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Find My Hotelier Friends: [Fierce] Female General Managers Edition

With summer in full swing and travel demand exceeding pre-pandemic levels, the buzz within the hospitality industry is palpable.

To keep up with some of our most beloved partners around the world, we launched our Find My Friends series with Part I and Part II last month. In this third edition, we’ve checked in with some of the industry’s most formidable General Managers…who just so happen to be women. So, whether your version of #smartflyertakemeto finds you anywhere from Chicago to Cape Town, rest assured that our relationships are extended to our clients–and we’ve got some pretty incredible friends around the world who will be sure to look after you.

  1. Cornelia Samara, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel The Surf Club, Surfside, Florida
  2. Amanda Hyndman, General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London
  3. Anne Scott, General Manager, One&Only Cape Town
  4. Andrea Gates, Managing Director, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas, Texas
  5. Maria Zec, General Manager, The Peninsula Chicago

Cornelia Samara, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel The Surf Club, Surfside, Florida

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

There is positivity and joy in our guests’ eyes and it’s a good feeling to know that we can welcome everyone to savor the sun, sand, and serenity they will find here.

Summertime is synonymous with relaxation, fun, and making memories with family and friends. The Surf Club has historically been an escape from the outside world, a place of endless laughter for people seeking good times. Travel in today’s time resonates with that history so beautifully. People are looking to reconnect, to get away, and to recharge. There is positivity and joy in our guests’ eyes and it’s a good feeling to know that we can welcome everyone to savor the sun, sand, and serenity they will find here.

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

Some things haven’t changed and the service that Four Seasons is known for is one of them. A stay at Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is all about evoking a feeling. Our new Lido Restaurant led by Chef Antonio Mermolia is one of the best oceanfront dining experiences in the Miami Beaches. In The Champagne Bar, our adored Valentino Longo will capture you with just one sip. You can spend sunny days by our beautiful pools and pristine beach or discover wellness in our spa. Simply walking throughout the hotel and taking in its splendor will take you back to a very special place back in time; the property is truly iconic and something you will want to experience for yourself.

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

As soon as Israel is more easily accessible, I’ll be heading to the Middle East to visit my mom and family in Jerusalem. I feel fortunate to have been born and raised in one of the most sacred and historic cities in the world. It will always be one of the most special places on earth and I recommend everyone try to make it there at least once in a lifetime, even though I guarantee that you’ll want to go back time and again after your first visit.

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Amanda Hyndman, General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

The most exciting aspect of life opening up again is to rediscover the city you love with a deeper purpose or a new pursuit of adventure, and there has never been a better time to visit London.

The most exciting aspect of life opening up again is to rediscover the city you love with a deeper purpose or a new pursuit of adventure, and there has never been a better time to visit London. I am most excited about seeing our amazing team returning to work, as well as the return of our loyal guests, friends, and families from all over the world–whenever it is safe for them to do so, of course. With our unparalleled location in the heart of London, sitting between fashionable Knightsbridge and the glorious Hyde Park, we offer our guests a plethora of bespoke experiences in and around our neighborhood for all interests. Our guests can also enter the summer stronger and more resilient with our residential spa packages featuring the newly curated wellness menu of signature therapies by our in-resident wellness practitioners together with bespoke treatments and journeys from our award-winning partners. We are the only hotel in London with unique outdoor space that offers panoramic park views, and our event spaces have hosted countless high-profile social and business events for more than a century. Every visit to Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London is a special occasion, and I very much look forward to feeling the full energy of this incredible city once again.

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?  

We consistently communicate with all our guests from pre-arrival to post-stay, every need is anticipated as we continue to delight and exceed expectations in all aspects. We will also enhance all of our digital touchpoints to provide more proactive interactions that effectively boost engagement. Today’s guests are first and foremost digital customers, they rely on various digital channels to navigate and communicate with brands through exceptional, informative, and personalized experiences.

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

We have a home in the Balearic islands which I haven’t been able to visit for a long while, then eventually I need to get back to both Hong Kong, my beloved home of five years. La Grande Dame on the banks of the mighty Chao Phraya river in Bangkok – but if all else fails, Scotland is always spectacular in any season.

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Anne Scott, General Manager, One&Only Cape Town

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

In Cape Town, we welcome the summer months towards the end of the year. This is always an exciting time, with sunrises bringing in the new day as the city wakes. Guests begin their day out on our Vista deck or on their private balconies, enjoying morning tea or coffee with the magnificence of a Table Mountain view. Perhaps, then, they’ll try their hand at stand up paddleboarding the deep blue waterways which encircle our island resort or join one of our excellent mountain guides for a hike to start the day up to one of Cape Town’s iconic mountain peaks, with breathtaking 360-degree views of the city to be admired from the top. Summer is also a particularly exciting time for us as we prepare for our festive celebrations–each year we welcome an exciting program of heart-warming and jovial experiences for all our guests visiting over this special time. 

