Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa
Newport Beach, California
Lupe’s Perfect Room
Guadalupe Marin recalls early in her 32-year career with Marriott International when J. Willard Marriott came to her hotel. The company founder walked in and started shaking hundreds of associates’ hands before asking to spend some extra time with the kitchen and housekeeping staff.
“He knew how hard we worked so he went out of his way to see us,” recalls the then housekeeper. “That said a lot about him. It made us want to make him proud.”
Known as “Lupe,” the senior manager at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa is renowned for treating her staff as equals and seeing herself less as a supervisor and more of a coach.
“It’s amazing to watch her style and the way she inspires her team,” says Michael Tepper, director of hotel operations, who is Lupe’s nominator and former supervisor.
“You need to motivate,” Lupe says of her leadership approach. “It’s like a team and everybody has to play together.”
That’s why Lupe’s morning stand-ups include exercise, music (sometimes salsa, sometimes disco), dancing and lots of laughter to get her staff pumped for their day. When she inspects a room, she includes the housekeeper and makes sure to inject some fun. That often means the two of them role play as guests, touring the room as a guest might instead of comparing the room against a checklist.
Lupe, however, is serious about the housekeeping role. She knows that how well a room is cleaned can make or break a guest’s stay. That’s why she instituted what her hotel calls “The Perfect Room.” It’s a style of cleaning that turns a clean hotel room into a gleaming one. Sheets, blankets and duvet all get tucked in to make a “perfect bed.” The sink and corners get extra attention, and the toiletries get staged for a “perfect bathroom.”
The genius of the method is that Lupe offers certifications to her staff for “perfect” presentations. It’s made such a difference that word has spread to other Marriott properties, whose managers visit to observe her training technique to replicate at their hotels.
Lupe says her dedication to excellence is rooted in her commitment to the company that hired her when she was a teenager who didn’t speak English. “Marriott gave me the opportunity to make a career and support my family.”