Quiet professionalism and attention to every detail; a door that is always open for all her staff; kindness, compassion and a smile for everyone, that’s Mirna Pech, the Royal Resorts Executive Housekeeper who is celebrating 40 years of work at Royal Resorts in Cancun.
Originally from the small town of Sotuta in Yucatan, Mirna’s family moved to Cancun in 1976 when the first hotels were springing up. She started work as a maid at The Royal Cancun, then VCI, on January 30, 1979 and remembers the early days, “There were eight to 10 of us in Housekeeping, all reporting to Doña Pilar Quintal, the Housekeeper. She taught us to work to the highest of standards and attention to detail is something that she instilled in us all. We were a family; she looked after us – staff and guests alike – and even cooked for us once a week.”
Mirna adds, “The resort was under construction when I started and we had to make our way through the building site on our cleaning rounds, stepping over rubble and across duckboards like an obstacle course. It was challenging, as anything is when you are just starting out. I also remember that I had to walk a long way from my house to the bus stop and wait in line for a bus to come along to take me to the Hotel Zone; there weren’t as many buses as there are now!
“Cancun was paradise in the early days, so many birds and animals, we even had raccoons on site at VCI! And of course the marine life was incredible. It is still beautiful here although there have been so many changes over the years due to the dramatic growth.”
Mirna worked as a maid at The Royal Cancun for three to four years and was then promoted to Supervisor and then Assistant Resort Housekeeper, spending another three years in each post.
She reminisces about one particular unwanted guest that arrived in Cancun in September 1988 to wreak havoc, “I’ll never forget Hurricane Gilbert. We didn’t have the days of warning of an approaching storm that we do now. We received the alert the same day the hurricane made landfall. I only heard about it by chance listening to the taxi radio on my way to work. As soon as I reached The Royal Cancun, I realized that the general warning had been given and I joined the other staff to help protect the villas as much as we could.
“The day after the storm there was no public transport so I walked six kilometers to the resort. The devastation was incredible: downed trees, sand everywhere, the Cuban fishing boat that ran aground in Las Perlas, beds, sofas, TVs and mini bars torn from hotel rooms by the fury of the waves strewn over Boulevard Kukulcan or floating in the lagoon. I didn’t know what to expect at The Royal Cancun but when I reached the resort my spirits lifted. There was some damage and the beachfront villas on the lower levels were flooded by the storm surge but it was nothing compared to the destruction that I had seen on my way to work. We all pitched in to clean up and carry out repairs immediately.”
Two weeks after the storm, Mirna was transferred to The Royal Caribbean to start a new job as Resort Housekeeper. She was in charge of Housekeeping at The Royal Caribbean for 14 years and in 2002, was promoted to the post of Executive Housekeeper with overall responsibility for The Royal Cancun, The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean, The Royal Islander and The Royal Sands. She says, “I had to face many challenges along the way but I always consider them an opportunity to learn and grow professionally and personally.
“There are currently around 400 staff in the Housekeeping and Laundry departments,” says Mirna. “They all know that my door is always open for them whenever they need help or advice. I value each and every one of them; they are the backbone of the company. Some of the cleaning stewards that work in the guest areas of the resort are so very young that it makes me feel protective of them, especially when I hear about their lives.”
Mirna has balanced the demands of her career with family life. She met her husband in 1987 when they were both working at The Royal Cancun and they have two daughters, both university students. She reflects, “My job is demanding and stressful with a lot of responsibility. When my girls were younger, my Mom and one of my sisters helped look after them when I had to work.”
On some of the changes that she has seen in her job over 40 years, Mirna says, “ I think that the growth of the company has obliged us to implement new processes and standards over the years so that we stay at the forefront of the industry and offer the level of service, comfort and hospitality that our guests deserve. We are in constant evolution, for example, we switched cleaning products, soaps, polishes and varnishes for green alternatives to help protect the planet. We have reduced our use of chlorine. We use a nature-friendly paint on the cribs, recycled paper for room stationery and of course we recycle plastic, glass, aluminum and cardboard trash.”
From meetings with the Housekeepers at the resorts to budget reviews with Management, linen and appliance purchases, coordinating training needs and monitoring guest satisfaction and comments, Mirna’s day is always busy. She keeps an eye on standards and looks for ways to make members and guests more comfortable. She handles villa renovation programs such as the one underway at The Royal Sands, working with suppliers and helping select fabrics, color schemes and accessories. And in late November she oversees teams of Housekeeping staff as they decorate the resorts for Christmas.
On seeing staff follow in her footsteps Mirna says, “I love seeing members of my team become supervisors or managers or make their career in other areas of the company. I feel happy for them and proud that they started with me and have taken advantage of the training opportunities available.
“I would like to thank my team for their enthusiasm, commitment and for all their hard work. To recent recruits I would say that Royal Resorts offers them many opportunities and in order to be successful they need to be service-oriented, responsible and very meticulous, always seeking perfection in everything they do. And I urge them to sign up for training courses, computing and English workshops. They can even complete their primary, secondary and senior high school education if they were unable to finish school.
“My message to our members and guests is to thank them for their loyalty to the company and their affection for the employees. Thank you for choosing Royal Resorts as your Mexican Caribbean home away from home. I will always be grateful for the opportunities I have had here and for the chance to innovate and improve the services we offer you.
“Royal Resorts means so much to me. I have grown with the company, professionally and personally. It‘s been a huge part of my life for such a long time.
“I thank the Royal Resorts Directors for giving me the opportunity and for having confidence in me. They shared their vision of excellence and they have always placed great emphasis on training and the value and importance of the staff. Despite the size of Royal Resorts, you can still feel the warmth and the community spirit that began in the early days at The Royal Cancun.”
Mirna concluded by saying, “Looking back at my 40 years at Royal Resorts, I feel really happy and lucky to have everything I have, my family and my job. Professionally, it has been 40 years of success, full of immense satisfaction and opportunities for learning. I have enjoyed every day; in fact it doesn’t feel like 40 years because I love what I do so much. I hope to carry on for many more.”
Congratulations to Mirna Pech on her amazing career. She truly is a Royal Resorts treasure.