PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO—Like so many properties during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rosewood Mayakoba here closed its operations for nearly two months. Instead of closing the resort entirely or going down to a skeleton staff, the entire full-time staff decided to co-quarantine onsite.
“58 employees and I moved into the resort first and foremost to take care of the property,” said Daniel Scott, regional VP, Rosewood Hotel Group/managing director of the hotel. “Of course we wanted to maintain and ensure that we took care of the resort during the closure, but also we had guests who had been here and we have residents in the hotel, so they actually lived in the hotel during the closure so we also took care of them during the two month period when no one was coming into the resort and nobody was leaving.”
He continued, “We wanted to do the right thing, of course for the property in terms of maintaining it, but we also thought about the right thing to do for our team. Instead of having everyone outside, why don’t we just make a community inside the hotel? Everyone was able bring in their families and many people brought their dogs. We thought it was the best way to keep the property up, but also keep the energy up during the quarantine.”
Part of doing the right thing was dropping off food for the medical staff at a local hotel. “We wanted to show the doctors at the local hospital that we cared about them,” said Scott. “Two of us would leave every Tuesday and Thursday. We dropped everything outside; that would be the only time we ever left the property.”
All of the employees, no matter their job title and responsibilities, shared all duties including cooking, cleaning and general maintenance of the 620-acre resort and used the time for self-improvement, team building and community support delivering meals and groceries to the families in need in Playa del Carmen.
“We had a great amount of ownership by everyone,” said Scott. “This is our home, and everyone shares that empowerment and responsibility. Our culture of respect is one where everyone has different responsibilities, but we all treat each other the same. There are no levels per se. For us, we said, ‘We are in this together and we are going to get through this together.’ We decided it wasn’t just employees, everyone would volunteer to assist with both the cooking for ourselves and for the guests, as well as the doctors. You would go in the laundry room and you would see the spouses assisting. You would see everyone pitching in to ensure that the property was even better when we reopened.”
Everyone remained positive throughout the entire experience. “All of us are going to leave here and we are going to be so proud that after two months, and only 60 of us and our families, people are going to return and see that the garden looks even better, the furniture looks better and we came out better in how we do our jobs as hospitality professionals,” he said.
The owners maintained all of the full-time employees during the shutdown and helped their other workers as well. “For those who were at home, we continued to take care of them,” said Scott.“Ownership also provided extra money for groceries. The team knew that we were taking extra care of them because some of them rely very heavily on gratuities, so our owners were very conscious of that and did the right thing. They understand for us, it has been about long-term relationships. You can talk about family, you can talk about the team being the most important thing to a hotel’s success, as long as we demonstrate it.”
The experience taught Scott the importance of humility, empathy and compassion. “I always talk about humility being a really important quality in a leader. Also, just being empathetic and compassionate. Those three qualities, both throughout the quarantine and not, are even more important…The empathy for the team to understand that they are not alone. We have become even closer here. For me as a leader, just understanding that sometimes you might not even have the answers for your team, but you can be compassionate, you can be empathetic to at least understand the situation that they are going through and you are with them and that they are not alone in the situation. For me, I always say that the day we have everything figured out is the day we are not special, and I say that humility always is an integral part of our success here in Rosewood Mayakoba, but even more so after this experience.”
While he said that he will always remember this experience several things will stand out. “What I will always remember is the resilience of the people I work with because we all know that we weren’t alone with the impact of COVID. We did these special nights together at the hotel and we would read books and we would talk about them together. I was just so impressed with the team, whether it be the security, the maintenance, the gardeners, the housekeepers, and the resilience that they showed. They used it as an opportunity for self-improvement. It was inspiring to me because we all had our ups and downs, but I think the team here just demonstrated through everything they did over those three months, that this thing happened, but we are going to make the most of it and we are going to become closer as a team. I am going to be a better member of the team, a better mom, dad, child, etc.’ That was so beautiful to me.”