By Howard McGowan
In that time Joe established a warm working relationship with the staff at Couples, built around a 1990’s style of management that not only endeared him to members of his staff, but turned the Twenty (20) acres property into one of the true success stories of tourism.Sixteen (16) months ago Joe Issa arrived at Couples Resort from Grand Lido the jewel of the Super Clubs chain of Hotels.
On November 1, Joe took up the helm at Sans Souci Lido and when the bombshell was dropped at a meeting with the staff of Couples on Friday October 15, there were not many dry eyes in the room.
“It is my belief” says Joe, in an exclusive interview, a smile creasing his boyishly handsome face, “that if you as a manager look out for your workers then naturally, they will look out for you”.
With this in his mind, Joe erected a staff canteen equipped with a gym area, a Pool Table and games machines as well as two drinks machines, at a cost of five hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00).
This according to Joe has paid for itself many times over, due mainly to the attitude of workers; in fact, Couples is enjoying the best years of its operational life.
A firm believer in entertainment which he hopes to maintain in his new job, Joe had in his budget some $250,000 monthly for entertainment for Couples.
This includes a resident band and top flight cabaret acts including Karen Smith, Nicky O.J. Gem Myers and the like.
From a tourism related family Joe attended Campion College where he graduated with honours and was awarded the Head Masters Cup for being the best all-round student for the scholastic ability, participation in extracurricular activities and leadership in the College.
Joe then attended the College of Holy Cross from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree Cum Laude with honours in June 1988. He majored in Economics and finished first in his Accounting class. Added to this Joe made the Dean’s List each of the four (4) years he was at college.
Between 1985 and when he took up his post at Grand Lido, Joe worked at a number of Hotel properties, firstly in Italy, London and Jamaica, including a stint at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
When he was appointed at Couples, he saw what needed to be done, and proceeded to whip the property into shape in short order. Moral of the staff soared; the volume of repeat guests increased, and the hotel was on a high.
The staff out-did themselves in the area of sports winning a number of cups and trophies in cricket and football. Not to be outdone the chefs and the bartenders also came out on top under various competitions.
As he settles into his new assignment, Joe is aware that his success and reputation has preceded him and will make things just that difficult for him to maintain. However, he shrugs his shoulders, and says “I love a good challenge, when I am not busy, I am bored”. If he is given the sort of free reign that he has enjoyed at Couples, then success at his new assignment should be a forgone conclusion.
Loved by his staff and guests alike, his tremendous success at Couples, might be his worst enemy as his performance at the new property will be stacked up against that at Couples. Joe however remains undaunted.
One thing is certain however and that is Joe might well become the Pied Piper as word that a number of staff members have openly stated that where he goes they will follow.