Amarillo B&B: The hostel everyone wants to visit again
Undoubtedly, some of the private ventures that have seen the best results in Cuba have been those related to hospitality. Amarillo B&B is one of the examples of this success, showing that a job well done will always offer positive results.
Saily González Velázquez is the owner of Amarillo B&B, the hostel located at No. 58, Lorda Street, between Independencia and Martí streets, in Santa Clara. This business opened its doors at the end of 2015, with a clear vision to stand out from the rest.
The guests who have benefited from the services of this hostel agree: “The place is essentially characterized by the good taste in the decoration and cleanliness that is apparent upon entering, in addition to the great service offered by the staff.”
This was exactly Saily’s intention when she decided to open the hostel: “I wanted to do something that I liked, that had nothing to do with the colonial, that was new, that’s why I opted for recycling. We used everything we had to make the house as charming as possible. We adapted it to our taste.”
“Currently, seven people work in the hostel, two girls who are in charge of cleaning the house, three guys who take care of receiving guests, my partner who is responsible for design and maintenance, and I take care of the customer service and marketing.”
This young entrepreneur says she feels a great responsibility for her workers, and offers them a living wage. “You have to act accordingly, you cannot think that the average Cuban worker earns a standard 750 pesos a month because that is not enough to live on, and for us it is essential to be able to guarantee a living wage that allows them to live decently.”
Responsibility is precisely one of the characteristics that marks Amarillo B&B, not only with the staff who work in the hostel, but also with state institutions.
“I think meeting tax responsibilities is perfectly possible,” Saily notes, “but they could be more so if tax issues were a little more grounded in the reality of tourism sector workers,” she adds.
However, in times of crisis the Cuban State has acted wisely, and in the face of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, it has exempted non-state sector workers from paying taxes.
That government decision was well received by Saily, who appreciates not having to pay off her bank credit at this time, since the amount is considerable. She took advantage of the credit possibilities offered to start her business and is still paying off the loan.
Amarillo B&B was receiving foreign guests right up until they stopped arriving due to the pandemic. As a sanitary measure in the face of COVID-19, the first measure taken was to boost the cleaning of the site with chlorine and guarantee the use of facemasks for all staff. But as the situation worsened, the hostel had to be closed.
However, Saily guaranteed wages for the months of March and April for her workers, for her the fairest way to help them in the face of the pandemic. “In March, we calculated an average of what we had earned in the high season, including that month, and in April we paid 60 percent of that salary,” she explained.
The experience of this Villa Clara resident was consolidated in 2016, when she participated in a massive meeting for young entrepreneurs from across Latin America in the United States; a program sponsored by the Obama Foundation and the U.S. State Department.
“I have to confess that on that occasion I learned a lot, but now there are many people talking about entrepreneurship in Cuba and I can assure you that they know a lot, they are at the level of the people I met and admired in that program.”
“Cuban entrepreneurs are learning a lot. My mission is also to support and help the development of entrepreneurship in Cuba. I have made a lot of links with colleagues from Havana and Villa Clara.”
Saily, who is a natural entrepreneur, also heads another business: FullGao. With this new job, she has managed to associate several hostels in his province and others in the rest of the country. She has put her knowledge to creating other businesses and has awarded online marketing the place it deserves today in the Cuban entrepreneurship ecosystem.