Interview by KRIZETTE CHU with VIANCA GAMBOA
Images by RONAN CAPILI
Very few hotels get consistently high marks from its own customers. Coast Boracay, a small boutique hotel, has a whopping five star rating at TripAdvisor, which sources its rating from actual guests.
The hotel, operated by Raintree Group, opened May 2016. With 71 rooms, it is a little upscale, but far from being a luxury resort. But guests love it for its personal touch—staff who know you by name, who hastily spread mats on the beachfront for you, who make sure your kids have an endless supply of ice cream and popcorn, who will surprise you with a personalized breakfast pancake bearing your name.
Coast Boracay GM Randy Salvador shares his secret: redefining guest experiences without the sky-high price. PS: The hotel also has the island’s best breakfast. (Don’t miss the ube champorado.)
ON HIS BACKGROUND
I was born and raised in Bacolod but I went to Manila to study college at UST. I really wanted to work in big hotels so I had my practicum at Westin Philippine Plaza (now Sofitel Philippine Plaza). I had my first job at Pan Pacific Hotel as a travel agent and I was part of the pre-opening team back in 1997.
ON SMART TECHNOLOGY IN HOSPITALITY
When we conceptualized this hotel back in 2015, we already thought about the direction we wanted to take, technology-wise, so we invested in smart TVs. I’m proud to say that all of our rooms, from the lowest to high end, have smart TVs. It’s something not even luxury hotels have.
When Boracay reopened, we focused on one direction in line with the rehabilitation, so we made sure to ban single-use plastic—from the rooms to the restaurants. We opted for greener alternatives like eco laundry bags, bamboo straws, and even recyclable pump dispensers. We consumed a lot of bottled waters before so we found out the best solution is to distribute mugs and set up refilling stations. If people have access to free-flowing water everywhere, they will be encouraged to stop drinking from water bottles.
ON GETTING GOOD REVIEWS
We credit it on service, of course, and kindness all the way.We are in the business of making people happy, and the same goes for our staff. When you enter the hotel, you meet people, the ones cleaning the room, the security, the whole environment. We really focus on service where it matters most. One thing that we’re also really proud of is that 80 percent of our staff are Visayan locals who are trained very well—I think they got us to number one.