Behind the Solmar Scene

Playa Grande panoramic view Solmar logo

This is the second post in “The Other Side of the Peso’s” Cabo Series.

Playa Grande

Playa Grande

Last week’s post, Cabo History 101, summarized some of the successes of Don Luis Bulnes Molleda, founder of Solmar Hotels and Resorts which include The Ridge at Playa Grande, a sprawling resort that attracts national and international travelers. There is an abundance of meandering pools, most for humans, some for fish and turtles. There’s no shortage of places to get food and drink, from a Starbucks cart to a fancy restaurant. The views are stunning, the abundant gardens impeccable and the service outstanding. How does a mega resort train so many employees and keep them happy? Come take a peek behind the scenes.

Ana Magallón Farías from Acapulco, Guerrero

Ana Magallón Farías from Acapulco, Guerrero

The first morning my husband and I ate breakfast at the resort’s beach front restaurant. Since all Playa Grande employees sport name tags that include their home state, we mentioned to our server, Ana from Guerrero, that we had noticed how many people in Cabo seemed to come from elsewhere. 

“There are jobs, it’s relatively safe here and the pay is good,” Ana explains. As she came and went, we learned that Solmar offers employees classes in English, education through high school, and training for professional advancement. “It’s up to each person and his or her motivation to pursue these opportunities. I took the niñera class and I’m now certified to do daycare/babysitting in addition to my restaurant duties.”

Daniel Tijerina from Monterrey

Daniel Tijerina from Monterrey

Two hours later, I’ve found the Solmar Corporate offices and Daniel Tijerina, Manager of Human Development and Training, who hails from Monterrey. Tall and confident, Tijerina wears a long-sleeved dress shirt and slacks, a stark contrast with the tourists who stroll through the elegant lobby of Playa Grande in shorts and flip-flops.

Regarding the large number of employees from outside, Tijerina explains, “It’s a combination of factors. Here in Cabo, we’re very fortunate in that we haven’t experienced nearly as much of the insecurity that has hit much of the rest of the country so hard. It has caused a real drop in tourism in places that have a long history in the industry and a population well-prepared for the kind of jobs we have here. These days, those people want to live in Cabo.”

Distintivo H Award

Distintivo H Award

I ask questions, and Tijerina effortlessly reels off numbers and information. In addition to five hotels and three independent restaurants, Solmar includes a foundation, a bakery, a meat department, a greenhouse and a garage for vehicle maintenance and repairs. There are 1300 “collaborators,” as employees are called, who all work full-time, meaning eight hours a day, six days a week. Solmar has earned the “Distintivo H Award,” Tijerina says with pride and explains that this is a recognition from the federal government for exceptionally high standards in hygiene and handling of food and for improving the image of Mexico in the international community.

Regarding what the company offers employees, Solmar holds celebrations like traditional posada celebrations before Christmas for employees. There are dinners where seniority milestones are recognized. Employees can eat in company dining halls, and private Solmar buses transport workers from their neighborhoods to the resorts. There are scholarships for those who take “external” classes not offered by Solmar. There is help for employees to qualify for Infonavit, the government program which makes it possible for many Mexicans to buy their first home.

Solmar classroom

Solmar classroom

Employees who take advantage of classes on and off site, are paid for their time. The walls in Tijerina’s office are covered with schedules, including the current one for eight levels of English taught by two full-time teachers. The back side lists professional training classes with options like “Microsoft Excel Data Base” (two hours) and  “Exotic Coconut and Mild Ritual Wrap” (five hours). Of course, taking a class or earning a certificate, doesn’t guarantee a job. “At the moment, we have some forty people interning,” Tijerina says. “When a position does open up, the intern will often step into it. If not, he has learned a new skill and can continue building on that.”

Next door to Tijerina’s office is one of the classrooms where several rows of tables are lined with computers. We peek through the glass doors of a second room where a class is in session, and the students are so engaged they don’t seem to notice us.

By the time I bid Tijerina good-bye, I have one hour before the next interview at an orphanage. There won’t be any time for the beach today.     

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