Cayuga Week 2013: Hotel and Eco Lodge Staff meet in San Jose, Costa Rica

November 13, 2013

At Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, we believe that training, motivation and teamwork are key factors to great hotel operations.   It does not matter if you run a city hotel, a beach resort or an ecolodge or eco resort.   Training and investing in people is key.

This is why we bring our managers, coordinators and team leaders to San Jose once a year.   We get together to learn new things, share experiences and have fun.   Between May and September, we brought almost 80 staff members up to San Jose.   From as far as Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Nicaragua to Lapa Rios Eco Lodge on the Osa Peninsula.   It was the first time that employees from Kura Design Villas in Uvita participated.

For many of our staff members from the rural areas of Costa Rica, this was one of the few times that they had come to the capital city of San Jose.   A great experience for them was to be able to stay at our Cayuga Collection Sister Hotel Grano de Oro. They were pampered by the great hotel staff there and enjoyed the great food in the restaurant.   We were not able to accommodate all the staff at the Grano de Oro so our friends from the Intercontinental in Escazu helped us out as well.

Some of the staff from the hotels located in Guanacaste (the Harmony Hotel in Guiones and Latitude 10 Resort in Santa Teresa) stayed at Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn and really enjoyed the coffee tour and learning about all the sustainable practices at this hotel that forms part of the Collection.

The trainings were focused on management styles and practices as well as visits to companies that we consider benchmarks in different industries and from whom we could learn.   We learned about total quality at the local Toyota Dealership, visited our top travel agent, wellness treatment centers and chain restaurants where we could learn about systemization.   We also received a back of the house tour of big city hotels which was an interesting experience for our housekeeping and maintenance crews.

During the events we found that strong bonds were made between managers and coordinators and that many solutions were found right on the spot. We also found later that communications between the hotels and eco lodges have increased significantly.   The comments we received from the participants after they got back to their hotels were heartwarming and very encouraging for us.

Restaurant Coordinator Diamanda from Jicaro, NicaraguaOne comment stood out in particular. The one from Diamada who is the restaurant coordinator at Jicaro Island Ecolodge in Nicaragua.   ” This was an incredible and unique experience for me.   Not only because I learned so much and met all the great colleagues from the other Cayuga Hotels and Lodges; but it was the first time in my life that I had the chance to leave my country (Nicaragua)”.

We are already planning Cayuga week 2014.   Stay tuned.

Top 5 Reasons why it is great to work in the Hospitality Industry

October 31, 2013

According to the Trends & Statistics survey by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), around 2 million people now work in the industry. The chances are, if you”™re reading this, you”™re one of them.   Working in hotels, resorts and lodges is not for everybody though.   I hear from a lot of people that come full of illusions but then get worn out by long and tiring shifts.   But the ones that stick to it have or develop a passion for it and they would be miserable at a regular desk job.   Here are some of the Top 5 reasons why it is so great to work in the hospitality industry.

Hospitality Managers

  1. You make a difference in people”™s lives as the business is all about people.   No matter if you are driving a golf cart, cleaning rooms, carrying suitcases or if you are involved in management ““ you are in a position to make somebody”™s day.   A smile, a helping hand, that little detail.   It is all about making people happy.   That goes far beyond the satisfaction that you can get out of a spreadsheet.
  2. It is a ” global” industry and as almost every country in the world has a hospitality industry, it is possible to discover new countries, new culture and new people.   And even if you don”™t plan to work abroad, you are most likely in touch with travelers from all over the world and through the interaction with the guests learn new things about different cultures every day.
  3. It is not a 9 to 5 job ““ and that is a good thing:   If you”™re the sort of person who likes getting up at the same time in the morning, having the same breakfast, putting on a suit and tie, and then catching the same train into the same office, day after day after day, then hospitality probably isn”™t for you. It involves a great deal of variety, not only in terms of the hours you work, but also the work you do during those hours.
  4. Fast vertical and horizontal mobility:   there are few industries where you can work for the same company and can work such a great variety of jobs:   Reception, reservations, concierge.   Or chef, waiter, host.   And then there is the great potential for rapid horizontal movement.   The dream of the dishwasher that becomes a General Manager is still alive.   If you work hard, acquire your qualifications, get on with customers and colleagues, and show initiative, very soon, you”™ll find yourself in a management position.
  5. It is a safe bet.   People always need food, drink and a place to sleep.   So even during times of economic downturn, the industry continues on.   The last few years have been difficult, but the hospitality industry was less affected than other sectors.

At Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality, we are passionate about working in the hospitality industry.   If you are interested in joining our team for a full time position (Costa Rican Nationals or residents for Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Arenas del Mar Rainforest and Beachfront Resort, Harmony Hotel, Latitude 10 Exclusive Beachfront Resort, Kura Design Villas and Nicaraguan Nationals or residents for Jicaro Island Ecolodge).   We offer internships to students interested in sustainability and luxury hospitality as well.   Contact us here for more information.

