This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Jose Valenzo, one of the butlers at Garza Blanca. He told me about the service he provides to Elite Members and gave me some tips about how Elite Members can take advantage of butler service to enjoy their stay even more.
Jose, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today, and share a little bit about yourself with our Members. Can you tell me about where you are from, and how you got started at Garza Blanca?
I’m originally from the city of Chilpancingo, in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. My parents moved to Puerto Vallarta when I was 6 years old. I have been working in the hospitality business for about 12 years. I worked in restaurants before coming to Garza Blanca. Garza Blanca was my first hotel, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work in the hotel business; I like it a lot. I started here on April 1, 2009 as a head waiter in the restaurants, and I’ve been here ever since.
My first position was head waiter of Blanca Blue. I worked there for about a year and a half. Then, when BocaDos opened, I helped to open the restaurant. I was in charge of the service, together with the chef; she was in charge of the kitchen, and I was in charge of the waitstaff and the bar.
So you have been at Garza Blanca for a long time!
Yes. I really like working at Garza Blanca. We have a good ambience, we get along well together, most of the co-workers are friendly, so that helps a lot for you to be comfortable at work. The relationship with co-workers is good, the guests and members are very friendly and nice. If you can get all of that at your job, why would you go somewhere else?! Garza Blanca has also given all of us the opportunity to grow with the company over the years, so it’s been a good fit for me, for my career.
In April, I interviewed Jassiel Garcia, the restaurant manager of BocaDos. He has also been working at Garza Blanca for 8 years. Did you work with him back then?
Yes, actually Jassiel also started as a waiter at Blanca Blue. Back then, Blanca Blue was the only restaurant on the property. Then, we both opened BocaDos together. At that time, Tower 4 was not here, Tower 5 was not here, the Panoramic Pool was not here, and BocaDos was pretty far away from everything, in the jungle. You had to walk or take a golf cart to get to BocaDos.
So, how did you switch from restaurants to butler?
Five years ago, I heard about the opening of the butler position. I knew that by becoming a butler, I could provide a little bit more personal service to the Members, besides serving their dinners. So, I applied for the position of butler, I received the training, and I transferred to the position of butler.
What does a butler do?
This is a common question. I think a lot of members don’t really know what the butlers do, so I will give you the summary of everything that we do, from start to finish, from a few days before the members arrive, to the end of their stay.
Here at Garza Blanca the butlers take care of the Elite Members. Access to butler service is only with Elite membership, so this a great perk, and a reason to consider upgrading your membership.
We want our Elite members to really feel pampered while they are here at Garza Blanca. That’s the reason for their vacation, to really enjoy their leisure time and be absolutely taken care of. They might only be here for a few days, or a week, but it’s the time that they can really forget about doing things on their own. When they are at home they do a lot, from working, to taking care of the home and the family. So while they are here, this is their time to relax and experience luxury service. Butlers take care of everything, so they do not have to lift a finger, and they can just relax as much as possible and enjoy their vacation.
Butlers are similar to concierge, but more personalized. Concierge will stay at their desk, whereas butlers can go to the members’ rooms, to the beach, to the pool. We go wherever the members are on the property, to accommodate all of their needs.
Butlers are assigned to members during their stay, and we keep in close contact with them while they are here.
We start with a pre-arrival email, to greet them and check on their needs. We ask them if they will be celebrating any special occasion while here at Garza Blanca, such as a birthday or anniversary. We ask them if they have any special dietary restrictions or allergies. If so, we inform the restaurants ahead of time. We ask them if they need us to arrange transportation to or from the airport, or for any excursions they plan to enjoy while they are here. We ask them if they have any other requests, such as groceries. If so, we place the groceries in their room before they arrive. Our members really like these pre-arrival services, because they know everything will be ready for them when they arrive.
We coordinate with the concierge to assign the room and to verify their room is the proper one. We can assist with reservations if any reservations need to be made, confirmed, or modified.
We set up dinner reservations and reservations for tours, activities, or excursions that the members would like to do while they are here.
Once the members arrive, together with the concierge we can do an in-room check-in, if the room is available. This means the members can skip the front desk and go straight to their room, and we bring the check-in service up to them.
We offer unpacking service. Not everyone feels comfortable with that, but we have done it a few times and it’s a really nice, luxury service thave we provide to our members if they want to take advantage. Instead of using that time to unpack, members can just go straight to the pool and start enjoying their vacation immediately. We do it with all the professionalism that it requires; all of the butlers are trained to provide the service. We also offer packing service at the end of the vacation. This is just to save our members a little bit of time so they can enjoy until the last drop of their vacation.
We reserve chairs by the pool for our members, we make dinner reservations at the restaurants for them, either on the property or in town, and we make reservations for any tours, activities or excursions that they are interested in taking during their trip. We arrange any necessary transportation.
We provide daily coffee service. If the members are in the all inclusive plan, we coordinate with room service to deliver coffee and pastries to their room every morning. This is a really nice service, because we get to see our members each morning, and if at that moment they need something for the day – for example maybe a taxi to take them for a tour, more towels or anything – it’s very helpful to the members because they have that moment to talk to the butler and ask for whatever they need. It’s the perfect way to start off the morning.
We keep in touch with our members throughout their stay, so we can follow up directly with their requests while they are here.
If they have any issues with their room, need maintenance or cleaning service, they can mention it to us and we will take care of it immediately.
We offer nightly turndown service, which is just another little luxury perk that a lot of members enjoy, just another way to feel pampered.
We coordinate with the concierge the departure arrangements at the end of their stay, such as transportation, boarding passes, in-room check out if necessary, which can save our members about 15 to 30 minutes if they are in a time crunch, and anything else we can do to ensure a smooth departure. We do our best to be there at the moment of departure to say goodbye and invite our members to come back again.
Do you like working as a butler better than working in the restaurants?
Yes, because I get to know the people better. You might have someone in the restaurant but they are busy talking, eating, enjoying themselves. But when you’re a butler you see them every day and get to know them better.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, personally.
I’m a proud father of 3 girls. I like to enjoy my time with them as much as I can. Sometimes we take them to San Sebastián in the mountains. I like to enjoy the beach as much as I can, as well. Sometimes we don’t realize being here Puerto Vallarta we have such amazing beaches around. Every time we have the opportunity to escape to one of them, we try to go for it.
I am a food and wine lover. I usually go for Mexican wine most of the time, but also Cabernet and Malbecs are my favorite. In regards to Mexican food, I love seafood. Anything that is seafood is good for me. And steaks, I love steaks too. That would be my favorite, steaks and seafood.
Is there anything else you would like the members to know?
We are ready to welcome the members. It’s always nice to see familiar faces again. Everyone here is always looking out for the members and helping them to enjoy their stay as much as possible.