March 2001, and the leader of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Gang was on the run. Tipped off about a pending weapons and narcotics raid at the Hell’s Angels headquarters up in Canada, and wanted for 13 counts of 1st degree murder, he had disappeared the day before the raid, and, naturally, turned up at my hotel at the time, a luxurious 5-star resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. So much for what we see on TV!
It was an otherwise quiet day when one of my front desk GSA’s poked her head into my office. “Boss, there are some gentlemen at the front desk who want to speak with you; they say they’re with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.” So out to the lobby I went, expecting to see red jackets and horses, and was disappointed to instead be greeted by 2 non-uniformed Canadian gentlemen with identification. And two MASSIVE Jamaicans both wearing brightly colored, matching flower print shirts, khaki pants, and sunglasses.
“We are being assisted on this investigation by our compatriots in the Jamaican Police force” mentioned the Canadians, gesturing to the two poorly camouflaged technicolor giants, who comically added in unison, “Undercover”.
I was informed that they were looking for a guest by the name of “Mr. S”, who they believed had arrived yesterday. A quick check of the computer showed that yes indeed, we had a Mr. S registered as a guest, and a quick walk down the hall revealed that no, he was not currently in his room.
After spreading the word to my team to join the hunt, we found a match; an 11 am booking at the Salon at our Spa. Could it be that our biker had booked a manicure? But upon arriving at the Spa, we discovered that it was not him, but rather his girlfriend who booked the treatment. You can imagine her surprise when she looked up and saw the five of us surrounding her.
“He told me he was going out to the pool” she eventually stammered, and before I could say “Canuck”, the Mounties were on their way to the sprawling pool deck at the center lawn of the hotel, with the 2 local giants and me in tow.
Now there is something I need to explain before we go any further: 5-Star resort guests LOVE their pools, often even more than the beach. And in Jamaica, we had an amazing pool, curvy and voluptuous, just like the 300+ tanned vacationers who were lounging around it that morning, soaking in the warm Caribbean sunshine.
But this was also the problem: how would we know which guest was Mr. S? Did the Canadian police plan to go chair to chair and ask “Hi, are you with the Hell’s Angels?” Many awful, complaint-inducing scenarios flashed through my mind, but upon arriving poolside, it became clear that there was no real reason for concern.
You see, lying face down on a pool chair amidst the hundreds of beautiful people in their white and pastel bikinis, was one long-haired gentleman who caught our eye. No master of disguise, he was wearing frayed jeans, and his back and arms were blanketed in green tattoos. This had to be our biker, and the Canadians made a beeline for him.
“Mr. S?” they barked, and as the bearded face turned and looked up, the two Jamaicans pushed him down onto the poolchair, handcuffed him behind his back, hauled him onto his feet, and marched him away, as hundreds of stunned hotel guests looked on in silence, some frozen in strange positions during their “pool yoga” class.
As I watched this spectacle unfold in awe, one of the guests leaned over to me, lowered his designer sunglasses, and quietly asked, “Hey, what did THAT guy do?” And with a straight face and without missing a beat, I quipped.
“Oh, that guy complained a little too much about his room.” And I just walked away. And for the rest of that week we didn’t have a single complaint; the entire resort was somehow … perfect.
About the author
Steve Cokkinias is the Founder & CEO of InnSense Leadership (www.innsense.com) which he established in 2012 after a successful 17-year career in the hospitality industry that included senior positions with Ritz-Carlton, Westin, and Sheraton in the U.S.A, Caribbean, and Asia. An inspiring and sought-after speaker and executive coach, Steve has delivered energizing programs on service, leadership, and talent management to a wide range of international companies. During his 9 years as General Manager in Kuala Lumpur, his hotel was named "Best Employer in Malaysia" 4 times consecutively by Hewitt & Associates, earning him a place on Human Capital Asia's "Hot 40 - Asia's H.R. Superstars". In 2010, Steve was named Malaysia's "General Manager of the Year" by the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards. His new book, "InnSanity - Leadership Lessons from a Lifetime in Luxury Lodging", is due for release in early 2013. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow Steve on Twitter: @stevecokkinias.