Acoya’s new General Management couple: Pieter and Sam van Dommelen
WILLEMSTAD – From a town near Utrecht, (Maarssen) the Netherlands, Pieter and Sam came all the way to Curaçao to run the prestigious Acoya Hotel.
In the Netherlands they had 4 two in one shop in shops, making it 8 shops in total were they sold chocolate, candies and cakes. Their background is in the hotel business. Ten years ago it was their first time on the island. The island quickly became a paradise for the couple. A friend of them, from Curaçao, was influential in their decision to come here to Curaçao. That is why they came in 2006 and felt immediately in love with the island.
Sam started as the General Manager on November 1 of this year. “I was here a few weeks before and I was brought in to create the fun zone. And later the spa. It was a great project. Acoya has a spa and it is in exclusive cooperation with CurAloe and CPC, which is the distributor of the spa.”
In response to the question how did she become General Manager, Sam said that the former GM received a great opportunity in the Netherlands, in Eindhoven specifically, to build a hotel from scratch. Acoya’s owner and the former GM knew Pieter already and because of his experience, they asked the couple to run the hotel.
The couple has been working together for 17 years. “Our secret is that we are best friends. And we respect each other. We complement each other. We finish each other’s sentences. It’s like when I’m alone I’m missing something big in my life. We are soul mates. We don’t agree all the time, we have major arguments but we help each other,” said Sam during their interview with Curaçao Chronicle.
“We are each other’s strengths in our weakness. We are destined to be together. It’s like the day when we were married the civil servant said that we are yin and yang.”
When asked how they see the hotel in five years and if they will still be here, the couple said; “We are here to stay. We are very loyal. The hotel is currently at a high level. The way it is now it’s good, but we want perfection, and excellence is the word. We want it to be much better than what it is now.”
According to Sam, the Acoya team is united. They are very hospitable. The guests are their priorities. “That is where we keep ourselves busy to make it very pleasant for our guests. The guests must come with a smile and when they leave with a bigger smile on their faces. Everybody that comes here for the first time are strangers, and when they leave they are our friends. This is our way to work.”
“Our relationship with the owners is great. He is so dedicated with all his employees. He is a human being. And he really loves Curaçao. He’s been for more than 30 years. Acoya is a Japanese pearl but is it spelt Akoya. He changed the K for the C to represent Curaçao. He’s always involved with his employees. He always goes around asking if he can help. He is a real human being. We are dealing with people and you have to have a people person.”
When asked if she is a people’s person, Sam quickly answered; “I’m a people’s person!”
”I worked in the housekeeping department and I went cleaning with them. The whole management is helping each other. When front desk needs help, we come and help. Being management is just an expression. We are a team and a team cannot exist if you cling on to a position. I always thank the employees for their work every day. And thanking them for making the resort so great. Our team is like a hand. Each finger is important. Without one finger, the hand is not complete.”
Pieter indicated that their stores in the Netherlands were sold. “Our employees organised a goodbye party. This is just to show you the good relationship we had with the employees.” According to Sam, they are still in contact with them. Before they left to Curaçao, they made sure all their employees had a job. And that is the same type of relationship the couple want to have with the Acoya employees.
Recent headlines on the island indicated that the tourism sector is in crisis. When asked about this, Sam said that she it is sad that at people are talking about a crisis. “They are always talking about the issues in a negative way. They might have the figures, but we don’t think there is a crisis. We don’t think we have problems, we have challenges. We know if there aren’t many tourists coming to the island, but we look for solutions. We don’t dwell on negativism.”
Something positive for Acoya is that they are almost full for the next season. They have some rooms left but that is for walk-ins and locals.
Acoya has its marketing strategy but according to the GM couple, the best strategy is word of mouth promotion. “If we excel then other people will find out.”
Sam also wanted to share a special message to all those involved in the tourism sector here on the island. “We have to work on our inner strength. Let us not distant ourselves from each other because of panic. But let us come together by looking for solutions. Be proud, work towards the highest you can achieve and love what you do. Remember that every day when you wake up you have chances. If you have a positive mind you will see these chances. If you are negative you will become blind to the solutions.”