Name: Fernando D.
Position: Guest Experience Expert
Hotel: Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ
Dream destination: Goa, India
Drink or treat of choice: A post-lunch Horchata (one of the traditional drinks in my hometown, made with rice and peanuts) and a chocolate
When Fernando became a Marriott houseman in 2019, he was surprised to find out just how big Marriott is — and the opportunities that can come with working for a company of that size.
“When I came to Marriott, I had a very general understanding of the company, but once inside, I was amazed at how big our company is and how hard each department works to exceed our guests’ expectations,” says Fernando. “It was a pleasant surprise to know that you can grow within the company.”
Fernando started out at the Residence Inn by Marriott Bethesda Downtown, where he learned “everything I know about the houseman position” thanks to a very supportive supervisor. “She taught me everything I needed to know to do a good job, but she also taught me about other departments and the company. We forged a good friendship, which resulted in incredible teamwork.”
When the nearby Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ hired its opening team in 2022, Fernando transferred to the new hotel in the same houseman position — and was soon promoted out of the housekeeping department.
“I met the Director of Room Operations who saw my potential and invited me to join the Front Desk team, where I am now,” he says. “I am loving my current position, and I look forward to what the future might bring.”
Fernando’s Impact on a Fellow Associate
As a Guest Experience Expert, Fernando works closely with the guests — checking them in, assisting with any requests, and providing general information. Because of its close proximity to Marriott’s Corporate Headquarters (literally, about 20 feet from the front door), those guests are often Marriott associates traveling to HQ — this past fall that included winners of the company’s esteemed Award of Excellence, who were in town to be honored at the award ceremony. Delana, a Guest Experience Manager at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa in India, was one of these honored guests.
Delana stayed at the HQ Hotel with her family in the days leading up to the ceremony, and she was particularly touched by Fernando’s kindness, support, and knowledge of her culture.
“When we first met him, he told us he loved Bollywood and actually sang a few lines from a Bollywood track, which was very impressive! Instantly, we were taken up by how warm and genuine he was,” Delana recalls of her interactions with Fernando. “The following day he thanked us for staying at the Marriott in Hindi, which is our national language.”
Following their friendly chat and connection over Indian culture, Fernando surprised Delana by buying himself an Indian kurta to wear on the day of the ceremony as an honor to her.
“But what totally touched my heart was seeing him in a Kurta for the award ceremony — my family and I were overwhelmed!” says Delana. “That was such a special gesture, seeing him smiling in that Kurta, was priceless to us.”
Upon her departure, Fernando gifted Delana a packet of Cuban coffee — and she has kept the now empty packet as a souvenir.
“He touched our hearts, and the hearts of so many other guests,” says Delana. “He is one of the ‘gems’ we will keep safe in our treasure chest of memories from our magical visit to Bethesda.”
Learn more about Fernando’s Marriott journey, in his own words, below.
Why is it important to you to support the guests and fellow associates, like you did for Delana?
Supporting our guests and associates gives us the opportunity to achieve one of our goals, which is to create a personal connection with them, and talk about the love of our cultural heritage and the passion we feel for what we do at Marriott.
Which of Marriott’s core values resonate most with you?
“We Put People First” is one of the values that resonates the most with me, and it’s because that includes all of us, guests and associates, and it’s something that everyone in my Front Desk team puts into practice on a daily basis.
What was your Marriott interview process like, and any tips for candidates who want a role like yours?
I had an incredible interview with the Human Resources Director. It was more than an interview, it was a very fluid conversation, and she made me feel very comfortable and welcome.
My advice to candidates is, don’t be afraid to speak honestly and openly about your skills and abilities during the interview.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
I’ve had a great experience from the beginning at Residence Inn, and now that I’m at Marriott Bethesda Downtown, I have an amazing team at the Front Desk. My colleagues have always been very supportive, and my managers are great mentors — they share their knowledge and constantly encourage us to seek excellence and grow within the company.
What’s one surprising thing about your role most people might not know?
I was very surprised how much information you handle in the Front Desk. Beyond helping guests with check-in or check-out, the position will allow you to know about every department in your hotel, even about other hotels, about the city in which you work and about many other things, and it is because all guests have different requests and questions.
It is challenging, but at the same time satisfying, because you learn a lot in the process and that knowledge gives you the opportunity to provide a better service every day, while at the same time, it can open doors for new opportunities for growth.
Favorite part of the job?
My work team and seeing satisfied and happy guests.
How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
I’ve done two long road trips, coast to coast, and visited many states, staying in new Marriott brands along the way, at least one from each segment (Luxury, Premium, Select, Longer Stays and Collections). They were all fantastic properties, and my Marriott Explore Rate was a great help.