Wednesday | August 1, 2001

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Heinz Simonitsch ­ Man with the magic touch

FIND OUT how Heinz Simonitsch, managing director at Half Moon Hotel, moved the property from a position of non-profitable to profitable in less than a year. Log on to this week's personality profile page of Here's a preview;

"For the past 38 years, Heinz Simonitsch has run Half Moon as Jamaica's pricey picturesque upscale resort. Simonitsch came to Montego Bay in 1963 from the Elbow Beach Surf Club in Bermuda, where he was Food and Beverage Manager after Sir Howard Trott, a wealthy Englishman and a shareholder in Half Moon Hotel had asked him to take a look. Simonitsch really had no intention of taking on the position he now holds or of settling down here.

"I got the phone call from New York in June 1963 to come down for four days," recalls Simonitsch. "On July 17, 1963, I arrived in Jamaica for one year." What was to have been one year turned into 38 years, as he became quite consumed with the challenge of making a success of Half Moon. Under his leadership, the hotel's balance sheet shifted from the deficit to the surplus position in less than a year. In 1965, he increased the number of hotel rooms from 30 to 60; the ten privately run cottages on the Half Moon Bay and the seven cottages to the east of the hotel building became known as Half Moon Cottage Colony. Gradually over a number of years the cottage colony was absorbed by the hotel and the name was changed to The Half Moon Club.

Today, Half Moon is one of the top six Elegant Resorts of Jamaica, it is rated as one of the finest resorts in the Caribbean and, indeed is recognised as one of the twenty-five best beach resorts in the world.

How did he do it? Simonitsch explains that he "put sensible operational decisions in place." Prior to his coming, the property was operated like a private club, "opening only in the winter season and closing in the summers." An inventory system, a sales office, and the decision to open all year round were just some of the changes, which helped to turn the hotel around in less than a year."

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