Finds The Hotel Business Can Be Fun!
By Pat Tyson
In addition to the traditional responsibilities of a General Manager, Raul Petraglia, Managing Director of ME Cabo, must be involved in every aspect of the customer’s experience. This includes music, décor, service, gastronomy, mixology, marketing, public relations – besides the many other tasks that are required to provide comfort and satisfaction for the resort’s guests.
“My philosophy is that the hotel business can be fun for both customers and associates,” he explains. “And, at ME, we give space for the individual’s personality to shine.”
Petraglia also believes that tourism needs to be aligned with a sustainable vision. Local culture should be highlighted, local producers promoted, and a dialogue developed with new generations – everything that was kept in mind when defining the new ME Cabo.
“It is very easy,” he asserts. “We have a very unique destination, we offer the most outstanding hotels and services, as well as high quality products. We must focus on promoting what we have – and be proud of it!” He empathizes that the luxurious aspirations of Cabo have to be preserved. Although, as he states, he is not an expert in the field of security, he also understands that it should be a shared responsibility; he sees a great commitment necessary on the part of everyone involved.
Although Petraglia began pursuing a career by studying law in Argentina, his plans drastically changed when his parents decided to move to Spain and he went along, too. For some months he traveled with them, originally to help in a new family project. In the process he says he “fell in love” with tourism, beginning with arranging entertainment in the hotel business. For a few years he was, in this capacity, in charge of assembling live shows for a couple of hotels in Spain that had huge programs featuring bands and entertainers.
“It was fun!” he exclaims. And, during periods when he wasn’t working in this position, he took two-month internships in different departments and started to assist general managers in their numerous duties for a few seasons. “Then MHI invited me to be part of the creation of the first Paradisus Hotel in Cozumel and to begin my PDI (a training program for future general managers). It was this opportunity that took me to America, Cozumel, Cancun and Venezuela,” he explains.
At this point he discovered that the experience of hotel operations was the direction his career should take. It developed in him a passion for details and seeing the hotel as a whole integrated entity. He credits Eberhart Linke, the general manager of Gran Melia Caracas, for guidance at that time. Following taking a general managers program at Cornell in 2001, he moved to Cabo and became enamored with Baja.
In 2005, the concept of what the ME brand is today was developed when Melia San Lucas, an old Mexican style hacienda, evolved into ME Cabo, a vibrant contemporary resort. Then followed the opportunity for Petraglia to transform ME Cancun into the first All-Inclusive Lifestyle hotel, creating a unique experience-driven concept.
“I was truly lucky when, one year ago, MHI and Grupo Questro proposed me to be in charge, again, of the full remodeling of ME Cabo,” he says. “I am so happy and proud of this team. Both the forecast and outcome for this property are outstanding – and the best is yet to come!” And whom does he consider most influential upon his success in life?
“Probably my parents,” is his reply. “They made me think ‘outside the box’ and to see things from a different perspective, to appreciate nature, to be honest and respectful – and to ask for the same in return. My father, especially, has always been a great inspiration to me. I draw from his creativity and drive to create my own successes.” As for what he loves most about Baja California Sur, he lists his favorites.
“Nature, Nature, Nature; quality of life, and the people who live here!” he declares. For food he says his favorite is Chiles en Nogada. In music the song he loves is “Si Nos Dejan.” And for favorite places outside Baja he chooses Tulum and San Miguel de Allende. Having been recently transplanted back to Cabo from Cancun, Petraglia discusses why he elected to return.
“I love to spend time by the beach, practicing Yoga and reading,” he says. “I discovered a beautiful Yoga retreat in Cerritos and a Buddhist Center up in the mountains that have been great weekend getaways. I also enjoy full moon dinners at the Huerta Los Tamarindos. Cabo has some incredible hidden treasures and, of course,” he adds with a laugh, “ME Cabo and its associates!”
The prospects for development of Cabo is incredible, Petraglia predicts. His concerns lie in the fact that it is necessary to respect nature and have a sustaining growth.
“Cabo has always had a special place in my heart,” he adds. “I lived here for twelve years the first time and loved every minute of it: the beauty that the landscape has to offer, the climate, the people. Coming back has been a gift from life; I have rediscovered all of its beauty as well as the immense sense of peace that this magical place has to offer.”