Earnie Smith — a true hospitality gem

Earnie Smith — a true hospitality gem

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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WHITEHOUSE, Westmoreland — There is a kind of magic that happens when we trust the timing of our lives and allow our passions to lead us. Without a doubt, these are philosophies by which Sandals South Coast 2018 Diamond Team Member, Earnie Smith lives.

Actually, the 44-year-old, father of two, who currently works as a junior butler at Sandals South Coast's exclusive over-water bungalows, never set out to work in the hospitality industry.

“My mother was a farmer,” said Smith, who hails from the rural community of Bog in Westmoreland. “I wanted to follow in her footsteps so when I left school I went into farming, but when hurricane Ivan came and 'mash up mi ground', I decided to try my hand at something else.”

Smith said he heard about training for security guards in Negril. He attended the training and became certified, and his first assignment was at Sandals South Coast (then Sandals Whitehouse).

He had been working as a security guard at the resort during its construction, and when its first guests started to arrive he was excited to welcome them to the resort. “Even as a security guard at the main gate I had this immense sense of pride. I knew that Sandals was going to change the face of the south coast for the better and I already felt I was a part of that legacy in some way,” said Smith.

Growing up in a home with seven siblings, he learned social and people skills from an early age. Though they were not well-off, Smith said his mother taught he and his siblings to always project a positive image and take pride in their appearance. These values transferred to a young security guard who was good-natured, kind and very professional — Perhaps all the traits that [then] Security Manager Fearon Beckford needed in a lobby security guard.

“I became the first lobby security guard at Sandals South Coast,” said Smith proudly.

The lobby was where he found his passion for hospitality. “I did everything — from welcoming guests, helping to sort bags, to serving welcome cocktails.” So much so that he eventually got nicknamed the lobby security bellman.

When he made the transition from lobby security guard to Sandals bellman in 2006 it really didn't come as a surprise to anyone. “In my mind, I was already a Sandals ambassador,” said Smith. “When I came to the lobby to work, I knew hospitality was what I was born to do — the name badge and uniform only made it official.”

In the 12 years that followed, Smith immersed himself in the Sandals experience — working closely with the Environment, Health and Safety Department as an award-winning EHS guardian, volunteering his time with the Sandals Foundation, and even representing his resort in track and field at various sporting events.

“It has been one amazing ride,” said Smith, and if the shrine of Sandals awards and certificates of achievement hanging on his wall is anything to go by, it's safe to say that his high standard of excellence and the value that he brings to Sandals South Coast has not gone unnoticed.

“Just over a year prior to my most recent move, I started yearning for an opportunity to do more, Smith admitted. He noted that while being at the front of the house allowed him to make that first great impression, he felt he could do more in a personalised role like butler services.

They say it is never too late to reinvent yourself, and Smith embraced that concept when he enrolled in the butler training programme in early 2018 and emerged in December of that year as a certified junior butler.

The newly minted butler said his children are his greatest motivators, and almost everyday he actually gets to see one of his two children, Tavoy. With some obvious prodding from his father, Tavoy, a graduate of Munroe College, joined the Sandals South Coast team as a Club Sandals agent in 2018.

As Smith settles into his new roles as junior butler, Sandals South Coast Diamond Team Member of the Year, and Ultimate Award Nominee, he confessed he still gets a little overwhelmed by all the love and adoration from his colleagues, who also voted him People's Choice winner for 2018.

“While being awarded the Diamond Team Member of the Year signifies that my managers see my worth to the resort and the organisation, being recognised by my peers by way of the People's Choice award is, for me, the ultimate honour.”

“I never set out to win an award,” he said. “I only wanted to teach my children the lessons that Sandals has taught me — to dream big and go for what you want with all you have. But I'm happy for the award and from this vantage point, those are lessons I can also share with my entire team.”

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