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The Slot Spot: Caribbean Casino InsiderApril 14, 2008 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
Ada Pérez, Setting New Heights for Women in the Casino Industry
A casino in Old San Juan is unusual in itself; now meet the El Casino at the Sheraton Old San Juan’s director who can add some more uniqueness to the property.
Ada Pérez is a rarity in the sense that she is a woman in a very high position in the world of casinos, which has long been considered a man’s industry. Sure, gamers are pretty gender diverse, as you will most likely see an equal share of men and women pumping quarters into the slots and spilling chips on the poker table.
Ada Pérez is the director of El Casino at the Sheraton Old San Juan.
But when it comes to the administration in casinos in the Caribbean—and in the world for that matter—men have predominantly held managerial positions.
Although we have no official stats to support this, Pérez, who was born in Cuba and raised in Spain and Puerto Rico, might very well be one of only a handful of women who have held this position.
Again, we are using our trips to casinos around the world throughout the years as our basis for this claim. But I would venture to guess, the list of female casino directors is probably not as long as the lines to casinos’ ATM machines.
“As a woman, being the pioneer directing a casino in the Caribbean has been a reward for all my hard work, experience and dedication to the industry, but at the same time a great challenge and motivation to succeed professionally,” she told Travel Agent. “I truly love my profession even though it has been hard and often it still is. I am very proud that I did succeed.”
After she graduated college, Pérez began learning about the casino industry through classes offered by the Puerto Rico Tourism Authority. She began working at the San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde as a croupier. In 1987, she was promoted to supervisor and in 1995 to shift manager at the same property.
“Having worked my way up through different positions has proved invaluable in my efforts to become the first female director of a casino, as well as in relations with employees and industry colleagues,” she says,
The opportunity to become a director was first given to her in 1998 by Carlos George, regional director at that time for Hyatt Regency Aruba.
“Mr. George broke all the rules of the gaming industry, which was formerly considered a man’s field, by allowing me to become the first female casino director at Hyatt Regency Aruba,” she says. “There is always a dark side of the story, in my case that part was overcoming comments and image distortions. Today everything changed and mostly due to women’s determination all over the world to conquer the impossible. Today, I can proudly say there is another woman running a casino in Puerto Rico, Maria Pérez, my sister.”
So, what advice would Pérez give a young woman starting a career in casino operations?
“Learn, learn and learn everything that happens on the casino floor,” she says.
“Going through the different positions as I did helped me grow in the operations field. Take advantage of learning everything about table games and slots thoroughly. Interact with players and know their mentality of why they behave the way they do. Always remember ours is a field of entertainment and the employees, as well as the customers, should enjoy dealing and playing. Always focus on customer services. The most important thing is being consistent and honest.”
More About El Casino
Sheraton Old San Juan, which rests in the heart of the seven-square-block historic district of Old San Juan overlooking San Juan Bay and the cruise ship harbor, completed a three-phase expansion project in October. The property attracts guests in the 40-year-old range.
El Casino at the Sheraton Old San Juan.
The upgraded El Casino now offers an additional 2,000 square feet of space with 100 new machines, upgrades to more than 100 existing machines, and an additional random payout jackpot.
Exclusively for carded Players Club members, the all-new Rapid Fire program complements the already popular Bahía Bucks Mystery Jackpot program with up to six additional chances for winning daily. The casino is a popular feature of the Sheraton. For more information, visit www.sheratonoldsanjuan.com.
Perez told Travel Agent that plans call for another Sheraton casino at the outer rim of Old San Juan. The Sheraton Convention Center is expected to be ready by the end of 2009.
High-Rollers Packages a Thing of the Future?
In other Caribbean casino news, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino’s new High Rollers Package intrigued Travel Agent.
The resort in St. Maarten could be onto something. After all, there is a stock of top-notch casinos in the Caribbean that would be the perfect getaway for such packages.
With Sonesta Maho’s High Rollers Package, casino goers enjoy three nights in a Junior Suite, welcomed by a bottle of Moet Chandon champagne.
High rollers then hit the property’s casino, Casino Royale, enjoying complimentary match plays all night.
Also included are VIP tickets for two to Theater Royale’s show Caliente, a massage for two at the Good Life Spa, a gourmet dinner for two at The Point restaurant and a $100 jewelry certificate, which is only valid on purchases of $500 or more.
The Sonesta Maho High Rollers Package is priced for two at $1,037 from April 15 through December 1. Visit www.sonesta.com/mahobeach. Agents can also call Claire Nuvens, reservations manager, at 599-545-2115.
Are you an agent who would like to share casino news, thoughts and insider tips on selling Caribbean destinations with casinos? Write Joe Pike at [email protected].