It was a pleasure meeting up with Sandra Castillo Del Busto, Front of House Manager and Katie Jackson, Front Office Manager to speak about their love of living the CaymanKind lifestyle and what they adore about being part of the Beach House team.
With all the changes taking place at our Beach House these two ladies have front row seats to all the exciting activity that has been happening at the recently opened Botanika Union, our unique vision of the ultimate spa experience and our cool (and even bigger retail) space, the Mercantile. Read on to learn more about these unforgettable faces of our Beach House!
Sandra hails from Peru and she started her love affair with Cayman back in 2006, when she moved to our little paradise island to work at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, which had newly opened the year before. There she started as Club Lounge Concierge and then held multiple positions in the Front Office such as Quality Leader, Rooms Controller and Front Office Supervisor. In 2013, she started a new adventure at the Ritz Carlton Aruba but decided to move back to Cayman after a year and a half to reunite with her fiancé, who she has now been married to for two years. She joined the Beach House team in October 2017.
Katie comes from the other side of the world, in the UK, where she gained extensive experience in the hospitality industry. She started her career at the tender age of 16, when she was working part-time at a hotel where her mother worked. She was a receptionist at the Marriott Grosvenor Square in London, where she was then promoted to Guest Relations Executive. Katie then moved to the St. Pancras Renaissance hotel as Guest Relations Executive and Duty Manager, and then progressed to Night Manager. For the last year and a half of her time in the UK, Katie was the Assistant Front Office Manager at the London EDITION. She joined the Beach House team in January 2018.
When asked what they love about their jobs, Sandra said it is all about the people, both the guests and the staff. She explained: “I love meeting new people everyday and being able to make those amazing memorable experiences for them – and knowing that we all have the power to make a difference during a guest’s time with us. Everyday is different and we are all working together to achieve the same goal. It is all on us. I think it is really the simple things that we can do for the guests that make all the difference. We see that it is so rewarding and it makes our guests genuinely happy. It really makes my day.”
“At the same time, I think the team that we have is absolutely amazing. It is great that all the teams from the different departments want to work together and help each other. We are all working towards the same goal and that is very unique. You don’t see that in other hotels. We also all feel and embody the Beach House vibe, which is casual and fun. We are a smaller team so it is like a family and we know each other very well. This is what makes it very special.”
Katie talked about how she enjoys working at a property that understands the importance of creating unique experiences as well as standing out with its own concept. She elaborated: “You have guests who want to come to our resort to have the Beach House Experience and get something new and different from their holiday. I started off working for the Marriott brand and it has been nice to come back to that and see how it has changed, how it has developed and how it has moved on. That was five years ago and within that time it has changed a lot. Our property is unique compared to the other ones I have worked at and it is nice to see that some of the standards are different. It is really an exciting time to be here.”
“I also love that you come into work and you don’t know what to expect – everyday is different and you never know what is going to happen next. That is because we have such a diverse team and our guests come from all over the world. It’s fun, exciting and keeps us on our toes.”
Both Sandra and Katie were both bitten by the hospitality bug at a young age. When asked what inspired them to choose a career path in the hotel industry, their responses resonated. Sandra described: “When I was 13 and I was trying to decide what to study, it was between hospitality and graphic design, which was an area that I was always attracted to. But at the end I decided to go for hospitality because I love travelling and meeting new people. I am so happy that I did!”
Katie said: “When I was 16, I was looking for a part time job and my mom worked at a hotel so she helped me get a job at her hotel. I was working in Events and F&B and I loved it. I love meeting new people and doing new things. That is when I realised that this could be my career. Cayman is a completely different lifestyle. It is great to experience new scenery. The weather, the people, the relaxed attitude – it is so different. In a big city, everyone is on a mission. Here, everyone is so friendly and they stop to talk to you in the supermarket, it is more like a close-knit community.”
When asked what attracted Sandra to Cayman, it seems like it was always in the cards for her. She has lived and worked in Cayman and Aruba for the last 12 years and she even met her husband here! She elaborated: “To be honest for me, it was purely about the opportunity at the time. So when I graduated from Hospitality Management, I started working at the JW Marriott in Lima. I was an intern there and for 10 months I was working as a Hostess. The Director of F&B said that a Ritz Carlton just opened in 2006 in Grand Cayman and suggested that I apply. At the time I didn’t even know where it was. But I thought “why not?” this is the time to be adventurous and experience new places. I applied and here I am today. When I first moved here I just turned 23 and I thought that I would be here for two years and get some experience and then go back to Peru. But here I am – I never went back to Peru! I started growing my career at the Ritz Carlton and I fell in love with the island. It is safe, the people are amazing and I love the beach and the sun. I adore the Caribbean. And one of the things that I love the most is the diversity and the nice expat community here. When you look around, you see that we are all from different parts of the world but it has just such a nice family feel. You don’t see that often when you travel to different islands in the Caribbean. I think that this island is special so that is what makes it very nice to live here.”
When asked about the things they like about the Cayman lifestyle, they both agree that there is an authentic and happy vibe here. Katie said: “It is the feeling you get here. It is such a chilled out and positive atmosphere!” Sandra concurred: “I believe in CaymanKind – everyone here is really nice and genuine and it feels like a real community. I am also a big beach person. I would love to get into diving as my husband dives every weekend. We are actually moving into a sail boat soon, which will be docked at the Yacht Club. I am so excited about that. So when that happens I will have no excuse but to get my diving qualification.”
When talking about the future of the Beach House, they are both over the moon about all the cool things unfolding before their eyes. Sandra concluded: “The whole Beach House Experience and all the exciting changes that we are experiencing such as the opening of The Mercantile and Botanika Union – it is all just going to add to our unique vibe, which makes us so different from other hotels. It is so nice that we do different activities and events for our guests from the S’mores to the bonfires; it makes a huge difference. All of this adds to the unique experience that we offer. Being familiar with this island since 2006, I have seen the changes and I know the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of our Beach House. It is just so exciting because we are constantly evolving and improving.”