its doors opened in 1977.
The vibrant businesswoman is hard at work creating yet another attraction sure to keep Casuarinas on the map.
"We are no longer a standalone set of rooms," she said. "We are now a cultural heritage area - that is going to make a difference.
"Right now I am working on a project. It's something they don't have anywhere in this country,"
Her Bahamian cultural museum, which she began working on in November of last year, brings "some recollections" of her childhood in Rock Sound, Eleuthera to life.
The museum, to be located within the hotel on Cable Beach, is a way of expressing the country's collective heritage and at the same time differentiating the property from the competition.
It aims to be an authentic slice of a bygone Bahamian life - flour sac clothing, antique sewing machines and even a corn mill are among other relics on display. There is also a display of various bush medicines and a replica of a room lit with an oil lamp, its floors made of rough timber and doorways covered with cloth.
In the backyard is a tribute to all-age schools and the days when food was dried on outdoor clothes lines.
"Everyday there is inspiration," she said. "It's like God shows me something every moment."
It's all set to transform her hotel to something more. But she is ever mindful of her original mandate.
It's all about differentiating Casuarinas from an increasingly splashy, high-end competition.
Baha Mar's $2.3 billion re-development of Cable Beach is only set to up the ante. Symonette's not worried though.
"We have never paid a dime for advertising," she said.
The success of the business after all these years has been driven by word of mouth.
It was through that word of mouth Symonette's businesses have been featured in various publications like Florida Sportsman Magazine.
In fact Casuarinas depends on personal recommendations from its guests to keep occupancy rates high.
Although feedback from some tourists posting online hasn't always been glowing.
Like all small businesses on the strip, Symonette has to make sure that concerns get addressed and customers come back.
The museum should help as well as the woman's vigor.
Even at the age of 72, she opts to have two bottles of Guiness a day as an Iron supplement.
"It's not easy", she said. "Strength and determination and believing in what you are doing regardless to what happens - you still stick in there."
The museum is slated to open some time in March.
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