The new general manager of the Westin Casuarina says the hotel will be getting a spruce-up.
“We want to enhance the arrival experience for the guest, including all the landscaping, the lobby and what goes on at the pool, which drives all resorts,” said John Wagner, who began his new role this month.
“We will brick the entryway driveway to give a different feel and replace the tiling in the pool, all the internal plants will be changed, we will paint the lobby, put some carpets in, we may change the furniture – different things like that have been neglected for a while. Just cosmetic things, initially.”
There are further refurbishments in the cards, said Mr. Wagner, who noted that all rooms would also be brought up to date in due course.
“Eventually the whole place will be remodelled. We need so many things equipment-wise, we’ve got kitchen equipment and stuff going on in the back of the house for staff to get things corrected that maybe they didn’t have for a while.”
Marathon, not a sprint
Mr.Wagner succeeds contract acting general manager Larry Vitagliano who had steadied the ship following the acquisition of the property by Pyramid Hotel Group affiliate WMC Ltd in February. Mr. Wagner said improvements will be made immediately.
“This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, so for me it’s to gradually make changes and we will get there… when you neglect the property and don’t spend money where you should, it is hard for people to deal with, living in the aftermath of the grandeur, so to speak.
“This [hotel] has a really strong client base of repeat customers and if they come back and say ‘it’s not how it used to be’, I can say sorry but I am trying to get it back up there. I can’t correct what has happened in the recent past, but what I can do is correct the future.”
Oasis of hospitality
The new general manager and area managing director has experience in the Caribbean already, having overseen a resort in Jamaica for seven years. He pegged Cayman as an island with many unique points as a destination.
“It’s a great island, from what I’ve seen. There are a lot of services here, the local community is strong, there is a lot of good support, so I couldn’t ask for anything better.
“This is really an oasis, almost, for hospitality in the Caribbean. It’s better than anything I’ve ever seen. I have been to Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, Cancun and the Mexican peninsula, and this is as good if not better [in terms of] quality, experience, safety, what’s available. Nobody bothers you about buying things, you’re free to buy what you want, and from that standpoint that’s a big plus,” he said.
Mr. Wagner has a long history in the hospitality industry going back to 1978, including regional and general manager positions for global branded hotels. Prior to joining Pyramid Hotel Group in 2006, he held regional and vice president positions for Destination Hotels and Resorts and Warwick International Hotels.