It bears no mention that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused heartaches all around the world. From making its rounds in hospital wards to public spaces, the health crisis has been filling news pages and emptying business establishments.
Among the ventures, much shaken by the virus, are those in the hotel and resort industry. Pouring 20 accomplished years into surviving and rising above the pandemic is celebrated hotel General Manager Rhys O’Connell.
The first few years of those 20 began in the Hyatt Group’s food and beverage department in Australia. After improving his craft and writing the prologue of his eventful and brilliant story, Rhys O’Connell embarked on a new chapter. In 2011, he seamlessly slid into professional life at the only hotel in Beverly Hills’ iconic Rodeo Drive.
Surrounded by a tasteful blend of contemporary and elegance, Rhys found his niche while expanding his expertise as the hotel’s Assistant General Manager. While in the position, he was also the Housekeeping Manager and Assistant to the Director of Sales, ensuring a well-rounded and informed service.
Working at the iconic Rodeo Drive, Rhys O’Connell trained his staff based on the Forbes Criteria and was highly commendable in his hands-on maintenance, sales, and guest services. This commendation came in the form of an impressive 30-percent improved rating on Tripadvisor, which noted a significant increase in annual rate and occupancy.
In 2015, another chapter begged to be written. A director’s position beckoned at one of North America’s most luxurious hotels, Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. Rhys couldn’t say no.
As the Director of Front Office, Rhys employed innovative custom packages with the hotel’s revenue managers. The venture was a success. It rode the waves of Rhys O’Connell’s positive transformation of the management from the Reservations department to the Rooms division – raising the standards in line with the Leading Hotels of the World.
He eventually began making his way south to north across the Golden State, accumulating and improving unrivaled management skills. Building a name as sunny as the state itself, Rhys has also spearheaded projects leading to the Inn at Moonlight Beach in San Diego to become the world’s first WELL standard building in hospitality.
Now, managing one of San Francisco’s finest properties, Rhys O’Connell finds himself the subject of awe once again – successfully raising the four-star 371-room Union Property to the Conde Nast Top Ten Hotel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year has been the most challenging for the hotel industry due to the faceless enemy,” he shares. “Over 40% of the hospitality workforce has been furloughed in North America with no clear indication on when we will return to 2019 levels.”
Proving himself to be the General Manager of the Year 2020, Rhys has kept spirits up and has continued to provide exceptional service. While focusing on crisis management and his team members, the expert hotelier worked closely with his leadership team to define the crisis and outline how the hotel will survive and ultimately thrive.
“It would be so easy to get distracted by the current chaos, but what I really care about is right inside this building. I care about the people who stay here and the people who work here. That’s the heart of it all.”
A real gem of the hospitality industry, Rhys O’Connell has been an influential figure in California’s hotel and resort services for more than a decade. Showing vivacious professional capabilities with the golden touch, Rhys is a glowing picture of talent, hard work, and leadership.
Revealing his secret to staying on top, Rhys says that his concentration lies in creating unforgettable memories with his guests and team members – building lasting connections while growing and expanding skills, learning from incredible mentors, and sharing it with others. “Success is all about growing others and adding value.”
Follow the inspiring General Manager of the Year 2020 as he continues to define success with his brilliance and endeavors. Rhys O’Connell is available on his official website.