With over 40% of the hospitality workforce getting furloughed in North America and no indication of when things will return to the 2019 levels, the entire hospitality industry is barely afloat. One man has managed to keep things together and ensured that the hotel property under his watch did not go under. Rhys O’Connell is a professional hotelier with years of experience under his belt, and he is New York Weekly’s Hotel General Manager of the Year.
Rhys O’Connell is a giant in the hospitality industry who remained undeterred in his pursuit of excellence. Rhys had quite an ambitious beginning while working with Hyatt Group’s food and beverage department in Australia. After several years of learning the ropes on how to be a successful hotelier, he has now earned his place as an integral part of North America’s hospitality industry. With a career spanning 20 years, Rhys has gone from a Front Desk Agent to General Manager for some of California’s finest and most iconic hotel properties, which has given him the unique opportunity to hone his skills and become one of the best in the industry.
By the time Rhys got to Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel in 2011, he quickly slid into professional mode at the only hotel on Beverly Hills’ iconic Rodeo Drive. He discovered his niche while functioning as the Assistant General Manager. A rather multi-faceted role, the title involved him acting as the Housekeeping Manager and the assistant to the Director of Sales. According to the Forbes criteria, O’Connell engages in constant staff training and hands-on assistance in everything from guest services to maintenance and sales. The results of these are visible in the hotel’s profits at the end of the year and an improved rating and reviews on TripAdvisor, which triggered a significant rise in the hotel’s annual rate of occupancy.
Rhys O’Connell aims to inspire people who want to grow in the hospitality industry. O’Connell began his food and beverage career with the Hyatt group before crossing departments from food and beverage to operations, which gave him the full scope of successfully running a full-service hotel. He considers himself well-equipped to help people achieve growth in hospitality.
Asked about his plan for the next five years, he said, “The faceless global opponent that came to us in 2020 has changed the way we know and think what guest service is. All we can do is build a detailed strategy to remain organized, systematic, and undistracted during this crisis. Charting provides a road map that will allow us to stay focused just on those things that we can control, i.e., key aspects of the business, the team, and customer engagement. My main focus is to create unforgettable memories for our guests and team members while growing and expanding my skills, learning from my incredible mentors, and sharing them with others. Success is all about growing others and adding value.”
In 2015, O’Connell was rewarded for his professionalism when he was offered the director’s position at Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, one of North America’s most luxurious hotels. Through dynamic and strategic policies, he was able to transform the hotel, raising standards following the world’s leading hotels. Other hotels and properties that have benefitted from O’Connell’s expertise include Moonlight Beach Inn, San Diego, 371-room Union Property. During his stay, their revenue, profit, ranking, and customer reviews increased tremendously.
Considering how he has kept the property under his management afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the total collapse of the hospitality industry, O’Connell received a nomination for the “Most Valuable Player” award 2020.
Learn more about Rhys O’Connell on Twitter.