General Managers to Watch
Two HVMG general managers were included in Hotel
Management magazine's 2022 GMs to Watch list -- Maggie Rosa from the Atlanta
Marriott Perimeter Center and Rodolfo Ortega from Tru by Hilton Atlanta
Galleria Ballpark. Read on to learn
about their career paths, leadership philosophies, and goals for 2023.
Describe your career path: Where you went to school,
how you started in the hotel industry and how you progressed to your current
I was born and raised in Colombia, and I was sponsored by
the Santamar Resort & Convention Center in Santa Marta to attend the SENA
college while interning at the Resort.
After graduating with a major in Hospitality in 1989, I began my
management career as Assistant F&B Manager at the Santamar. After 11 months
I was promoted to F&B Manager where I served until 1993 when I moved to
Barranquilla to take the F&B Manager position at Puerta del Sol Hotel.
I married and moved back to Santa Marta as General Manager for La Ballena Azul in 1996. From 1997 to 2001 I served as dual General
Manager for Hotel de la Ville in Cali and Hotel Valle Real in Bogota.
I moved to the USA in 2001 and held several roles in various disciplines while learning English. I was promoted to my first
management position in the US in 2006, when I became as Restaurant General
Manager for Baja Fresh Mexican Grille in Southfield, MI. From 2008 to 2011 I served as Restaurant Manager
for Doubletree in Dearborn, MI.
In 2011 I moved to Florida and joined HVMG in numerous
leadership roles, including Executive Housekeeper for the International Palms
Resort Cocoa Beach and Executive Housekeeper for the Atlanta Marriott
Northeast. I also assisted on task force assignments within HVMG Hotel
acquisitions such as Holiday Inn Savannah GA, Embassy Suites St. Augustine, FL,
and The Burgess Hotel Atlanta, GA. From February to September 2021, I served as
the Task Force GM for the Nautilus Inn Daytona Beach, FL. On September 2021 I was
promoted with HVMG as General Manager for the Tru by Hilton Atlanta.
I attended Northern Arizona University and got a B.S. in
Hotel and Restaurant Management. During
college, I knew I wanted to work for Marriott, and there was only one Marriott
hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona at the time, a Residence Inn. I worked in
housekeeping, laundry, breakfast, and front desk -- all the areas. It was a
deliberate decision because I was going to graduate at age 20 and knew I would
be managing people who were older and more experienced, so I wanted to know
every aspect of the business.
After college, I was part of Marriott's Manager in
Training (MIT) program. Instead of staying in one department, I again pushed
them to move me around so I could learn more. After graduation, I worked in
various rooms positions at Marriott properties in Marina del Ray, Pasadena,
LAX, and Redmond, WA -- Front Officer Manager, Director of Services, Director
of Rooms, and Assistant GM. After opening
the Marriott Redmond Town Center, my children were getting older, and I wanted
to put down some roots.
We moved to Houston and spent fourteen years there. I got
the chance to learn about other brands as Area GM for the Hilton Houston Galleria
Area and Hyatt Regency Houston North and got connected with HVMG. I also got to
flex my turnaround muscles, which is what led me here to the Atlanta Marriott
What do you love most about being a general manager?
I like to come into a hotel and be part of its
transformation. I thrive on turning unbelievers into believers, to show people
that everything's possible with passion and commitment.
At times, even the most passionate people lose their
passion because of their environment -- both physical and cultural -- and the
challenges that they face. But once the passion is reignited, they rise to the
Being a general manager is not a position or a title,
it's action and example. Being a GM takes time, energy, effort, and
determination. I enjoy building and
developing teams who drive outstanding results by creating a family work
environment based on respect, support, trust, and accountability, where
everyone is committed to providing excellence in service and achieving great
success. An essential part of my role as
GM is to clearly communicate the team's direction, vision, and goals,
demonstrate the values expected of the team and motivate the staff towards
achieving said goals while letting the associates know where their
When associates feel that their manager supports them,
they take initiative, greater risks, show growth, and trust each other to do
the right thing. By focusing on the importance of one's role in achieving the
company's goals, an associate is made aware of their importance and how their
failures and shortcomings affect others.
I encourage the team to challenge themselves by setting
up their own personal and work-related goals.
The most rewarding part of my job is having the ability to influence the
professional growth of my associates.
What is your management philosophy? How do you inspire
My philosophy is to lead with a hospitality heart for
service. Hospitality involves making your best effort to provide a special and
memorable experience, and I am passionate about leading by example to provide
excellent customer service for guests and associates.
I'm always looking for an opportunity to do better and
achieve excellence in servicing others. I pay attention to little details that
could have a positive impact on other people's lives. If you want your
associates to trust you and have confidence in your leadership, you need to be
an example for them to aspire to.
I am a hands-on GM who frequently jumps in and lends a
hand when needed, which builds a collaborative team atmosphere where associates
help each other in their efforts to provide the best guest experience.
I believe the best way to inspire our staff is by setting
clear expectations and goals, providing constructive feedback on a regular
basis, praising them publicly for a job well done, and providing opportunities
to learn and grow while giving them space to fail and take measured risks. Failures are opportunities to make us better,
they are also an opportunity for leaders to extend each other grace, learn from
their mistakes, and become stronger.
We win with our people, and we win with culture. Our associates know that we truly care about
them. They know that we care about our guests, but we care about them first.
