I’m sitting here looking at my wall, it has a framed picture of my company’s core values. Oftentimes, the principles such as ‘Commitment’ & ‘Passion’ stand out. However, the words ‘ADAPTABLE/FLEXIBLE’ shine through today. I didn’t really think about the significance of those words earlier because in hospitality we are constantly changing hats. It’s natural to be prepared for whatever gets thrown our way, especially in operations. We added ‘Adaptable’ to our core values without much thought, bearing in mind that it was a given. Right about now, those words mean so much…

The hospitality industry, including Palette Hotels Developments Hotel Management Company based in El Paso, has been ravaged by Covid-19. Occupancy has decreased to the lowest I could have ever imagined. Not to mention STR reports as they look increasingly grim. Operationally everything is different. It’s hard to fathom how at this time last year, we were working on budgets and compiling our Capital wish list for the new year. I can look back to when the discussions were about increasing GOP and nailing down top line revenue. To say the least, the budgeting process was exhausting but invigorating. Now, I try to grapple with the new norm of ensuring that our associates are wearing masks, we’re installing sanitizing stations and making sure payrolls are within that break-even range. I sit here wondering what the goals should be as we move into the unforeseeable future. The one thing that is irrefutable is that the hospitality industry has forever changed. The definition of the word adaptable is able to adjust to new conditions or able to be modified for a new use or purpose. Yes, we’ve changed the way we operate our hotels. Rooms are cleaned with heightened safety protocols; social distancing stickers outline the front desk and breakfast buffets are memories of the past. Web-Ex and Zoom are the norm as communication tools and temperature checks are required during each shift. Our new mantra?


The future is uncertain, but what is certain is that the adaptability of the human spirit to do what it takes to survive. Darwin presumably quoted, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the most adaptable to change.” I see it today when I look at the smiling eyes of our masked associates performing job duties that were not outlined in the past. I can touch it when I’m in any of our electro-static sprayed hotel guest rooms. I can taste it when I’m looking at a disposable menu and readying myself for lunch in one of our restaurants. Most importantly, I can feel the drive that the Palette Hotels General Managers possess as they ensure they do what is necessary to take care of the owner’s assets during this pandemic. They are working numerous departments; from front desk shifts, cleaning rooms, changing out light bulbs, responding to reviews, corporate administration work and most importantly dealing with guests (happy or unfortunately, unhappy) – all on a skeletal crew.


As V.P. of Operations at Palette Hotels Developments Hotel Management Company, I am heartbroken at what this pandemic has done to the industry, however, within the same vein I’m astounded at the ability to stay resilient. Yes, there will be changes but the feeling of uneasiness lessens. The prediction is that it will get worse before it gets better and when it does get better, my Palette Hotels associates will be ready to embrace the change once again.


Written by Vicki Castellanos, Vice President of Operations at Palette Hotels Developments

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