Aqua Resort Club, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, also boasts of a number of employees who are also marking their personal milestone with ARC and are considered part of the history of the resort itself. Consider the case of assistant general manager Sachiko Mafnas.
Mafnas, who is from Tokyo, Japan, started work at ARC in 1999. “A friend introduced me to the previous general manager and that was when I was offered a job at Aqua.”
She started out at as guest relations officer, rose to become Rooms Division manager, then director of operations, and now assistant general manager.
After 20 years with Aqua Resort Club, the hotel has become Mafnas’ second home and the people she works with have become her second family.
“The staff are all very close-knit and that makes it exciting to come to work everyday. …The people, staff, and regular guests are like family to me,” she said.
The CNMI’s changing economy over the years and the varied challenges that has beset the tourism industry do present many challenges but “we are always flexible and ready to make adjustments to solve these issues,” Mafnas said.
Speaking from a 20-year perspective, Mafnas described the parent company of Aqua Resort Club, Ken Corp., as an exciting company to work for, growing as an international hotelier with properties in Japan, Okinawa, Guam, the United States, and Saipan. “We hope to continue the great service and hospitality that has always made Aqua Resort Club Saipan a Grade-A hotel,” Mafnas added.
Another ARC employee with a lengthy track record is Food & Beverage assistant manager Ann Razon, who is from Pampanga, the Philippines. She started work at Aqua Resort Club in 2003. She said she had always wanted to work at Aqua Resort Club and that happened when her former supervisor at the La Fiesta Mall recommended her to the previous general manager of ARC.
She said that working for 16 years in the same hotel went by without her noticing it. “I always look forward to coming to work and to meet new guests. There was always something new every day and we would encounter unexpected situations and challenges.
“It helps that employees are very close and work together to find solutions because guest satisfaction is our priority,” she added.
Razon takes pride in the caliber of their service, saying many regular guests go to Aqua Resort Club just to see the staff.
“We focus on making connections with our guests so they always feel welcomed in a family atmosphere. Even the kids of the repeater guests have grown up knowing us over the years. …I hope to serve the community and guests for many more years. We hope to [maintain] our hospitality and personal touch, which has always been Aqua’s signature,” she said.
Entertainer Bobby Prado and accounting night auditor Nela Prado not only found jobs when they both started working at ARC in 1990. They also found each other and fell in love.
The couple, who are both from the Philippines, said that even though they are far from home, the staff and atmosphere at ARC makes them feel close to home.
“We are always excited to entertain people and make guests smile. …Everyone is like family to us here,” said Bobby Prado.
“Since we started working at Aqua Resort Club, being accommodating and hospitable have become part of our identity. We focus on always giving quality service to everyone equally. …The fact that we are still here shows how strong our connection with ARC is,” they added.
Last year, like many other employers in the Commonwealth, CW issues plagued the hotel but the Prados said the Aqua Resort Club management was supportive. “They helped us with the smooth processing of our necessary documents. …The benefits are great and we always feel secure in our jobs.”
Jacob Quitugua, who hails from Saipan, currently works at the resort’s Accounting Department but has also been the resort’s driver, bellman, and lifeguard since he started working at Aqua Resort Club in 2009.
“I love it here because the working environment is good,” he said. “The work ethic here has taught me to become more responsible and accommodating. …The company is very humble with their management of the staff and help us and our families when we are in need.”
Razon said as much, saying that Aqua Resort Club “really takes care of their employees because they help you grow, develop, and succeed. All of the management is very helpful and open.”
Another asset at the accounting department is Belle Gonzalez from the Philippines, who has been with Aqua Resort Club since 1995. “Aqua Resort Club has been my home for the past 24 years. …I always look forward to new things here every day.”
She sees every day as a new chance to improve oneself. There are many tough deadlines, but everyone is helpful and we all work together…as a team,” she said. “…The management is firm but fair and understanding…and this is very evident, especially after the recent typhoons where they provided us with monetary assistance, shelter, food, water, and other necessities.”
There is no higher praise than for Gonzalez to describe her co-employees as “like a family.”
“Everyone is friendly and the atmosphere is peaceful,” she added.