They spend more time at work than anywhere else, so we want this to be
When our associates drive up to work, I want to them to
know that no matter the challenge, no matter what's happening, we're in it
together. Whether we have to flip the ballroom or have to strip beds to get
ready for a big check-in, I am going to make sure we all jump in and do
whatever it takes.
What is the most pressing challenge you've faced and
resolved in the past year?
This hotel was in the Red Zone for years before HVMG took
over management. When I first started here, I knew that it was going to be a
big undertaking. We had a meeting in
early January with Marriott Corporate, our lenders, our owners, and our HVMG
corporate team. There was a lot of pressure.
The corporate team from Marriott even said, "Mr. Marriott wants to
see this hotel turn around because it's been in the red for so long." We
sat in a room and did a big presentation about how we would turn the hotel
We were out of the Red Zone by March.
We had gotten a good response to our plan, and everyone
expressed confidence in our ability to do it. But, as our Marriott SVP said,
"Listen, Maggie, I knew you guys would do it. I really did. I didn't think
you guys would do it this quickly."
It really brought tears to my eyes because for the team
to really embrace it and hear those comments meant the world.
Staff shortages and the high turnover during the past
year were a big challenge, as applicants would not show up for interviews, or
when hired would work for a day or two and then go to the next place offering
pennies more. The first step in
overcoming this crisis was to reward our new associates with hiring and
retention bonuses. We also focused on improving the engagement with our
associates to create loyalty.
Even though the staff shortages caused disruptions to
operations, I felt it was important to focus on hiring people that have the
same values as the company and would fit right in with the culture of the
By hosting events and activities that foster camaraderie
and team building, I spend time with our staff, getting to know them well
enough to understand what is important to them and their families, creating an
atmosphere of cooperation, and offering activities that foster personal
development. I developed a mentoring
program to teach transferrable skills. Associates at the hotel are cross-trained
to cover different positions to help in all the departments.
Who are your clients? How do you interact with them?
My clients are our guests, associates, hotel owners, the
local community, and the people we do business with. All of them are important.
Hospitality is not limited to the hospitality industry, and I have always
focused on providing positive experiences and memories for the people around me.
My favorite time to interact with our guests is during
breakfast when I can ask them about their experience in our hotel and learn
how we can make their stay memorable. I encourage my associates to learn
something about our guests, like what brought them to Atlanta or why they chose
our property, and to always try to go above and beyond to ensure they have a
great time during their stay in our hotel.
One of the best ways to improve is to ask for feedback
regularly and be open to receiving it and doing something with it. The
hospitality industry is constantly evolving, and as managers, we need to know
what is going on in our industry and what changes or impacts could be coming
our way. Soliciting feedback from your associates, guests, partners, and the
local community helps find areas you may need help in and implement changes to
further your career success and the success of your hotel.
Our clients are everyone from the CEOs and presidents of
companies like State Farm, WestRock, Cox, Oracle, EY, and Deloitte to the
baseball and soccer moms from all over the state. Our hotel changes drastically from weekday to
I've always believed that we lead from the lobby. During peak times, it's important for us to
be out there interacting with our guests, for them to get to know us. That's
also how we've won some business, by going back to those grassroots efforts of
making sure we know every guest who is here and interacting with them.
What corporate or industry accolades have you received
for your efforts?
Hotel of the Year
General Manager of Excellence Award
Houston Business Journal's Women Who Mean Hospitality
Commencement speaker at University of Houston Conrad
Hilton College of Hospitality Management
Hilton Americas President for a Day
Tru by Hilton is currently ranked #2 on TripAdvisor Traveler's choice among 197
hotels in Atlanta.
Tru by Hilton ranked # 171 on Trip Advisor when the hotel opened in May 2021.
In December 2021 I and his team made the commitment to rank among the top 20
properties in Atlanta. After 5 months the hotel placed in the top 20 selected
groups and by August 2022 the hotel ranked #2.
The Nautilus Inn Daytona Beach ranked #3 on TripAdvisor
"Club 90" for achieving Guest Excellence Performance over 90 points on GSS and
performing above the brand average.
Second-Highest RevPar Index in the Select Service Category
ADR and RevPar for six months in a row among the comp set.
Highest Total Department Sales vs. Budget
Highest House Profit vs. Budget
Tell us about some of your goals for the next year.
My goal for 2023 is to make the hotel stand out. I want
to position the hotel as ranking #1 on TripAdvisor - Travelers' choice and
achieve the HVMG Hotel of the Year award for the Select Service
Properties. Part of my job as the hotel
general manager is to strive for excellence in our hotels, not only for my
guests but also for my staff. I determine where the hotel currently falls short and
work with my team to implement actions that each associate can take to move in
the direction of excellence.
I also want to continue ensuring that our team stays
happy, engaged, and inspired to work together toward reaching their shared
goals. My priority is to understand and connect with our guests and associates
to find ways to provide an excellent experience for them.
Aside from the usual goals of increasing revenue,
generating additional revenue opportunities, developing my leadership team, and
improving guest satisfaction scores, my biggest goal is to attract new talent.
I have partnered with Kennesaw State University and sit
on the advisory board for their hospitality program. I want to continue to
develop that partnership with an internship program. We are interviewing and
working with students now to give them a start and develop bench strength for
HVMG's 15 hotels in Atlanta.
Mentoring is a big passion of mine and my leadership team, and we are excited to bring new talent into the industry.