Hotel Impossible

Season 2 Episode 1

Caribe Playa Beach Resort - Puerto Rico

Aired Tuesday 10:00 PM Dec 03, 2012 on Travel Channel

Episode Recap

George Engel, owner of the Caribe Playa Beach Resort in Patillas, owns a 32-room resort near San Juan. The owner purchased it in 1987 and it was doing well until 2006. Now it's going under and George needs Anthony's help to bail him out.

As Anthony drives in from San Juan Airport, he soon gets lost because the directions are incomprehensible. After an hour and a half he finally locates the resort and pulls in. The first thing Anthony does is go to the peach, ten steps away from the resort, and take in the view. However, the second thing he sees is garbage strewn all along the beach. The garbage can is rusted out and the patio furniture is covered in dirt. Anthony figures that the general manager doesn't have a system in place. He goes to the front desk and discovers that it also serves as a towel hamper... and lending library... and gift shop. Anthony points out to the front desk clerk, Meghan, that it's way too cluttered.

Next Anthony picks a deluxe room, Number 9, to inspect. The room goes for $135, but the door has no security latches which mean the AAA won't even give it a rating. The paint is bubbling off the ceiling and the painting frames have dust so old that it can't be rubbed off. The pillows don't have removable cases, which mean that they've never been washed. Anthony finds four hairs on the pillows and discovers that the room doesn't have any phones or hi-fi. Irritated, Anthony goes to the window and yells for help to see if anyone can hear him. No one does.

Anthony meets with George and the GM, Frances. The hotelier explains that he's been in business for twenty years, much to Anthony's surprise. He tells George and Frances what he's seen and asks what they're doing. When George makes excuses, Anthony says that they've been ignoring the problems and that they've been building for a long time. Frances says that they know they need to do something but don't know where to start, and Anthony is surprised since the GM is supposed to know those kinds of things. He gives them a report from a hotel check agent that he sent ahead and the man confirmed the same problems that he saw. Frances says that she wasn't there the day of the secret inspections and that her staff only gave him the basic introduction. Anthony asks if she knew what went on and the GM claims that she does, but Anthony doesn't believe her and says she's in denial. George finally explains that France is his wife and Anthony begins to realize where the problems really lie.

Since the front desk needs remodeling, Anthony calls in Blanche Garcia to help. She winces at the sight of the front desk and agrees that everything should be streamlined and functional Blanche finds a covered door that they can use to open up the area to the ocean view. She gets started but figures that Anthony wants more. He does, gives her the key to Room 9, and asks her to remodel it into a showcase room on the cheap. Blanche tells him that she'll bring in a crew to handle it.

Anthony pays the resort pool a visit next and is impressed with the poolside bar. However, there's no one there and Anthony calls George in. George admits that they don't provide a bar service and Anthony tells him that the bar supports the pool and the pool supports the room. If they can get people to the bar then they can raise the average rate and reverse the financial decline. George agrees to open the bar and admits that he's been making bad decisions, and Anthony gives him three days to straighten things out.

As Anthony goes to find Frances, he's gets an unexpected call... from George's son, Jonathan. Jonathan arranges an off-site meeting and tells Anthony that he worked at the resort as the GM until 2005. He resigned because Frances kept interfering and made it impossible for him to do his job. However, Jonathan doesn't believe that Frances is qualified to run the resort and that she's inadvertently destroying it. He insists that he's trying to help his father and even Frances by telling Anthony what's going on.

Back at the resort, Anthony talks to George and explains what Jonathan said to him. George admits that he knew what was going on but refused to get involved for fear of upsetting his wife. The owner accepts that he's letting his personal life interfere with his business, and warns that Frances isn't system-literate. Anthony says that he has to have a system, tells George what he has to do, and takes George to see Frances. George hesitantly tells her that he's letting her go but assures her that they're not blaming her. Frances breaks into tears and walks away, telling Anthony that he isn't nice.

Anthony follows Frances to where she's locked herself in the office. He finally convinces her to let him in but she refuses to let the cameras in. Anthony tries to talk her down but Frances thinks that George doesn't appreciate her. As George comes in, Anthony explains that he needs her to go so that he can save the hotel. George assures her that he still loves and respects her and hugs her as Anthony leaves them alone.

Next, Anthony checks on Blanche and her crew from Orlando Carlo Construction. The front desk work is going fine but Anthony isn't so happy with the hotel room. Blanche is using 2 x 4s and a liming treatment on the wall and Anthony admits that even though it doesn't look like much, he'll trust her judgment. Blanche assures him that George can easily duplicate the inexpensive remodeling process for the other rooms. Anthony then calls in Bob Murphy from DCI Telecommunications. Bob isn't thrilled to learn that he only has two days to set up the resort with a five-star hotel's communications infrastructure but tells Anthony that he'll bring in as many people as he has to.

George and Frances finally emerge from the office and Anthony confirms that they're doing better. He tells them that the next step is to find a general manager that can help them both out. Once Frances leaves to take a well-deserved break, Anthony has a screening company find three likely prospects and bring them in. After setting up a room with a variety of typical hotel problems, Anthony has each candidate check the room and list what they found after two minutes. Two candidates, William and Ronnie, find the most problems and Anthony then asks each one what they think are the two most important things to focus on. Ronnie believes that they're remodeling and staff, but Anthony figures he's focusing on things that cost too much. William wants to get the pool service running and clean up the resort, and Anthony realizes that he understands that he has to work with what he has. George agrees with Anthony's assessment and they give William a 30-day trial period. Anthony then has a challenge for both men: he tells them to prepare a reception for the next night with a full food and drink menu.

On Anthony's last day, he checks out Room Nine and thinks that the room looks nowhere close to completion. There are five hours left and Blanche assures him that everything will be done even though it looks like she just started. Anthony figures that she'll do her best and goes to see Frances. She's feeling much better and Anthony apologizes to her in Spanish when she provides some translation.

The rum company brings in the alcohol and everyone finishes their work. When the sun goes down, Anthony takes George and Frances to the front desk and shows them the remodeling worked. They're happy with the streamlined new setup and Blanche comes in with the contractor. The couple thanks them for their help and Blanche shows them that she set up a separate lending library in the next room. Next they go to the new room and Anthony explains that the American Hotel Register donated bedding for all 32 rooms. Blanche assures them that they can inexpensively remodel the other rooms using the same technique. Anthony shows off the phone and ends by showing them the two extra locks on the door.

Everyone goes to the pool where the guests have assembled and the area looks like an actual resort. William serves a grouper cerviche that he's created for the occasion and Anthony finishes by showing George and Frances their new website, complete with easy directions from the airport to the resort. Happy, the couple shares a toast with Anthony to their future and to success.

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