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Feelings, Thoughts and Memories – Reflections on 2015 By Germain Gallardo

Wrongly, I have said before: ‘’There is a path to happiness.”  I have realized that happiness is not a destination to be traveled to.  I cannot buy happiness, own it, earn it, wear it, consume it or permanently display it.  My continuous learning brings me closer to the realization that happiness is experienced in the soul, and is, therefore, a spiritual experience, living every moment with love, peace, grace and gratitude.  As I reflect on the happenings of 2015, I am humbled and grateful for having experienced so much happiness.

On December 8th, 2014, I arrived with my family to Cancun, seeking to renew our feeling of “home.” We had left Mexico years before, with clear intentions to return one day and call it home once again. Little did I know that this “welcome home” feeling was going to be enriched by a huge family of six hundred and fifty new members, who I proudly call my new family – a family dedicated to looking after you at Villa del Palmar Cancun.

Together, we have had fun while we have worked; our intention being to learn, create a sense of community, serve and grow, both personally and professionally.  I am continuously motivated by the young members of my team who, with their desire for discovery and the strength of their youth, motivate me to work harder.  I am thankful that we have become closer and recognize each other not as bosses or workers, but as individuals. We have implemented daily leadership briefings in the morning that begin with showing gratitude.  We are almost finished reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and have been working on our personal missions, spending lots of time learning how to listen.

On the job front, we have also made progress. We have implemented the “Keep Me Beautiful Program,”  a program where one person is continuously touching up the external part of our buildings. For the inside, we introduced “The Perfect Room Program” and remodeled our “Preventive Maintenance Program.” We empowered both the Housekeeping team and our Food and Beverage teams by decentralizing control and creating more collaborative and focused teams, and have provided team leaders with tablets to keep control of their inventory and minimize desk work.  Our product is so unique that it requires more attention than just cleaning, so we changed the name of the maids or room attendants to “room stylists”. We implemented a nightly room warm-up program, where each room is refreshed and made ready for a good night’s sleep. Also, uniform ordering is now the responsibility of each leader.  

In the Food and Beverage department, we are implementing the concept of Independent Business Units (IBU’s) to empower the chefs and managers and teach them how to manage a business and lead their teams.  Lots of work remains for this very large team, but 2016 is set to be a stellar year. We have improved our culinary provision by introducing new menus in Casona, Zama, Davino, and, by the end of the year, we should have the new In Room Service and Hiroshi menus complete. We have welcomed several gifted professionals to our team and we are looking for some more changes and additions.  

At Villa del Palmar Cancun, we continue to support local groups, and our 5K run served our community and their cleanup efforts. We are looking forward to our possible association with Isla Animals to improve the lives of our four legged friends in our municipality.

As always, customer satisfaction is what drives us; we now answer all comments on TripAdvisor and other social media forums personally. This seemed an impossible task; yet today, each comment gets a direct response, not a copy-pasted reply. We will work hard to earn lots of four and five star comments.  My heart is filled with joy to read how many of our guests take the time to leave us their comments. If TripAdvisor and other forums were able to measure the heart and commitment of my team, we would be number one. We will continue to work on our reputation and earn lots of great reviews.

The highlights of this year for me have been the popular bimonthly employee assemblies. These are a time of celebration and community.  It recharges me, and I love to see the many smiling faces. “True North” (all working in the same direction) has become a part of our culture and has inspired so many to keep our goal in mind, to leave a legacy of service. I am so proud of my team and the things that we have accomplished together, and more importantly, all the new things that we will discover next year.

On a more personal note, this year has brought me some scary moments, but I am thankful that even these, not too pleasant, moments blessed me and my family with opportunities to show love and appreciation.

In closing, 2016 will be a year of awareness and of constant reminders: that we are ready to celebrate and harvest the work of 2015. It will be a year to focus on wellbeing, fun, community and service. I close my thoughts with a gigantic “thank you” to each and everyone that has touched our lives, to those who share their love, to those who are critical. To all, we wish you a prosperous and healthy 2016.

With gratitude,