The Washington Times - October 6, 2008, 08:51PM

by Julie Schwietert Collazo, The Collazo Project

I’m not one to get excited about hotels. A past job had me sleeping on a different mattress in a different city every night, and one hotel became as indistinguishable as the next.

The more hotels I stayed in, the more I yearned for my own bed at home: no one would knock on the door and then enter (even if it was to clean up after me. No phone would ring at 6 AM with a wake-up call intended for someone else.


And no one would say “Good morning” with the forced politeness required of hospitality industry employees.

Hotel Villa Ganz (Photo by Julie Schwietert Collazo)

I stayed in many hotels—from oceanfront presidential suites in high-end properties to low-budget deals with thin, plastic-wrapped mattresses and their own menageries of insect life—and gave up on the idea that a perfect lodging experience on the road was possible.

Fortunately, I’ve since had the opportunity to revise that judgment.

Hotel Villa Ganz in Guadalajara, Mexico, is everything a hotel should be. The staff are genuine in their friendliness and helpfulness, and they are deeply knowledgeable about Guadalajara’s history, sites, and cuisine. The reason they’re so well-informed is thanks to the attention and effort of co-owner Sally Rangel, a native of Guadalajara who loves her city and who has trained her staff in the art of exceptional guest service.

In addition to hiring employees who have friendly personalities, Rangel provides ongoing orientation to constantly expose employees to hospitality experiences that improve their own concept of service. She takes them out to eat at Guadalajara’s best restaurants so they can make recommendations to guests based on their own experiences. She sends them to other inns and hotels around the country so they can witness first-hand what it’s like to be treated well—or poorly—as a guest.

She also makes sure the staff eat a meal together each day. Over a lunch of sopes (small tortillas smothered with a smattering of beef, cheese, and salsa) and tortilla soup, I see how the employees care for one another and enjoy each other’s company.

They’ve built authentic relationships, another secret, I’m convinced, to Villa Ganz’s exceptional service.

Hotel Ganz Lobby (Photo by Julie Schwietert Collazo)
Hotel Villa Ganz is a nine room inn located in a restored villa where no detail is overlooked. The inn is furnished with Mexican antiques and each of the spacious rooms—small apartments, really—are comfortable and welcoming. Rangel’s partner personally inspects the suites and the grounds each day.

“He’ll even sit on the toilet,” one employee confided, “to make sure that the seat is on right.”

The genuine warmth of Villa Ganz’s hospitality and the well-kept inn would be enough to make me a happy and satisfied guest, but additional touches made me wish I could move right in and call Villa Ganz home.

The garden, lush with guava, hibiscus, and other plants, is quiet and relaxing.

The meals made by the inn’s private chef are exceptional—the cream of basil soup, for instance, unexpected and smooth.

And 8 PM is a magical hour at Villa Ganz, as the staff light candles inside and out on the patio and garden, casting a soft, warm light around the inn. Rangel and her staff have cultivated relationships with tour operators, car service companies, and local businesses to provide a seamless, effortless visit, and they will accommodate almost any reasonable request.

Villa Ganz has hosted some of the world’s best-loved celebrities and musicians, including Carlos Santana and the late Celia Cruz, and has been featured on the Travel Channel’s popular show, “Samantha Brown’s Passport to Great Weekends.”

Hotel Villa Ganz Guestroom (Photo by Julie Schwietert Collazo)

But every guest is treated with the same respect and professionalism, with an emphasis on service that is likely to redefine your expectations about travel lodging.

Hotel Villa Ganz
Lopez Cotilla #1739
Colonia Lafayette 44140
Guadlajara, Jalisco
5233 3120 1416