Ghana’s First Ghanaian MD of Labadi Beach Hotel reflects on pioneering role

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It’s been nearly a year since David Eduaful took the helm as the first Ghanaian Managing Director of Ghana’s premier five-star hospitality facility, Labadi Beach Hotel, and in an intimate conversation with Kojo Bentum-Williams for the VA Tourism Podcast, Eduaful shares his insights and the ambitious vision he holds for the future.

With over three decades of experience working at Labadi Beach Hotel, Eduaful’s rise to the uppermost managerial position was somewhat inevitable. In his own words, the role isn’t entirely new for him. He has a background as a hotel manager, and prior to being confirmed as the substantive MD, he had being serving in an acting capacity for six months where he was responsible for day-to-day operations. The significant change is that he now reports directly to a Board of Directors rather than a Managing Director.

Despite the shift in hierarchy, his core responsibilities, particularly in terms of operations, remain largely consistent. However, the role demands a more strategic approach, envisioning how to propel the hotel’s growth and success. Eduaful stated, “I was the one running the show in terms of operations, so it’s not so different from what I used to do, and I am enjoying it. Now I report directly to a Board of Directors, previously I used to report to a Managing Director, so that is the change in terms of the hierarchy. But in terms of my duties, the operational side is still the same, but now I am a strategic thinker, thinking through how to grow the hotel and things like that.”

Labadi Beach Hotel

The fact that Eduaful is the first Ghanaian to manage a five-star hotel in the country doesn’t weigh him down. He embraces this historic responsibility as an opportunity to inspire fellow Ghanaians and demonstrate that they are capable of achieving such feats. His primary focus is to set a benchmark for excellence and prove that Ghanaians can excel in leadership positions within the hospitality industry. Eduaful maintained, “For my fellow Ghanaians to know that it is doable and we believe in ourselves because being the first Ghanaian Manager of a five-star hotel is a testament that we can do it.”

Eduaful emphasizes the importance of maintaining a balance between technology and human interaction in the hotel industry. While technology plays a pivotal role in modernizing services, he asserts that the human factor remains crucial. Labadi Beach Hotel prides itself on a well-trained and dedicated staff, providing top-notch service. Eduaful’s confidence in the culinary excellence of the hotel’s kitchen is evident, stating that once you’ve dined at the Labadi Beach Hotel, you’ll find it difficult to dine elsewhere. He stated, “No matter how technologically advanced you are, the human factor is always crucial because we are dealing with human beings.”

One of the standout accomplishments of the hotel under Eduaful’s leadership is its capacity to cater to large events. Notably, they successfully served over 3,700 dishes each day in June this year during the Afrexim Bank Meetings in Ghana, demonstrating their ability to handle large-scale events.

Labadi Beach Hotel is fiercely committed to both local and global recognition, positioning itself as a “proudly local and fiercely global brand.”

Continuous investment in staff training, including local and international exchanges and collaborations with recognized training bodies, is central to their strategy. Eduaful acknowledges that well-trained staff are essential to the hotel’s success. He stated, “If you don’t invest in your staff, they’d crash the business…if something happens to the guests because the staff is not well-trained, it comes back to haunt me.”

Environmental sustainability is also a priority for Labadi Beach Hotel. They have implemented measures such as recycling wastewater for garden irrigation and are actively seeking alternatives to single-use plastics. Energy conservation measures, especially in guest rooms, are challenging due to the hotel’s oceanfront location but are being implemented in other areas of the establishment.

As the year draws to a close, Eduaful anticipates a bustling fourth quarter, partly attributed to the government’s “December in GH” tourism campaign. Labadi Beach Hotel has an array of activities lined up, including the celebration of Oktoberfest, the lighting of the Christmas tree, Christmas Day lunch, New Year’s festivities, and the popular Christmas Eve Dinner Dance. These events promise to make the end of the year a memorable experience for visitors and locals alike.

Eduaful concludes with a call for the establishment of a world-class hospitality school in Ghana, emphasising the importance of technical skills in service delivery. He believes that by creating a practical and comprehensive training program, Ghana can further enhance its reputation as a hospitable and world-class tourist destination.
He noted, “I’d love stakeholders to start thinking through this so that we will have a proper world-class hotel school where practicals would be infused, and the students come out already cooked, and they understand the business.”

Story by Samuel Obeng Appah

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