John Jefferis Celebrates 50 Years In Hospitality

May 19, 2015

Jefferis FamilyJohn Jefferis — the owner of Coco Reef – Bermuda and a number of other businesses in the Caribbean region — is celebrating his 50th anniversary in the hospitality industry.

He started his career as a 15-year-old pot washer at a fish and chip restaurant in London. Today, he is the Chairman and sole shareholder of the Palm Reef Hotel Development Company Limited, Coco Reef Resorts Ltd and Island Resorts International Ltd. He is also the Chairman of Inflite Catering, which is an airline catering company with operations in both Bermuda and Tobago.

Jefferis studied at Birmingham University where he was awarded the Hotel and Catering Institute’s National Award for the 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 appointed 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.

Jefferis then 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 ideas.

Jefferis was also the owner of Edgehill Manor, Roxy’s Night Club and the Palm Reef Hotel, all of which he later sold. He was the major shareholder in the Haley Corporation, which was for many years, Bermuda’s largest Tour Operator and provider of tourists.

Jefferis, a past President of the Bermuda Hotel Association, was the driving force behind Bermuda joining the Caribbean Hotel Association, and went on to become President of the Caribbean Hotel Association from 1996-1998 and Chairman from 1998 – 2000.

Whilst President of the Caribbean Hotel Association, Jefferis was the originator of the Crystal Palm Awards, a gala dinner event held annually in London. The Crystal Palm Awards were designed to recognise and reward excellence in the field of Caribbean tourism support in the UK and Europe, by tour operators, airlines, journalists and individuals.

Also, whilst President of the Caribbean Hotel Association, he was the innovator and Chairman of the first Caribbean Hotel Association Investment Conference, an event that continues to be held to this day, and in 1992 Jefferis commenced the financing, design and construction of the $72 million Coco Reef – Tobago .

In 2003, Jefferis acquired the lease for the Stonington Beach Hotel in Paget. After spending $14.3 million in additions, reconstruction, renovation and refurbishment, it was reopened as Coco Reef – Bermuda in 2004.

The reconstruction and renovation of the property included the construction of a forty foot high, award-winning atrium lobby, a new terrace restaurant, new swimming pool terraces, a French baroque style private dining room, antique furniture, custom designed bedroom furniture, original paintings, extensive landscaping, including the planting of 17 mature coconut palms, a new porte cochere and the construction of an additional new 200-metre elevated private beach.

Jefferis has won  awards including: Bermuda Hotel Association’s First “Bermuda Hotelier of the Year” in 1989, Caribbean Hotel Association’s “Caribbean Hotelier of the Year” in 1991, Caribbean World’s “Lifetime Achievement Award in Tourism and Travel” in 2008 and Ernst and Young’s “Caribbean Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2000.

Reflecting on the past 50 years, Jefferis said: “Hotels are my first love and passion. I have enjoyed almost every minute of being in the hotel and associated businesses for the past fifty years. I have been really fortunate to have worked with some amazingly talented people over the years. People who have shared my passion and affection for the hotel business.

“I fell in love with Bermuda when I first arrived on the island and I am delighted to have used my knowledge and vision to make a small contribution to the tourism industry of this beautiful Island.”

Currently, Jefferis has a number of projects that he is working on including the construction of a Caribbean Fine Art Gallery Tapas and Wine bar in Paget, a 46-unit condominium and villa development at Coco Reef – Bermuda, the addition of nine luxury villas at Coco Reef -Tobago and the acquisition of another hotel in the Caribbean.

Mr Jefferis is pictured above with his wife and youngest child, three-year-old Johnny Jr.

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  1. Rockfish#1 and #2 says:

    Don’t forget the South Shore deal he made with a former Tourism Minister….