Meet Jose Pablo, Latitude 10 Resort’s General Manager

March 22, 2013

Jose Pablo Saenz has worked with the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges since 2011 as Guest Experience Coordinator and recently took on the challenge of being the General Manager at Latitude 10 Exclusive Beach Resort in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.   When Jose Pablo was looking for a career after high school, it was clear that the location had to be near the beach as he is a passionate surfer.   He was very clear that he did not want to become a ” surf bum” but he knew that there would be a possibility to combine his hobby with this professional development.

So here he surfing and working is in Santa Teresa, one of Costa Rica”™s premier surfing destinations and tourism hot spots.   One happy camper!!!   He often takes guests with him during his afternoon surf break and shows them the best breaks and insider tips.   Besides surfing, fishing is Jose Pablo”™s other great hobby and he will be happy to take you to a river mouth nearby and catch some dinner that we will be happy to prepare at the Latitude 10 Clubhouse”™s open kitchen.

Jose Pablo”™s biggest strength as a manager is his 100% dedication to customer service.   He is driven by the smiles and happiness that he sees on his guest”™s faces and he does not rest until everybody has the ” best vacation ever”.   Working for Cayuga allows him to combine his passion about surfing, put his customer service skills to work and be part of a sustainable development project which is a value that is very important to him.

Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality is a world leader in sustainable hospitality management.   We manage and market hotels, resorts, eco lodges and Haciendas in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with a focus on high end experiences and sustainability.

Meet Marijke, An Inspiring Story of Achievement

December 27, 2012

One of the things that makes us most happy at Cayuga is to see our staff excel in what they do.   We have literally hundreds of stories of staff members that came with no or minimal skills and have worked their way up in the various lodges, hotels and resorts.   From construction worker to head of reservations, from housekeeper to head guide, from dish washer to executive chef.

Marijke with Karen Lewis, co-owner of Lapa Rios and Andrea Bonilla, co-owner of Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality

One of the most impressive careers is that of Marijke Moulder though.    She is a young local woman that was born in Golfito in southern Costa Rica who grew up her childhood and teenage years in Belgium.   She came back to Costa Rica when she was 16 years old.   After working her way up through the ranks, she is now the first local General Manager at Lapa Rios and doing a stellar job with her team.  She is an inspiration for many young women in rural areas of Costa Rica.   Even though that she does not have a formal high school or university degree, she has been learning by observing and doing and taken full advantage of the support network that Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality offers to its managers.

Have you met Marijke during your visit to Lapa Rios?   She has worked there almost ten years as receptionist, sustainability coordinator, assistant food & beverage manager and operations manager.    By the way, our #2 at Lapa Rios Arnay Garcia is also from Puerto Jimenez.   Hiring and developing local talent, that is what ecotourism is all about, right?

Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality is a world leader in sustainable hospitality management.   We manage and market hotels, resorts, eco lodges and Haciendas in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with a focus on high end experiences and sustainability.

Cayuga’s Christmas Activity

December 7, 2012

Every year, we try to do something different for our Cayuga Corporate Staff and the Managers at the Hotels.   It is all about living our theme of Experience, Learn, Connect & Relax.   This year, we focused on a San Jose experience.   San Jose really has a bad reputation among tourists (and locals) and so we ventured off with a guide to learn more about our Capital city and explore hidden treasures.   It was curious to see that our guide Stacey is from Indiana and she was showing the Ticos in our team the secrets of their own capital.   We walked for over two hours and learned about history, architecture, culinary aspects and of course had a lot of fun.    As hoteliers, the highlight was a stop in a local ” Cantina”, a watering hole in an old corner house.  The bartender/owner had been there for over 40 years and shared his stories about past Presidents tumbling out of his bar.   Of course there was also time to do some window shopping as you can see in the picture below.   San Jose offers an incredible variety of things”¦

Following the city tour, we headed to Grano de Oro and had a completely different experience.  The hotel”™s Food and Beverage Director Ciro invited us to wine tasting of 3 spectacular Spanish and Italian wines.     Since we only serve South American wines at our hotels, this was a real treat for all of us and especially the last wine from Sicily was a great hit.   Ciro knows wine like no one else in Costa Rica and the new wine cava at Grano de Oro is a great place to have such a tasting.  

By now, everybody was starving and we headed to the newly opened restaurant Furca.   It”™s co-owner and executive chef Marco has worked at the Harmony Hotel in Nosara for us and was happy to cook up something very special for us.   Locally produced meats and vegetables (a lot of them next to the restaurant”™s parking lot) and more wine.   The food was some of the best we have sampled in San Jose recently and we are sure this restaurant will be a great success.   After the main course, all Cayuga team members received their Christmas gifts (they could choose from a list of experiences that would allow them to learn, connect or relax).    So gift certificates ranged from pole dancing to tango lessons to spa treatments to yoga classes.    We did a silent auction to raise money for a local family in need and raised over $1,200.   The winner will spend a weekend at Monte Azul in the mountains of Costa Rica next year.

Thanks to our wonderful team for a successful year and we all know that 2013 will be even better.   Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year.

A leader in ecotourism, Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality manages luxury and boutique hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.