Villa Monticello is Accra’s premier luxury boutique hotel. It’s run by a team that comprises mainly women in leadership positions. One of them is Anita Ottenhof, she’s the Deputy General Manager at VM with nearly a decade’s worth of experience in the international hospitality and travel industries.
Like most other industries, hospitality and travel tend to be male-dominated. Villa Monticello stand out despite never setting out to hire only women. They’ve just found that the best talent aligned with their goal to bring a world-class luxury experience to Ghana are women. Nothing beats that!
Was it a conscious decision to have women in key leadership positions at Villa Monticello?
Although we have several men on our team that have worked with us since we’ve opened, most of the leadership roles happen to be held by women. The women on our team are also some of the top talent in the world!
Take for example our Executive Chef, Ruby Paintsil who has over 25 years’ experience at a number of prestigious companies in the UK, such as Sanctuary Spa, BBC Television Centre and Restaurant Associates a division of Compass UK. It is rare to see a woman as a head chef and in countries such as the US, there are reports that there are less female chefs than female CEOs.
We have never said, “We only want to hire women” but we look for the very best talent whose vision is aligned with our mission to be a leader in African hospitality and often for us that has happened to be a woman.
Was Accra ready for a luxury business when you launched Villa Monticello? How has Villa Monticello being received since launch?
The idea for VM came about through our desire to create an establishment that paralleled some of the international 5-star niche boutique hotels that we loved in cities around the world such as New York, Marrakesh, Johannesburg, and Provence where luxury and service were not mutually exclusive.
This sort of hospitality experience appeals to a very unique clientèle. Accra is a very cosmopolitan city and we believed that people who live in and travel here would appreciate our vision. It was a new concept in Accra but we have been very well received by guests and recognized by international hospitality industry vanguards such as World Travel Awards, Conde Nast Johanssens and Trip Advisor.Villa Monticello was the first to introduce the concept of intimate luxury hospitality to Accra Click To Tweet
How has Villa Monticello changed Ghana’s hospitality industry?
When we first launched in 2011, we were the first to introduce the concept of an intimate luxury world class experience in hospitality. Over the past few years, the luxury landscape has really begun to develop in Accra —in real estate, hospitality, retail, and dining. It’s still at early stage but we believe we have contributed to its growth.
Customer service is another concept that is still growing in Ghanaian business. Impeccable customer service is core to VM’s values. We strive to provide an unforgettable experience for our guests. We are beginning to see a more customer centred service being adopted by others in the hospitality industry and across sectors.
How has your “unsaid commitment to women” (mentioned here) translated in running your business?
Although we don’t discriminate based on sex in any way, we have attracted a very powerful core group of women leaders who share the same values, international outlook and passion for excellence.
The way we approach our customers is the same way we work together as a team. We are constantly meeting, reviewing feedback and making necessary adjustments as a team and as a business.We have attracted a very powerful core group of women leaders who share the same values Click To Tweet
Tell us more about The Lady initiative, why did Villa Monticello start this?
We understand that it can be challenging for many young women to get the opportunity or nurturing that they might need to excel. Working in collaboration with Ghanaian businesswoman Isobel Acquah, we launched The Lady in January as an empowerment initiative for young women aged 18 to 25.
Through the initiative, young women participate in practical foundational courses covering key topics such as wellness, confidence building, financial awareness, social and business etiquette, and personal grooming. The Lady, is an effort to impart to young women the ethos and values that have driven Villa Monticello to a leading position in the Ghanaian hospitality market.
At the end of the program (which ended last month), we granted internships to participants and to one promising young women at the university level, a scholarship to further pursue her education.
You offer a number of services including The Koncierge and Bespoke Weddings. How do you ensure that you maintain the same values and quality in everything that you do?
Our ultimate goal is to deliver exceptional service and provide an experience for our guests which is second to none. This outlook is applied to all aspects of the VM brand.
We are constantly striving to play a significant role in transforming the standards of the hospitality industry in Ghana and the role of women in the industry. We also want to have a positive impact on the next generation of African women business leaders.
What are three hidden treasures in Accra that visitors tend to miss?
- Chapter One Restaurant! Even if you don’t stay at VM, experiencing a meal at our fine dining restaurant is a must. The African fusion inspired menu combines flavors from Africa, Asia, India, and Europe using locally sourced ingredients. Enjoying a traditional tea, classic brunch or an exclusive bottle of wine from our Barrels Wine Club cellar can be a highlight for any visitor’s trip to Accra.
- Legon Botanical Gardens. There are very few green spaces in the city and this gem provides a necessary respite. Escape the hustle of the city for a picnic with friends. Or a simply a walk in the park to view the local flora, birds and butterflies. They have recently expanded to include an amazing play area for kids.
- Night Market in Osu. Several times a year, arts organization ArchiAfrika hosts a free all-night party in the streets of Osu. ArchiAfrika brings live music, lights, outdoor seating, and a great cross section of professionals, artists and local residents together. There attendees enjoy local food such as kenkey and grilled fish from vendors.
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