As I drove into Cap Juluca a week ago, I could not help but marvel as I always do at how beautiful the drive to this hotel is. I love the pond and the foliage and the sense of being transported to somewhere new even before seeing the hotel. My trip to Cap Juluca was not just for pleasure though. I was attending a menu tasting at Spice restaurant which was organized specifically for the taxi drivers in Anguilla.
Many of the taxi drivers were already there when I arrived. They were sitting and talking with each other and members of staff. The settings and décor at Spice Restaurant invite relaxation and conversation. I ordered a drink and quickly joined the conversation.
I spoke first to Alson Gumbs and Louis Hodge who are both based primarily at Cap Juluca. This means that they mostly interact with guests at Cap Juluca while providing their taxi services. They both agreed that so far the tourism season had been good.
Our conversation was soon interrupted as menu items came out of the kitchen. The men were already eating a salad and I tried the lobster bisque which was delicious. I soon excused myself to capture the beautiful view from the restaurant as the sunlight was fading fast.
Kevin Carty, who is the Operations Manager at Cap Juluca came outside as well and we talked some more about the new menus and the purpose of the event.
All three restaurants at Cap Juluca have new menus. The new menu at Spice is primarily Mediterranean cuisine but with an Anguillian twist. Mr. Carty stated that so far the menu has been well received and the feedback has been very positive. The taxi drivers were invited to taste the menu as their opinion is very important to guests. Kevin shared that the industry is competitive and he and his staff recognize that they must bring an ‘A’ game all the time. He stated that the food however is only 50% of the experience. I agreed completely when he said ‘Good service can make up for a bad meal but a good meal can never make up for bad service.’
At Cap Juluca, staff is encouraged to bring their own personality. The smiles are real as they are not tied to a script. Mr. Carty reiterated that most people would rather have a badly made drink and a good conversation. He pointed out that they pay special attention to locals recognizing how important they are to the success of the restaurants. He stated once again that the support of taxi drivers is critical for any hotel or restaurant.
When I returned indoors I enjoyed some other delicious dishes including the lamb. I was also presented with a small gift of a cap as were all the taxi drivers. They are wearing their new caps in the photos.
Mr. Carty then said a few words to the taxi drivers as many of them had early evening appointments. His gracious and down to earth words are below.
‘Thanks for coming. As you know, you are the cornerstone of this whole industry, the first ambassadors, the key sales personnel. The guests have more confidence in their taxi drivers than probably anybody else. You know that there are repeat guests who have been coming to Anguilla for 10 or 20 years and they always come to you and your opinion matters. It matters to the guest and it matters to us. Your opinion matters. When a guest comes to Anguilla and they do not know anything, who are they going to trust? When you come to CapJuluca and you talk to Kevin, Kevin wants to sell Cap Juluca but a taxi driver is an independently employed man or woman, his own boss, not owned by anyone. You are under no obligation to sell any property, if you do not think it is good. So your opinion is always valued because it is always truthful. This is why we wanted you here to experience our new menu for yourself and if you think it is good, you will say so and if you don’t you will not say anything. Thanks to everyone for coming and enjoy the dishes as they continue to come out. ‘
The taxi drivers responded enthusiastically to Mr. Carty’s words. A delicious dessert was then served.
I took a few minutes then to talk to Teddy, perhaps one of the most well-known taxi drivers in Anguilla. Teddy has been a taxi driver for 21 years and loves his job. He shared that he liked being a taxi driver because it opened him up to new experiences and people who make him smarter as he is constantly talking to people and learning new things which impact all aspects of his life.
Teddy has built strong relationships with many of Anguilla’s repeat clientele. His customers call him regularly to find out if he is OK, send him gifts and provide big tips. It was obvious I was speaking to a man who loved the job and also loved people.
I also spoke to Wendell Connor of Wendell’s taxi service and car rental who shared he was having the best season ever. He is the longest serving taxi driver who is currently active having served 42 years. Mr. Connor shared some of his best times as a taxi driver stating that he too has developed strong relationships with repeat customers and many of his customers have stayed with him over 15 to 20 years. He enjoys meeting people, talking with them and his taxi service also brings in business for his car rental.
The sun had set and guests were stating to enter Spice restaurant. All the taxi drivers had departed to provide their service which is so essential to the success of our tourism industry. They left with Cap Juluca on their mind. Perhaps they shared their experience with the guests they were collecting. Perhaps they were asked for a recommendation and recommended CapJuluca restaurant.
One thing is certain, Cap Juluca got it right. Our taxi drivers, others on the front lines and every Anguillian should truly be able to experience and share the Anguillian Experience with others. Try our restaurants, go the beach, enjoy the festivals, book a weekend stay at a hotel…enjoy all aspects of Anguilla. Anguilla is ours; we simply share it with the world.
Be sure to try the new menus at Spice, Pimms or Blue at Cap Juluca. See you there. Bon appetite!