Coco Reef owner John Jefferis named Premier Hotelier
HAMILTON, Bermuda — Bermudian hotelier and developer John Jefferis has been voted the “Premier Hotelier” by the International Caribbean World Awards for his exceptional contribution to the travel and tourism industry throughout the Caribbean. Other previous recipients of the award were Butch Stewart from Jamaica and Professor Kevin Morley from Barbados.
In its 22nd year, the International Caribbean World Awards are known as the “Oscars of the Caribbean”. Recognising excellence in travel, tourism and hospitality throughout the Caribbean region, the awards are voted on by the readers of the award-winning Caribbean World Magazine.
Jefferis, who developed and owns the Coco Reef property in Tobago, said: “I am exceedingly honoured to have been voted the Premier Hotelier of the Year at the International Caribbean World Awards. I am living my dream of developing and owning hotels in the Caribbean. My success is due in part to the incredible team at Coco Reef – Tobago, whose professionalism, hospitality and efficiency have ensured that guests from all over the world have the time of their lives when they stay with us.”
Jefferis has won countless accolades and awards throughout his career, 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; EY’s “Caribbean Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2000; Caribbean World’s “Lifetime Achievement Award in Tourism and Travel” in 2008; and International Caribbean Life’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2014.
In 2015, Jefferis celebrated 50 years in the hospitality industry and was inducted by the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association into the Tourism Hall of Fame – one of only two people to be inducted. For the past 13 years, Jefferis’ Coco Reef – Tobago resort has won the World Travel Award for the Caribbean’s Leading Hotel.
Jefferis is a past president of the Bermuda Hotel Association and a past member of the Bermuda government’s Tourism Board and Marketing Committee. He was the driving force behind Bermuda joining the Caribbean Hotel Association. He went on to become president of the Caribbean Hotel Association from 1996-1998 and chairman from 1998 – 2000.
In 2011, Jefferis was appointed deputy chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Board. He was also chairman of the Bermuda Tourism Board’s Gaming Committee, which focused on the positive aspects of gaming and the concept of legalising gaming in Bermuda. In 1991 Jefferis was the founder and the first president/bailli of the Bermuda Chapter of the Chaîne de Rôttiseurs, the world’s most prestigious gourmet society.
A graduate of Birmingham University, Jefferis started his career as a 15-year-old pot washer at a fish and chip restaurant in London. Whilst studying in the United Kingdom, he was awarded the Hotel and Catering Institute’s National Award for the country’s “Top Final Year Management Student”.
As a result of the award he was able to secure an internship at the Savoy Hotel in London. He then moved to Bermuda where he was employed as junior assistant manager at the Belmont Hotel. He was subsequently promoted to general manager at the Belmont and was the youngest person ever to hold that post.
Subsequently, Jefferis became managing director of the Elbow Beach Hotel and Development Company and a member of the board of directors. During his tenure at Elbow Beach, he instituted a number of new concepts. These included the installation of the first international toll free reservation lines direct to the island in 1984, the production of a much celebrated Elbow Beach promotional film and the first sub-leasing of a hotel restaurant to a celebrity chef.
Whilst at Elbow Beach, Jefferis instituted the idea of adding a resort levy to the guest’s bill. This idea was subsequently copied by many other hotels in Bermuda. Over the years, the resort levy has provided participating hotels with millions of dollars in much needed net revenue.
Jefferis commenced the design, financing and construction of Coco Reef – Tobago in 1993. The resort, which opened in January of 1996, features 140 rooms, suites and villas, with beautiful views of its own private white sand beach, 10 acres of beautifully manicured tropical gardens and arguably the Caribbean’s most attractive driveway. His design of the resort is based on the incorporation of the interior design features of a number of the Caribbean’s more attractive resorts and Trinidad and Tobago’s unique architecture.
This year, 2016, is Coco Reef – Tobago’s 20th anniversary. The exquisite $2,500 per night Sunset Villa with its marble bathrooms and 24 karat gold fittings has been frequented by many celebrities such as: Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, Sting and many more celebrities who the resort will not name.
Following on the success of Coco Reef – Tobago, Jefferis opened Coco Reef – Bermuda in 2004. The resort is situated on a spectacular beachfront location and features an outstanding award-winning atrium lobby and restaurants with gorgeous ocean views as well as an exclusive private dining room.