Since 1995, Paul F. Kok has been working at the Avila Hotel, a resort that stands out as a hotel with a special Caribbean flavor and intimacy, with beautiful landscaping and lush gardens, private beaches, and the personal touch of management and staff for which Paul is highly responsible. The main promotion of the hotel over the years has been by word of mouth via enthusiastic guests, which has resulted in a high number of repeat guests, including high ranking officials from the Dutch Government and CEO’s of companies from the Netherlands.
Paul Kok has also been active in community affairs and the tourism sector for Curaçao. He served on the Board of Directors of the Curaçao Hotel and Tourism Association (CHATA). In addition, he is chairman of the Curaçao Tourism Development Foundation (CTDF) and has been a trainer for United Nations Development Plan (UNDP).
The Avila Beach Hotel celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2014, with a tremendous guest response and several projects contributing to those in need in the hotel neighborhood.
Travel Research Online (TRO): At age 25, you graduated from the College for Hotel Management Maastricht, the Netherlands. What inspired you to pursue a degree in tourism?
Paul F. Kok (PAF): I really enjoy serving and helping people, and traveling to interesting destinations. This industry gave me the opportunity to do both. Curaçao is an inspiring place to live and work.
TRO: Throughout your career, you’ve worked for various prestigious tourism companies. How have your experiences with these companies prepared you for your current position with Avila Hotel?
PAF: It was a wonderful experience to see different companies and how they approach their operations. Smaller companies have a different approach. The cultural impact in different countries really has had an influence in my style of managing a company. It is rewarding to get the best out people and their culture; it enriches your life.
TRO: You’ve served as chairman board member for the Curaçao Tourism Development Foundation (CTDF) and on the Board of Directors for the Curaçao Hotel and Tourism Association (CHATA). In what ways has your participation in these organizations furthered your career in tourism?
PAF: You can’t tell if it furthered your career, but for sure it gives you board experience, also for the destination. It is an honor to work for the island and to market a destination. Raising awareness of the priorities of a destination always helps your own development.
TRO: What is the most important aspect of your job as General Manager?
PAF: Working with guests and our staff. Building strong relationships with the people that shape the business. Besides that, to work consistently on a sustainable future for the hotel and give talented colleagues a chance to grow is also very important.
TRO: Since you’ve been a part of Avila, in what ways have you seen the hotel grow and change? What are a few of the projects that have taken place over the years that you’ve overseen?
PAF: We grew from 80 to 100 to 160 rooms. The building of different new units, including a health spa, were important projects. Also, a rebranding of the organization and the introduction of quality management have made a difference.
TRO: What separates Avila Hotel from other hotels throughout the Caribbean?
PAF: It is a family hotel with special emphasis on culture and culinary events. Our dedicated and loyal staff, our unique service, and our special atmosphere sets Avila apart from our competitors.
TRO: What are some amenities offered that are unique to Avila? What attracts guests and travel agents to book a stay with your hotel?
PAF: The health spa, the beaches, the location of our hotel to the city, the Octagon Museum (history of Simon Bolivar), and our famous Schoonerbar all contribute to our success and the positive feedback from our visitors.
TRO: Avila recently celebrated its 65th Anniversary this past year. What kind of experience does Avila ensure to have kept its guests coming back after all of these years?
PAF: Guests keep returning because of our personal service and the special areas we create for our guests to enjoy on their vacation. The neighbourhood development has attracted new restaurants, and our local art collection and culinary events have attracted many new guests, as well.
TRO: Any new and exciting projects coming up for Avila Hotel that you want our readers to know about?
PAF: We are upgrading the public areas and our restaurants. The renovation of our suites is also an upcoming project in 2015.