Wie ein Phönix aus der Asche
White Horse Residence Boutique Hotel - like a phoenix from the ashes
When Dieter and Haddy Amgwerd held the key to the “White Horse Residence Boutique Hotel” in their hands 3 years ago a dream came true. For a long time, the Swiss-Gambian couple had been looking for an opportunity to open a small hotel business in “The Gambia”, Haddy Amgwerd’s home country. The tiny nation on the west coast of Africa with its long sandy beaches is a popular vacation destination for European Tourists, particularly from the British Isles. It’s mostly mass tourism in large hotel complexes, so the Amgwerd couple had a hard time finding an attractive property that was outside the large and noisy tourist centres, but still easily accessible by foreign guests. The White Horse, a small guesthouse newly built in 2014 offering 12 rooms, a beautiful garden and a pool site with a spectacular view onto the Atlantic Ocean therefore seemed to be real stroke of luck.
Unfortunately, the joy of the new ownership was soon replaced by a series of challenges. In late 2019, Thomas Cook, the travel company that brought 60 percent of travellers to The Gambia, was forced to declare bankruptcy. The Covid-19 crisis followed, bringing tourism in the country to a virtual standstill until end of 2021. A disaster for the inhabitants, many lost their jobs, a large number of hotels, restaurants and other service providers in the tourism sector had to shut down. The White Horse Residence also had to close its doors in February 2020 and did not reopen until December 2021 with a few bookings. But instead of a new beginning, the next shock followed: On New Year's Eve 2021, a fire broke out in the straw-covered attic of the main building and burned it to the ground. The entrance hall, the office, the kitchen, toilets and two rooms were completely destroyed. After the initial shock, the Amgwerd couple decided to turn the disaster into a new opportunity and "build back better". With the help of a loan from the SECO Start-up Fund, the entrepreneurs will rebuild the main house with an additional floor, gaining four more rooms. This will increase the hotel's capacity by 50 percent.