AC Hotel Kingston’s Andre Harris

by Sep 29, 2022People

Andre Harris’s passion for food led him to the tourism industry, and he hasn’t looked back. He’s been soaking up knowledge over the years and it’s prepared him well for his newest role as hotel manager at AC Hotel Kingston.

He stepped into his new role on September 1.

Andre Harris

“Over the years I was always like a sponge. I would always seek new knowledge — whether it be formal or informal. I’d always reach out to my mentors for guidance to push me in the direction that I need to go,” he tells the Jamaica Observer’s “I was being prepared over a period of time for this new role. Even my current General Manager Mr Koen Hietbrink, he’s been really mentoring and guiding me along this pathway.”

Harris will manage a team of 150.

Well aware that today’s tourism workers have evolved, he says he will adapt his leadership style to fit each situation. However, overall, he intends to be firm but fair.

“The culture has changed. The younger generation now is totally different so we have to understand them. These persons know that they have choices and, with their choices, they are more open to moving. No longer is somebody going to stay in one place for 20 years,” he says. “So you have to find ways to show them that you respect them, you respect their time, and you respect their knowledge so it all boils down to that — being adaptive. Forget that old-school management style of command and control. Be more open to listening and providing input, and be more of somebody that trusts and guides the team member.”

Harris outside the AC Hotel Kingston

He’s big on mentoring and guiding those who make up his team, just like he’s been mentored over the years. It’s one of the things he wants to be known for when he’s old and grey and looking back at the mark he’s left at the AC Hotel Kingston. It’s also one of the ways in which he will measure his effectiveness as hotel manager. It’s right up there with making sure the property is profitable.

“Team member retention, fostering and developing talent, and making sure that we achieve our top and bottom line results on a yearly basis, try to exceed all the targets put in place. It all boils down to how well the business does,” he says when asked what success will look like for him.

He knows there’s an excellent team in place that will ensure the AC Hotel Kingston continues to thrive.

“We have a great management team… giving great support to their team members. And our team members are the best… We have a young core — very energetic, very eager to learn, very supportive — and everybody here just wants to grow to the next level. And the environment that we create as well also fosters… that eagerness and earnestness on a daily basis,” he discloses.

Harris knows a thing or two about the importance of passion and drive. From the age of 10 he knew he wanted to be in the kitchen. He made the strategic decision to skip upper sixth form at St George’s College to enrol in a tourism associate degree programme at Excelsior Community College. He later transferred to UTech where he did the UTech/UWI joint hotel and resort management degree programme.

While studying, internships abroad widened his initial focus on food to include the entire tourism sector.

“I interned at Universal Studios in Orlando as a line cook, and also at Adams Mark Hotel in Buffalo doing different positions in food and beverage. That really developed and honed the passion to want to be within the tourism industry,” he explains.

Harris’s first tourism job was at Sandals Montego Bay in 2010. He began as a food and beverage (F&B) management trainee. But he wasn’t in that position for long. Within 18 months he was promoted to the post of assistant F&B manager, and he continued to excel. In 2012 he was named Manager of the Year.

His hard work was again rewarded in November 2013 when he was made the F&B manager at Sandals Barbados. His upward movement continued in 2014 when he returned to Jamaica as F&B director. He was responsible for pleasing guests’ palates at several resorts, including Beaches Ocho Rios and Sandals Royal Plantation.

Though all his previous experience was on the leisure side of the industry, in April 2019 Harris jumped at the chance to join the team at the soon-to-be opened AC Hotel Kingston, one of the premier properties in Jamaica’s business hotel sector. He began as the F&B manager and by June 1, 16 days before the hotel officially opened its doors, he began acting in the role of hotel manager.

Now, it’s official. 


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