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

We’ve seen a global trend to nature and that remains true for our guests who find solace in the natural fauna, flora, and creatures that inhabit our serene surroundings.

As the world continues to return to a version of “normal”, we’ve been giving a lot of careful thought and attention to ways we can make traveling to One&Only Cape Town even more comfortable, enticing, and enriching than ever. From fogging rooms and sealing doors, to regularly wiping down surfaces and always adhering to social distancing guidelines as well as even offering in-resort PCR testing, we could then begin to turn our focus to what we can offer the world that’s exciting and new. We’ve seen a global trend to nature and that remains true for our guests who find solace in the natural fauna, flora, and creatures that inhabit our serene surroundings. In response, we’ve teamed up with friends and neighbors, the Two Oceans Aquarium to offer an exclusive, behind-the-scenes sea turtle conservation experience. We’ve also recently launched a stunning new Wine Studio, a sleek and sophisticated space where our esteemed Head Sommelier, Luvo Ntezo, hosts engaging ‘wine dinners’, bespoke wine tastings, and other unique viniculture-inspired experiences such as a masterclass in blending your own wine.

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

Since calling South Africa home, I’ve had some fun exploring its different parts, but there’s always so much more to see. Somewhere I would love to travel to next is Rwanda. A beautiful country with an incredible history and flawless natural beauty, from what I’ve heard. Rwanda is home to two other One&Only properties, Gorilla’s Nest and Nyungwe House, which I hope to have the pleasure of visiting soon. What’s really drawing me to it though, is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to encounter the majestic mountain gorilla’s which call its dense forests home, as well as to discover the soul of this deeply African country, now being hailed by The New York Times and CNN Travel as one of the world’s most desirable travel locations.

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Andrea Gates, Managing Director, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas, Texas

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

While there are many things that excite me about the summer season in Dallas and at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, but this summer, I’m particularly happy about all the new offerings our team has created for both returning families and new Mansion guests alike. From creating a relaxing poolside experience complete with tasty bites and beverages to games on the Mansion Garden, doting on our four-legged friends that call The Mansion home, and of course, the many great culinary experiences that await our guests at The Mansion Bar and Restaurant, there is something for everyone. 

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

There’s no better time to visit Dallas and The Mansion than this summer! Our Summer by Design experiences are sure to delight this season. We have curated a variety of experiences in which hotel guests will be able to discover Dallas as a destination through personalized and imaginative journeys. Some of my favorites include our collection of hands-on experiences from a private floral design class, to rolling up your sleeves and learning the craft of cheesemaking to enhancing your artistic skills through a private painting class.

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

Always at the top of my list during the summer months is a visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The festivals, art galleries, museums, shopping, hiking, and of course a stay at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, a visit to Ten Thousand Waves, enjoying a Silver Coin Margarita (or two), and the delicious food simply can’t be missed.

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Maria Zec, General Manager, The Peninsula Chicago

What has you most excited for the summer season in your hotel?

I am most excited to welcome our guests back to the hotel and to the city of Chicago. So many people were forced to put travel and significant life events on hold this past year, so it feels extra special to welcome them back now. There is a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm throughout the city that we have missed for the last year. It is exciting to be a part of bringing happiness to people and we have the wonderful opportunity to create lasting memories by providing surprise and delight moments during their time with us. 

How will you be engaging with guests in new and exciting ways as travel picks up?

June 1st, 2021 marked The Peninsula Chicago’s 20th Anniversary. We’ve recognized this by bringing back some culinary classics which were favorite menu items from the past decades now featured on The Lobby menu once again. The Pen20 cocktail is available throughout the hotel for celebratory toasts and The Peninsula 20th Anniversary Dumpling (made with 20 ingredients!) is available in Shanghai Terrace. For every one of these items sold, we are pleased to make a meal donation to The Greater Chicago Food Depository for a person in need. And to make travel a bit easier during this transitional time, we are pleased to offer The Peninsula Promise, our commitment to guests which features extended and flexible check-in and check-out times, 24-hour contactless Concierge services, and a guaranteed connecting room offer with special rates.

If you’re managing to do some travel of your own this season, where are you headed?

Chicago is a hard place to leave during the summer as the city comes alive with beautiful weather, miles of open lakefront, and countless outdoor activities. However, after a long year of lockdowns and travel restrictions, I definitely have plans to get away for a bit. My next trip is planned for the end of June to Carmel, CA, where my husband and daughter are both celebrating milestone birthdays. They’re marking this passage with a round of golf at the legendary Pebble Beach. August will take me back to Carmel, California for The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering held at Quail Lodge and Golf Course. For Labor Day weekend, to cap off the summer, I’ll be back at our getaway home in the Pinehurst area in North Carolina for some rest and relaxation before returning to a (hopefully) busy fall and winter season at The Peninsula Chicago.

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Love this series? Check out Part I and Part II

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