|Juan Lebron Bernal.|
When you think of all the jobs in the world, a hotel manager in Ibiza, would raise most peoples eyebrows and garner their interest. For Ibiza is seen as one of the main party capitals of the world and images of wrecked rooms and furniture being chucked out of windows springs to mind as some of the day to day issues that Hotel Managers in Ibiza have to deal with. I wanted to find out what really happens in the day to day life of an Ibiza Hotel manager so I tracked down one with over two decades of experience working within the industry. His name is Juan Lebron Bernal and he is currently the manager of Hotel Club Augusta in S’Aragamassa. I started by asking Juan about his background and experience. “I am from Sevilla and I arrived on the island over 25 years ago when I was 18. I am married with two children, Nicolas and Rodrigo. My first job was as a bellboy at the Hotel Bahamas in Playa Den Bossa and then I went to work as assistant manager at the Hotel S’Estanyol Hotel in San Antonio”
Three years later, the S’ Estanyol and a number of other hotels in San Antonio, were bought by the GPS brand, a company that specialised in cheap, low quality holidays, with a “pack em and stack em” type business model. “With GPS I became manager of S’Estanyol and then after a few years, was promoted to general manager of the 15 GPS Hotels in the San Antonio area”. I ask Juan what it was like to work in that type of environment “Too many problems, every day problem after problem….2000 problems from 15 hotels. It was not easy and I did not like it and decided I needed a change” comments Juan with a tired smile. In 2009, Juan became General Manager at the family Hotel, Club Augusta, where he is content and happy today. “The area that this Hotel is situated in is very beautiful and quiet. This is how I like it and I am lucky to have such great staff working with me. It is what makes this hotel special. The quality of our product, our staff and the beautiful location that we are privileged to be part of”
Juan’s working day starts at 9am, when he arrives at the hotel to check everything is ok. “I have a look around the place, make sure everything is correct and talk to my staff. I go home at 2.30pm and then back for 4.30pm and I could be here to 10 or 11pm at night. I am always on my Blackberry to answer emails and take bookings online. We have many returning guests and they all like to talk to me to arrange any personal requirements they may have” I then ask Juan about any changes he has noticed in the industry since he began working in Ibiza 25 years ago. “When I first worked in Ibiza everybody came for the island, its beaches and its beauty, good food, relaxing and family hotels. Now that has changed, more people are now interested in the VIP, the Clubs and the dancing. The guests are still the same….most are good but some bad. I like to work with the nice guests and so do my staff here at Hotel Augusta. It all make life much easier.”
I then ask Juan about the hardest part of his Job ” The hardest part is getting people to come to the hotel….this is a very important and difficult part of my job” comments Juan. I now utilise Facebook and social media and Tripadvisor is very important to us. Five years ago when I was working in San Antonio over 85% of the tourists were package. Only 10-15% were direct through our website. Today, 50% book independently through our website after reading Tripadvisor and our Facebook, which for them is real and that’s what new clients want to see…..real pictures of people and our hotel, not brochures”. Juan agrees that the business model of Ibiza Hotels has changed dramatically with the advent of social media. “The guests that book independently also tend to be nicer guests. They are price concious and will ask for special deals which we will always try to accommodate. When a guest books direct through our website we can offer them a little more incentive. At Club Augusta our aim is always to please our guests”
As a guest of Club Augusta myself I can testify to the hotels many assets, none more greater than the quality of its welcome and staff. Juan and his team are a naturally pleasant group of people who believe in traditional Ibicenco hospitality and fun holidays. Friendly, but at the same time professional in their service. The staff are always happy to talk to you and as family hotels go, there are not many better than Club Augusta on the island. To reflect the traditional Ibicenco Hospitality of the hotel, Juan has kindly offered a free upgrade on any board option when booking through the hotels website. So if booking B&B you and family receive Half Board, book half board and get Full Board. All you have to do is mention the DannyKay Blog offer at time of booking. Hopefully Ibiza does not loose people like Juan and places like Hotel Augusta as they embody what is good about Ibiza. If the island had more hotels like Augusta it would be a better place as the hotel stands for traditional Spanish and Ibicenco hospitality, the type of service that maid Spain so popular as a holiday destination in the 70’s. In fact, some of the staff working at the Hotel today, have worked there all their life and continue to happily be part of the traditional, laid back atmosphere there.