Family-Owned Hotel Committed to Quality

July 29, 2005

SAN José’s Hotel 1492 Jade y Oro maybe small, but that doesn’t stop its ownersfrom having big aspirations.General Manager Paulo Vargas recentlyimplemented a quality-control systemwith hopes of allowing the hotel, in SanJosé’s Barrio Escalante, to compete at aninternational level.“The idea is that if we maintain ourhigh standards, when the big chain hotelsarrive we will be able to compete and notlet the competition destroy us,” saidVargas, son of owner Julio Vargas.At a recent reception, Hotel 1492 Jadey Oro celebrated both its 10th anniversaryand the completion of an eight-month pilotplan to improve quality through a newsoftware system and quality-assuranceprogram.VARGAS said he sees room forimprovement in the way many CentralAmerican hotels are currently managed.“The problem is that we’ve been bornout of experience, not from theory,” hesaid. “Now it’s time to apply some theory,too.”Vargas, who also works as an auditorimplementing quality-control programsin different types of businesses, wantedto apply his knowledge to his family’sbusiness.Using International Standards Organization(ISO) standards, he installed a softwaresystem that facilitates reservations,confirmations, check-in and checkout. Hesaid the system has been successful inreducing paper consumption, saving time,and minimizing loss of information andwrongly charging clients.The next phase of the project willinvolve sharing the system with four otherhotels: one in the port city of Limón, on theCaribbean coast, another in the Caribbean slopetown of Siquirres, and two others inSavegre and Jacó, both on the centralPacific coast. The properties all belong toCentral America Small Hotels.ORIGINALLY a family home, thebuilding that houses Hotel 1492 Jade y Orohas been in Vargas’ family since 1947. Dueto economic circumstances in the 1990s,the family was faced with the decision ofselling the house or renting it. Instead, theydecided to turn it into a hotel, said AmaliaJiménez, Vargas’ mother and wife of ownerJulio Vargas.“At that time there was a tourismboom, and Costa Rica came back to themap,” said Jiménez, a painter. “Therewere very few hotels in San José. Wedecided to create a small, European-stylehotel. This gives us the unique opportunityto share with our guests and give personalizedservice.”Jiménez’s pre-Columbian-style paintingsadorn the walls of the hotel, accentingthe red tile imported from Portugal.Her work, which has been featured inexhibits around Costa Rica as well as inthe United States and Europe, invokesimages of the sea, flowers and nature, anduses traditional symbols such as a froggoddess of fertility.A stay at Hotel 1492 Jade y Oroincludes complimentary breakfast and aglass of wine in the evening at the nearbySpanish tapas restaurant, Olio. Rooms aredecorated in the hotel’s signature Spanishcolonial style, and a small indoor gardenadds a natural touch. The hotel is atAvenida 1, Calles 31/33, in San José. Forreservations or information, call 256-5913, 225-3752 or 280-6265, or visitwww.hotel1492.com.

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