Hilton Los Cabos Offers Amazing Story of Resilience A Year After Hurricane Odile
All photos courtesy of Hilton Los Cabos
The Hilton Los Cabos is back up and stunning.
It’s a fact that is no less than remarkable when you consider where this resplendent resort was just a year prior.
Despite Hurricane Odile bellowing nature’s awesome power onto the coastline, the staff and guests worked tirelessly to get this place and its team members back to a place of normalcy.
As you will soon see, they have all accomplished far more than that. The resort is gorgeous, more verdant and imbued with a new energy that you feel the minute you step out of your taxicab and into the outdoor lobby.
From the morning of Sept.15, 2014 until this past summer, staff and officials exhausted themselves to rebuild this resort. What they fashioned was far more impressive than a simple rebuild. They managed to carve out an immensely captivating story of perseverance, recovery and, well, family.
I was fortunate enough to share some moments with the Hilton Los Cabos staff, including general manager Tim Booth who welcomed myself and other members of the press on a week that would also mark the return of guests who endured the tumult of Odile a year prior.
I was just one person, walking amid plush halls and pristine walkways. The resort is already an amazing sight to behold, but then you hear about the incredible events that took place starting on Sept. 14, 2014.
As Booth proved, you can have a pretty good memory of how events unfold while battling Mother Nature, recalling that the night before the hurricane people met up to watch a Sunday Night Football game featuring the 49ers.
Well, I checked. And sure enough, that was the exact game on at the time—a losing effort to the Bears.
I can’t even remember what I did this past weekend. Then again, you seem to recall things when, as Booth would put it, the bar was “relocated” about three hours after the end of the game.
As Sunday night turned into Monday morning, the staff sprung into action, going from hospitality juggernauts into human heroes, squiring guests from rooms that were often times shut from the force of the wind to the ballroom that proved to be safe from the hurricane.
In fact, the Hilton Los Cabos happened to be considered by the Mexican government a hurricane safe haven prior to the storm. What we see in the events that unfolded back that distinction up rather well.
Perhaps it’s better to see and hear it for yourself with the following video, which illustrates the harrowing moments a giant storm rolled through a normally serene and calm oasis.
As you hear above and was relayed to me, there were indeed popsicles, a refreshing treat amid truly perilous circumstances. And there was breakfast the next day, unexpected nourishment for guests who had just been through an astounding experience.
For a moment it had to feel as though there was a sense of normalcy coming in tandem with the sunshine poking through previously angry clouds.
But that just wasn’t the case.
While I stood nearly a year later in a resort that showed no signs of devastation, the immediate aftermath meant a great deal of cleanup, construction and community outreach.
And the symbiotic relationship between hotel and guests continued, only the guests gladly chipped in, meandering into the fray with anything they could find to help.
That helped turn images such as this:
Into what guests would see on the resorts reopening in July. Here are just a few images of what the resort currently looks like.
As Booth states, it took four days to finally track down each of the resort's team members. Without streets or the usual infrastructure it “was literally the process of word of mouth.”
The devastation didn’t just mandate taking care of the Hilton property, but the team members who have come to be a sort of family.
As Booth states: “We had 100 to 150 team members and some of their family at the resort during that time. And a lot of them stayed with us for up to three months.”
The general manager recalls that about 100 rooms were completely destroyed with another 100 suffering significant damage.
Thankfully, about 100 remained that served as temporary housing for those who needed it.
But the selfless stories didn’t stop there.
Spa director Adriana Tello went from running a portion of the resort to commanding 200 men during reconstruction and recovery efforts.
Tello explained she was just “going with the flow of things.”
“What was needed, you did,” explained the spa director.
The Hilton Worldwide Responds Fund also chipped in to the tune of $500,000 as well as so much more.
The fund helped garner 12,000 bottles of water for team members, guests and other affected hotels; two months of groceries for over 500 people and aid to help rebuild the homes of 36 team members.
A press release states, “every one of the more than 350 team members kept their jobs and many were reskilled to help with the property rebuild.”
Again, it’s hard not to think of this as a well-oiled machine in need of repair and more of a family that simply went above and beyond for one another.
Some previously remarkable numbers are a bit easier to grasp when you hear this story. Booth offered, “We have very, very close to a 50 percent repeat guest ratio, which is unheard of. We have very close to a seven-year team member length of service, that’s also unheard of.”
It makes sense. At the risk of sounding sappy and dripping with cheese, this is more than a resort, something that becomes quite evident the second you check in, because you are greeted with genuine smiles and authentic warmth at every turn.
It’s simply incredible that a devastating hurricane was met with such resolve, that a resort is back up and running within a year.
It will be back to full strength in October, which is just mind-boggling when you consider the exhausting job that lay before team members after that fateful September morning.
Yet there are no magic tricks here. It’s just a byproduct of hard work from extraordinary people pitching in to resurrect an exceptional place.
I will be back with a part two to this coverage, sharing the experiences that will make your holiday a grand one at the reopened resort.
I thought it apropos to start with what has been an amazing year at Hilton Los Cabos, which now sits as a shrine to the human spirit, nestled beautifully off the Baja coast.
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