"Coconut Court is my extended family"
Shontelle King may not be the first person guests see at Coconut Court, but all the staff know her – one of her jobs is to pay the wages.
The 38-year-old started in the gift shop in 2006 but within two years she’d moved into the accounts office.
“The transition wasn’t that difficult as I’d had some experience with accounting before,” she said.
While most of the training was on the job, she also attended night school to get her accounting certificate.
She discovered that being an accounts clerk involved far more than paying invoices and putting through payments.
Keen to learn new things
While guests may only see her fleetingly, she deals with Coconut Court’s suppliers. So in her hands lies the reputation of the hotel as a good and prompt payer of its bills.
“I try my best to make sure everything runs smoothly,” said Shontelle.
She’s keen to see the island from a guest’s point of view and is visiting the island’s attractions.
“I’ve been on the Atlantis submarine tour and I’m heading over to Bathsheba for breakfast one day soon. Harrison’s Cave is also on my list." She also want to learn new things.
Life has a way of changing plans…
She once harboured an ambition to teach. “I like keeping busy so I did an early childhood classroom management course. It was something to do in the evenings.
"That helped me understand my nieces and nephews. My first career choice was teaching, but life has a way of changing your plans.
“All the staff know me and I know all their names as I’m the person in charge of pay roll. I love the people at the hotel… this is my extended family.”
EVER SWUM IN AN AQUARIUM? WELL, NOW'S YOUR CHANCE!
Just a few metres off the beach, Coconut Court Beach Hotel has a small lagoon with 18 reef balls providing a sanctuary for fish.
A myriad of tiny fishes - and some big ones too - swim in and out of the structures which have been part of the hotel’s underwater architect since 2000.
They were installed just inside the breakwater by James and Mark Blades, members of the family which runs the south coast hotel.
Too fast for the camera
The tiny French angelfish, with its yellow stripes against a black body was camera shy and one of a kind, although it swam with a shoal of silvery jacks.
Unlike the inquisitive red fish with its big eyes. It was very interested in the tiny hand held camera.
Blue tang and silver jacks moved around in shoals. Others sought the safety and privacy inside the reef balls, occasionally glancing out to see what all the fuss was about.
The beautiful Sergeant Major with his tell-tale stripes was fairly common and easily identifiable.
And there was a large parrotfish which escaped the camera, moving too fast and unwilling to pose, but darting in and out of the reef balls and the breakwater. You may also see spotted eagle rays and turtles, especially the critically-endangered Hawksbill, for which Barbados has become famous.
There are some that still need to be identified… Just who is that red fellow with the bulging eyes?
Conservation in action
Fortunately there was no sign in the Coconut Court reef balls of the lionfish, the foreign predator which lunches on the reef fish of Barbados. Despite its poisonous spines, it has become a tasty snack on the island, so watch out for it at local restaurants.
While it’s a chance for guests to get off the sun lounger and explore the sea, the reef balls serve a greater purpose. Reef fish in Barbados are under threat so this is a great chance to see conservation in action.
So next time you visit Coconut Court Beach Hotel, don’t forget your mask and snorkel!
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