General Manager, Eliezer Quinones, has an absolutely contagious smile and passion for what he does.
On a recent afternoon, Eliezer and I sat down by the terrace of our restaurant, taking a short break and watching the ocean. I was curious about his history, hobbies and favorite things to do in Ixtapa, and he agreed to humor me with a few stories.
Eliezer, I heard you were a professional baseball player. Can you tell me a little more about it?
It would be my pleasure! I was born and grew up in Puerto Rico, where baseball is the preferred sport. I was very passionate about baseball, and have played it ever since I can remember. One of the highlights of my baseball career was playing on a team representing Puerto Rico at the Little League World Series.
Eventually I got a scholarship to play baseball at Tulane University. During my 3rd year of college I was drafted to play professionally by the Texas Rangers. It wasn’t until my 4th year of college that I signed with the Cincinnati Reds. I played on their professional minor league baseball team for four years and I was pretty decent at it! [He gives a big grin.]
And how did the connection (and transition) happen from baseball to the hospitality industry, where you are obviously very successful as well?
It might sound odd, but the transition to the hospitality industry was very natural for me. During the off season, in order to keep in shape I used to run and swim at the beach in Isla Verde Puerto Rico every afternoon. I was fascinated by all of the beautiful hotels I would pass during my work out. Sometimes I would daydream about how great it would be to work at one of the hotels.
While playing baseball I got two major injuries, my back and my wrist, so during a winter season, when I was recovering from my injuries, I decided to give working at one of the hotels a try. I started working as a bellboy in El San Juan Hotel & Casino. I loved talking with guests and providing the personal service and attention! I was there for two months, and when my injuries healed I returned to playing baseball.
After four years of professional baseball, I realized that I would not be able to continue, due to my injuries. Fortunately, because of my time as a bellboy I knew that I wanted to continue working in hotels.
It is usually very hard for a professional athlete to find another profession where they will continue to thrive after they finish their career. I have to say I was very lucky finding two professions where I am as passionate and dedicated as one can be. I had a wonderful experience at El San Juan, and now I was at a stage when I wanted to learn more and to grow.
What is it like to be General Manager of Capella Ixtapa?
Capella Ixtapa is very precious to me. I am very pleased with my team and what we were able to accomplish in the last 10 months since I joined them. There has been a tremendous focus on training and defect elimination, and I am happy to say that in 2011 Capella Ixtapa had the highest overall satisfaction scores within the brand. Of course, there is always room for improvement and we have a challenging year ahead of us in 2012. I am so grateful to have such a dedicated and passionate team, as they are the ones who create the Capella experience every day with their every deed.
I enjoy being in the hotel business, working with people and the service aspect, but I admit that I get the most satisfaction and gratification when I see that I was able to contribute to the development and growth of my staff. I am very grateful to everyone who took the time to help me learn and grow when I was still in my beginnings, and it is my pleasure now to be able to do the same for the people under me.
How do you like Ixtapa, what do you like to do in your free time, and can you tell me where your favorite spot is?
Ixtapa is beautiful! I love the lush nature, the weather, and the people. After work I usually go to work out (I still love running on the beach!), I cook (or enjoy great food prepared by locals) and go to church. My favorite place in Ixtapa is – but please don’t tell anyone [he smiles again] – Ixtapa Island. It is my favorite place to unwind and relax. I love to go there whenever I get the opportunity particularly with my family or friends. It is a great way to enjoy the nature and to spend quality time together.