Versilia Jn. Baptiste’s drive to learn, grow and lead at Sandals Halcyon Beach

(Sandals Resorts)- Versilia Jn Baptiste stands tall as a beacon of inspiration for her fellow team members at Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort and Spa. Always pushing her colleagues to aspire to greater heights.

Versilia, the resort’s front office supervisor, started her Sandals journey 21 years ago with a firm belief in the mantra, ‘you don’t get everything right away, you have to start, you have to want it, and you have to remain persistent until you get it.”

Hailing from the community of Desruisseaux, Micoud in the south of Saint Lucia, Versilia graduated from the Clendon Mason Memorial Secondary School, before moving to Castries in her early 20s. She carried with her a strong desire to find employment and absorb as much knowledge as possible, “growing up, I knew that learning should be my biggest goal because this is what would propel me to get to where I want to be in life. I did not have a tertiary education, so I used every opportunity and experience to learn something, to walk away knowing more than I knew when I started. Learning is what keeps me going every day.”

Versilia’s first job in Castries was as a babysitter, which she didwhile pursuing an information technology course. She eventually got her chance to join the hospitality industry as a spa receptionist at Hyatt, before joining Sandals Regency La Toc in 2003. At Sandals she worked as a cocktail server for four years, but her goal was always to move to the front office department. In the interim, Versilia took advantage of the opportunities Sandals afforded her to train and develop, “I knew this would be a challenge as I just had my daughter around that time but being who I am,once I set my mind to taking it on, I would not give up until it was achieved. So I enrolled in cross training at the resort and stayed back after work to train as a telephone operator for about two months.”

Her hard work paid off, and Versilia was selected to be an agent at the Club Sandals concierge department, a position she held for seven years, but her eye remained on the front office. In 2016, that dream came true, Versilia applied for the position of front office supervisor at Sandals Halcyon and was awarded the job with high recommendations. Reflecting on the experience, Versilia said, “my team became family, and I was able to learn their strengths and weaknesses and position them well for the department to function efficiently. I always encouraged them along the way to be their best.”

After more than two decades with the company, Versilia refuses to become stagnant. On April 5th, 2024, she surmounted what she describes as her biggest challenge to date by earning a Diploma in Hospitality Leadership through the Sandals Corporate University (SCU). This diploma programme, a collaboration between SCU, Florida International University (FIU), and the Accelerating Leaders organisation, spanned six months and included interactive workshops, discussion groups, case studies, and industry best practices.

Versilia said she is not done yet, and reflected on the words of Sandals Founder Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart that if you are going to dream, then dream big, “I continue to push others around me to never limit yourself because of where you come from, what someone else thinks about you, or even your current situation. Believe in yourself, and remember overcoming a challenge makes the victory sweeter. Whatever you do, do it well!”

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