When did you open Granada Beach Resort and what inspired you to do so?
Granada Beach Resort has been operating since 2007. We took over the business in November 2019. We both had successful corporate careers (not in hospitality), but dreamed of working for ourselves using all the experience we had gained.
What do you love most about Granada Beach Resort?
Granada gives you permission to be selfish and to be kind to yourself. It is intimate and breathtaking. Staring at the ocean allows you to free your mind, relax and be ‘in the moment’. That’s why our ethos is “escape, explore, experience.”
What has been the most rewarding part of opening Granada Beach Resort?
Without a doubt, having the freedom to experiment and try new ideas. In a corporate culture, creativity is often stifled for the sake of maintaining a status quo. When you run your own business, you have the freedom to try new ideas. If they work, great. If they fail, then make some adjustments and try again.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
Like all global tourism establishments, we took a major hit when borders closed due to the pandemic. A lockdown was announced in our area, and we had 10 stranded foreign tourists staying at the resort. All our staff had to remain at home. We didn’t have time to think and plan; we simply went into auto-pilot. We lived at the resort for three months to be with the guests. We looked after them as if they were our guests at home. This approach became our way of managing the resort post-lockdown. Domestic tourists who have experienced our hospitality appreciate this style. They have become regular guests, returning time after time, and have spread the word about Granada. This has helped us to stay afloat during pandemic.
Tell us about your team!
Most of our team were born and raised in the area. They are kind and eager to please. We have used our professional experience to train them in customer experience, service and self-leadership. We want them to grow their skills and enhance their abilities. We believe in open communication, so we introduced weekly huddles to brief them on what’s going in the industry, and guide them towards our plans and priorities. We also conduct regular product knowledge and food-tasting sessions to ensure they are well acquainted with our standards, products and services.
How has Tab helped Granada Beach Resort?
Tab was a discovery we made during the pandemic lockdown. We were looking for a new payment provider after becoming disillusioned with our previous one. They had refunded guests without our consultation; their terms and conditions always overriding ours. Tab is designed for the tourism industry, which is very important to a small resort such as Granada. Tab offers the flexibility we needed, and allowed us to implement our terms and conditions to control the payment process.
What is your favorite feature that Tab offers? Why?
The ability to take card payments, rather than just issuing payment links, is probably our favourite feature. Once a guest has made a reservation, they frequently believe their booking is paid. They may not read the payment link message, forget to pay, or simply choose to delay payment. Rather than having to follow-up and remind the guest, we can easily take a card payment to guarantee the reservation.
Why would you recommend Tab to another business?
Tab’s business support is prompt and helpful. Our previous payment provider offered endless drop-down menu options for support. Requests were simply ignored or not answered correctly, and it was impossible to speak with anyone. With Tab, you actually communicate with a real person. The team at Tab are an oasis of human interaction in a barren desert of automated support.
Why is Oslob a great place to visit?
Southern Cebu should be on everyone’s list when they plan their Philippines holiday. We have the world-famous whale sharks experience, where you can swim with the gentle giants (please don’t touch them). Also, we have an abundance of waterfalls with milky-blue turquoise water. You can scramble, climb, cliff-jump, explore or simply cool-down in the refreshing pools. At Granada, we have our own reef, with resident turtles, where you can snorkel or learn to scuba dive. Life in Oslob is simple but the culture is rich in heritage. The locals are gentle and welcoming. Spend two or three days here, then head off to continue your holiday on some of the Philippines’ other 7,000 islands.
How has your business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our first five months were very successful. 95% of our guests were overseas visitors to the Philippines. When the pandemic began we were hit by cancellations, refunds and no reservations. Once our stranded tourists had returned home on rescue flights, we had 6 months without any guests. We used the time to re-develop the F&B offering we had inherited. We refurbished every room. We implemented new processes. We recruited and trained new team members. We rebuilt our kitchen. We re-designed our website and were-branded. Once we reopened, Granada had undergone a huge transformation, which is something we could not have achieved so quickly if we had been fully operational.
We are still challenged by the pandemic. Recently, we were hit harder by a super typhoon that devastated many areas in the Philippines. We temporarily closed for 7 weeks as there was no water, electricity and phone signal. Instead of festivities, we spent Christmas and New Year cleaning-up and doing repairs.
We believe that 2022 will see an end to the disruptions of the last two years. There should be a rebound in international tourism now that the Philippines government has announced the re-opening of borders to fully-vaccinated foreign tourists from 1 February. Hopefully, this will steer the industry in the right direction.
What is your advice for someone looking to start their own tourism business?
The first difficult question you need to ask ourself is “why do I want to do this business?” If you can answer that with overwhelming passion, the rest will fall into place. It is definitely hard work – especially during a pandemic - but your dream deserves all that hard work. Being your own boss drives you to make each day count.
You can find out more about Granada Beach Resort on their website at granadabeachresort.com.