Playa Viva’s Power Couple: Eli & Serafin

Posted by Playa Viva on December 31, 2023

In an industry that so often puts hotel owners on a pedestal, Playa Viva puts its team front and center. To celebrate our 15th season we want to give you an insight into the heart of  Playa Viva. This month we are introducing you to Eli and Serafin, the ‘power couple’ of Playa Viva who manage our housekeeping & maintenance teams respectively.

David: When did you start working at Playa Viva (PV)?

Serafin: I joined PV right at the beginning when the land was being prepared for construction, a year before the hotel opened in 2007


David: What work did you do?

Serafin: I did everything. I started “mochando” vegetation, loosening sand, I actually dug the first hole for construction and then, as we progressed, I helped as a bricklayer and in carpentry working with bamboo. A little bit of everything, it really was all hands on deck during that first year, it still is really.  

David: And you Eli, when did you join the Playa Viva tean?

Eli: I started a month before the end of the first season. So I already have 14 complete seasons with Playa Viva and one month of the first. I started in the laundry which looked very different then. We had one machine but there was never enough solar power to run it so I had to take all the sheets back and forth to Petatlan which was far from ideal. 


David: I remember you told me after a few years that if a laundry wasn’t built in the next construction, you would leave Playa Viva.

Eli: Yes, it wasn’t efficient for me to be coming and going from Petatlan. Now we have a lovely laundry area with plenty of machines and drying lines that overlook the mountains and palm trees. It must be one of the most beautiful laundry room views in the world. So I got my wish and I am happy for my team to have that dedicated space

David: And your Serafin, you went from being a construction worker to what kind of job?

Serafin: I was a construction worker during the construction, from there they moved me to work in the maintenance team because Michel, PV’s architect, recommended me. I want to think that he liked my way of working, and could see my love for working with wood.

David: I remember what Michel told me is that “Serafín is the person you want in charge of maintenance because he knows everything. Serafin knows what you need before you need it.” That’s how you came recommended and has been our experience. Now I have a lot of confidence that when we ask you for some carpentry work, we know you will make a work of art, you do everything beautifully.

Serafin: I remember that the first year I struggled a lot with the way the team worked. I remember them telling me: I want this, and once it was done, they made me change it and do it another way. Now, I can skip that middle part because I know better how to anticipate the needs of the hotel. Little by little I am getting to know the needs of the project. When you work you learn and discover new things, these are things that time and dedication give you.

Eli: For me, I had never worked before. This is my first job, it just happens to have lasted 14+ years and I am now the manager of the housekeeping department. Currently, 10 people work with me. First, we were 3, then 5 and now we are 10, as the hotel grew, so did our laundry team. 

David: What attracted you to working at the hotel?

Eli: Well if I’m honest, initially it was the proximity to my home and that my husband worked here already, there was that safety net. I loved that the design concept being all wood, it is different from the other hotels in the region, which are all glass and concrete. Beyond the design, what makes me proud to work here is the concept the hotel has for caring for nature and the environment, how Playa Viva helps in the watershed because truthfully no one had cared about the communities before.


Serafin: I think that PV opened the doors for us to feel proud, and to be able to say that I belong to a company, to a project that benefits my community and where they let you realize your potential and discover beautiful things. Every time there is construction, I know that it is going to be hard work but it is nice to know that the more Playa Viva grows, the more impact and opportunities there are for other people in the community.

David: And now we have a second generation of locals working with us, including your son. Tell us how you feel about that?

Serafin: I remember that one day you called me on the radio and asked me how I felt working with my son… It’s something that I didn’t consider… but it’s very nice. When he started here he really was still a child in my eyes, but now I see him being part of this team and having an impact in the same way Eli and I have had and I realize he is a responsible young man.

Eli: I feel very proud and grateful that thanks to the work Playa Viva gave us he was able to study at the University in Petatlán and get his degree. He was the first in both our families to do so and won’t be the last, our daughter is now attending the same university and learning English. These are small things but we could have never imagined being able to have gone to university. Playa Viva has been our university/ life training. 

David: What does the community think of Playa Viva?

Eli: The community is very grateful to Playa Viva for helping, especially when it comes to education because the truth is that before many families did not have the resources to allow their children to stay in school beyond the age of 15, instead the boys would be sent to work and the girls sent to get married and begin their own family. But now thanks to the “Adopt a Student” program many children in the community have been provided with the funds, tools and support to be able to attend & finish high school and you can see the positive ripple effect of that daily. 

Serafin: Playa Viva is not just the hotel, Playa Viva is its surroundings. People recognize that Playa Viva has created a bridge between the community and the hotel and thanks to that all of the communities in some way or another have benefited from the project.


David: At what age did you start working in the fields Serafin?

Serafin: Where I grew up in Rancho Nuevo, as soon as you can handle a machete you start working. You leave school and go help your parents: work with firewood, tend to the crop… there is always something to do

David: So the ‘Adopt a Student’ program has made a difference?

Eli: It has made a huge amount of difference, from the moment they started supporting the individual students you could see the shift in the communities. There are fewer youths working in the fields, fewer girls getting married young and the children have higher expectations for their future prospects. You can also notice more pride in the children and a greater understanding of the environment and watershed thanks to all the volunteers teaching regenerative education, which really is a gift.

Serafin: We, in the communities, feel lucky that Playa Viva attracts people from all over Mexico and Internationally to come and support our children’s education. Over the years the children have created beautiful bonds with the impact team, especially Colleen, Ariel & Ximena, they are like idols in the community and for that we are fortunate. The fact that this is something Playa Viva has decided to take on, to create that bridge and help the communities to improve their situations is very nice.   

David: Wow, that is really special. Thank you for sharing all that. On a less serious note, we are asking everyone we interview the same question, “What is your favorite room?”

Serafin: Room 13. You feel different there, the architecture and being surrounded by bamboo is very unique. For me all the rooms are beautiful but rooms 13 and 11 are special to me.

Eli: For me, it’s room 11, I love the palapa and the privacy you get there, it stands out to me from the others, but it was also one of the first rooms so maybe it’s the nostalgia.


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