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Hotseat - Karl Bourne

836_hotseatAn unparalleled passion for hospitality and service to people is the foundation on which Pisces born Karl Bourne has built his career in the hospitality industry. He has served at the Ritz Carton, Sandals and Beaches, Hilton Walt Disney World Village, El Conquistador Resort and Country Club, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Wyndham Resorts International and Danfine Corporation. Bourne is a graduate of Penn University and holds a Professional Master Degree from Global University for Lifelong Learning. He credits his leadership style to the strong and positive influences of his former bosses Lenny Siedel (Ritz Carlton) and Andre Dhanpaul (Sandals and Beaches Resorts). Bourne gives insight into his life and his job in this week's Hot Seat.

Who is Karl Bourne?

I am a very humble, down to earth and God-fearing human being with a passion for giving, sharing and believing that integrity and reputation are everything.

How would you describe yourself?

Passionate about life, giving and sharing experiences with everyone I come into contact with.


I was born in Barbados and moved to the USVI at age seven with my parents. After junior high, I moved to Manhattan, New York, to begin high school. I studied hospitality management in the USA. I always had a passion for hospitality from a young age and wanted to become an Executive Chef.

How did you end up at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Hotel?

I am currently working at Sonesta Great Bay for the past three years. I ended up there to work with a colleague who had the vision to make the Sonestas in St. Maarten the number one Caribbean resorts and I wanted to be part of that success story. As General Manager, I oversee all the resort operations with a total of 190 employees.

What's your approach to motivating your team members?

I am persistent and relentless in achieving organisational goals and leading by example in motivating team members.

What would you say has been your contributions to the resort over the years?

My contributions to the resort over the past three years have been to continuously build an environment where all employees would see the value of working for a hotel that cares and values the contribution of each and every employee on a daily basis and helping to extend our season beyond April annually through our continuous training and development of all.

What differentiates you from other General Managers in the field?

I am passionate about hospitality and I exhibit it on a daily basis. I live by the motto: My smile is my logo, my personality is my business card; how I want people to feel after an encounter with me has become my trademark.

Sonesta Great Bay has picked up several awards in recent months. To what do you credit these awards and in particular the latest award for exceptional employee engagement?

I credit the five awards we picked up in 2014 to the continuous training and development of staff including the ability of all to be flexible and believe in change, if we can work as a team, the value of success far outweighs the negatives. And as far as the exceptional employee engagement award goes, it could not have happened without all that is mentioned above.

What do you and your team plan to do to keep this honour in future years?

My plan is to continue on the continuous development of all employees including a pathway for succession planning in all areas, with a big emphasis on monthly employee recognition awards. We have implemented a programme at the resort with GULL University for lifelong learning that is focussed on action learning on the job that motivates and builds morale between individuals and departments. We just graduated a batch of seven managers with Bachelor's degrees and will start training our supervisors next down to our line staff with certifications.

Future plans?

To continuously focus on employee and guest engagement including training and development. Happy employees deliver happy guests and the results are creating a win-win scenario for all.


Basketball, fishing and travelling.

Biggest fear?

Not succeeding. This puts enormous pressure on me to be the best at everything I do.

What is your favourite type of music? What artistes do you listen to?

R&B, R. Kelly, Eagles, Jonathan Butler and Rihanna.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be and what would you cook for them?

Singer Natalie Cole – I would cook her Italian food, seafood pasta side of roasted mixed vegetables; Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson – I would cook Creole snapper with fungi and side of okra and sautéed cabbage; US President Barack Obama – I would cook grilled lobster with peas and rice, with sautéed mixed vegetables.