Inside Room 702: Q&A with Serby Castro (Orlando, Fla.), Suite Attendant & Soap Recycling Champion
After 50 years, revisiting the iconic Bed-In for Peace
As Hilton celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, it also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Bed-In for Peace which took place March 25, 1969, in Room 702 at the Hilton Amsterdam with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The now-legendary moment in time is not only part of Hilton’s history, it is a reflection of Hilton’s culture.
To honor their commitment to their communities and recognize their philanthropic efforts, Hilton invited two people who truly embody the Room 702 spirit – Serby Castro, a Suite Attendant at an Embassy Suites by Hilton in Orlando and Ismaeil Dawod, an Apprentice at Hilton Hotels and Resorts in Frankfurt – to visit a symbolic Room 702 in their own hotels. Once inside, they received news that would change their lives.
Get to know the people behind our Room 702 stories as they talk through their journeys of strengthening communities and spearheading social change, under founder Conrad Hilton’s belief that world travel can lead to better understanding among people and contribute to global peace.
Serby Castro - Suite Attendant
What attracted you to pursue a career with an Embassy Suites in Orlando? How long have you worked there?
I’m originally from the Dominican Republic, a tropical island with communities of lively people who interact with one another often. It was second nature for me to pursue a job within an industry fueled by the people it serves. Over the past four years working at Embassy I’ve had the pleasure of having direct contact with our guests and have been able to connect and provide exceptional service to people from diverse cultures and backgrounds daily. The special moments that come from guest service have ultimately empowered me to continue to enrich the lives of others beyond the walls of the hotel.
In the video, you discussed experiencing an initial cultural shock when you came to America. How did your role at Embassy Suites help you create a new home for you and your family?
At first, I was nervous to relocate from my home country to Orlando. I always heard stories from my family and friends on how difficult immigrating to a new country is. But my experience has been the exact opposite, and that’s largely thanks to Embassy Suites. The leaders ensured I was equipped with the resources I needed to succeed on the job and outside of it.
What inspired you to join in on Hilton’s Clean the World Program?
As a suite attendant, cleaning guest rooms, you have this eye for detail, like noticing the number of toiletries that go unused. I remember asking the question, what am I supposed to do with all this leftover shampoo and soap? Then I discovered Hilton already had an answer – Clean the World. The program directly impacts people from countries like mine, the Dominican Republic, to help reduce preventable hygiene-related illnesses. By recycling the excess soap and bottles, I am saving children from suffering from easily preventable diseases like tuberculosis.
What was your experience like traveling back to your home, the Dominican Republic, through Hilton’s Room 702 Hero initiative?
I was overwhelmed with joy, excitement, and tears after receiving the invitation to Room 702. Being able to travel home to the Dominican Republic to witness what my devotion to the Clean the World program has done and to be recognized by the program’s founder and CEO as a critical factor to its success was a full circle moment for me.
Describe the impact the program has had on the people of the Dominican Republic specifically and worldwide?
Through the program, we ship partially used soap and amenities to Clean the World’s collection and recycle centers for them to process and remanufacture into new soap bars for homeless shelters, community centers, and medical facilities in disadvantaged communities around the world. So far, we have sent over 6.8M soap bars to countries in need. These contributions have saved lives and continue to help cut hygiene-related diseases in half.
What can we expect to see from the Serby Castro Recycling Center?
Making a difference in the world begins with the belief that you can do something that doesn’t just benefit yourself. I envision the Serby Castro Recycling Center to be a landmark of opportunity for my country. Something for kids and adults alike to recognize and be inspired by. The center will represent how small actions like recycling and other means of volunteerism can make a major difference in the world we live in.
Serby Castro is a suite attendant at an Embassy Suites by Hilton in Orlando, where she champions a life-saving program that recycles leftover hotel soap and distributes it in regions without ready access to the basics of hygiene. In an emotional journey back to her home in the Dominican Republic, Serby sees first-hand the impact of her work.