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Tourism Stories: Alonso Bermúdez Paniagua
Located in the area of Islita, Costa Rica, Hotel Punta Islita opened in 1994 amid economic disadvantage and environmental decline. Access to education was limited, professional opportunities were minimal, and the tropical dry forest was in danger.
By offering job opportunities and carrying out an intensive training program to members of the community in different areas of service in the hotel, as well as activities and attractions in the surrounding area, Hotel Punta Islita became a vital source of economic activity and skill development for many residents, including Alonso Bermudez Paniagua.
Alonso started working in the hotel fifteen years ago as a front desk representative, and eventually became the resident manager of the property. He believes that working at the hotel offered him many opportunities to grow both professionally and as a human being.
"Hola. My name is Alonso Bermúdez Paniagua, and this is my story…
I am from the area of Islita. I have been working for the hotel Punta Islita for 14 years already. I grew up in a nearby town called San Francisco, it’s only 25 km from here. It’s a very simple town, like any other town in the area. I was born there and I was raised there, however I went to school to another town because the school there was very basic. When I was young my family encouraged me to go to a better school so I could get better prepared.
My community has no more than 200 people, with basic services such as a soccer field, church, school, bar, you know, things like that. But very, very basic.
My dream was always to have better job or to have different opportunities than the ones that I could have over there. Where I was growing up you could only work in cattle raising, farming or construction. And so my dream was always to go to school, be better prepared and get a better job. I never thought about working in the hotel business, but it was something interesting, and the tourism sector gave us good opportunities. And my family had a little restaurant so we were always related to service. It was different to what I do here, but in some way it was related.
Here in my job there are a lot of challenges. The main challenge is to make the employees and the guests happy. And so we always raise the occupancy – we give more authentic experiences to our guests every day. So, that is our challenge – to keep people happy every day, and to translate it to different things.
I always say that the sector that I work for is all about service – to the client, the staff or the customer. And it is important. I explain it in a very easy way – we are here to make people happy. Happy people will come back and give more jobs, give more opportunities, and open other things to us.
If I was not working here? Maybe I would be working in construction or in a cattle raising farm, with a very limited salary. When I started working here at the hotel it was a huge thing for us – for me and for my family. It opened a lot of opportunities.
I started working here 14 years ago. Since the moment I came here, I worked hard at the front desk. And then along the years in different areas; I worked in tourism activities and in customer services and then I became the resident manager; now I am the manager of the hotel.
The hotel offers a lot of opportunities. Then it depends a lot on us, if we take them or we don’t. I was one of those persons that always wanted to grow in the company, and get more opportunities, visit different places and get more knowledge of things. So it was very nice that this sector has offered me the opportunity to grow, not only as a human being, but also as a professional."