It was in 1993 that my hotel career starts in Costa Rica.
All my life I had dedicated myself to the hospitality industry including having my own B&B in the Dominican Republic at the age of 20. One of my best hotel experiences, although I was only 17, was working as a Bellboy at the famous “Meurice Hotel” in Paris, France.After selling my bar in San Jose it was logical for me to continue my hotel career in Costa Rica. My first real job was “Maitre d´hotel” in the very famous and classy restaurant “Le Monastere” was located in San Jose where I met a bunch of celebrities and very important persons of this country. The very luxurious restaurant Le Monastere was perched on top of the central valley with an incredible panoramic view of the city of San Jose. During this time I was traveling everyday between Escazu and Atenas; I owned one of very few Volkswagen Beatles in the country at the time. Here they are called “Vocho”, which was brought from Cozumel, Mexico by a good friend of mine. I was there for more than 2 years; it was a magical place and it was a very rich, rewarding experience. If we had to close the restaurant very late, I would sometimes stay overnight in the Restaurant. For some crazy reason, I found myself sleeping on top of an improvised mattress in the middle of the famous Chapel of “Le Monastere”. One night, the owner decided to through potatoes at my bed from an upstairs window in the Chapel. I was so scared that I quickly left and went to sleep in an enclosed bedrooms far away from the Angels and Potatoes Ghost!!
I was always spending my days off in Atenas where they say it has the best climate in the world. I love the people of this little town. I was called Alex back then as Alain was too complicated for them! Sundays was very special in Atenas. All the men would reunite in Bars listening to Football or playing pool while the wives would stay home cooking and talking all afternoon. However if the man were not back at a certain time, the wives would all join together to go and get their men. Although the guys were laughing and making jokes when the wives were at the bars they quickly understood it was serious stuff and they would slowly follow their wives back to the family home where delicious typical Costarican dishes were served just like the great grandmother and other wives was doing in their neighborhood back in Canada in 1935!!!!
After Le Monastere I went to the Pacific Beach Coast working as the general manager of a small beach hotel in Playa Avellana where we had groups of surfers from every corner of the world. It was my first job at the beach in Costa Rica. Playa Avellana is not far from Tamarindo and back then the bars still had free “Tapas” with each ordered drinks. Also Santa Cruz which is the second largest town in Guanacaste after Liberia was not far from the hotel and Santa Cruz was famous for its festival of Bull riding, horse parade and dancing. At this time I tried surfing a few times however after escaping death more than twice I decide that it was safer to just drink Imperial beers on the shore looking at the real surfers doing their things!
After my beach experience I was able to join the Barcelo Spaniard group which has many hotels in Costa Rica. I start as a Maitre d´hotel of the 5 stars San Jose Palacio where I was in charge of all the Food and beverage departments. During my 3 years in this hotel I really didn´t have any personal life and it was frequently staying there from 6:00am up to 2:00 the next morning. They were tough years but I was accumulating hotel knowledge. I knew that I could go all the way! One day the Barceló director of expansion sent me to Venezuela to help for the grand opening of a new 5 stars hotel in Cumana where I was responsible of implementing all the area of restaurants, bars and special events. After being 2 months in Venezuela the Barceló group announced to me that I was promoted to the general manager of the new Parque del Lago hotel downtown San Jose, Costa Rica. I was very excited and happy to realize my dream being a general manager of a first class hotel. I remember that it was there that I had my first computer on my desk and used the Internet for the very first time! It was 1998!!!!
To be continued…