Name: José R.
Position: M Club Attendant
Hotel: New Orleans Marriott
Dream destination: Italy and Israel. I’ve been told Italy is very romantic and beautiful and people are always outside. And Israel because Jesus was born there and being Christian, I would love to walk where he walked.
Drink or treat of choice: My favorite dish is frijoles con arroz y aguacate accompanied by two pupusas.
With a 38-year journey at Marriott that includes three surgeries, a hurricane, a pandemic and serving more guests than he can remember, José is far from being done. After holding different positions in Housekeeping, Room Service, and other departments, José now works directly with Marriott’s most loyal clients as an M Club attendant at the New Orleans Marriott, where he makes sure their most loyal guests have a standout experience.
Almost 40 years ago, José left his home country, El Salvador, which was in the midst of a civil war that lasted from 1979 to 1992. He landed in Louisiana, where his brother lived and worked. When José first got to New Orleans and started to look for a job, someone recommended that he apply for a job at the New Orleans Marriott located on historic Canal Street. Nothing, however, had prepared him for what happened next.
In the early days, José merely backed up the housekeeping department and the Room Service team. A year later, he was offered a full-time position. “I’ll never forget it was October 3rd of 1986,” he says. “This job has given me everything I have today, and I’ll be forever grateful.”
José worked in room service for almost 27 years — until the pandemic hit.
“We were told our department was going to close and were given the chance to transfer to other departments like banquet or housekeeping if we wanted to, but I had a pretty complicated situation.”
José was suffering from worn cartilage that caused his knees to swell and made it hurt to walk or stand for very long. “That break that could have been a bad thing, was instead a blessing for me because I could take that time to get the surgery and recovery I needed in both knees and to miss the least work possible.”
The doctor agreed and promised José that if he was able to walk two months after the first surgery, they would do the second one. And so it was. Jose’s recovery fuel was extreme motivation and a dedication for his job. “The hotel has been the greatest blessing of my life.”
Learn more about José’s inspiring journey, in his own words, below.
When have you felt most supported at Marriott?
When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in the summer of 2005. I practically lost everything in my house because it flooded and we had to evacuate. The hotel communicated in a very simple and incredible way that everyone who had lost their home or could not stay at their home because of the hurricane would be given free rooms.
They also gave us paid time off while we worked on rebuilding our homes. It was tremendous to have a place to go and the financial support. I know a lot of people that worked at other places and lost everything.
When have you felt like a part of a community at Marriott?
This company really cares about you as an employee. Even if one has a very complicated situation, they make you feel there is always time to solve it in a very positive way. My [knees] surgery was one of those times, but I had another surgery in 1998 that was very complicated. I had appendicitis but it ended up being peritonitis. I had to spend almost a year on leave at home. When I came back the doors were open for me, they could have replaced me at the time, but they gave me my job back. And not only that, the hotel supported me not just physically and financially but also emotionally. The moral support I got from my coworkers and my managers at that time was incredible.
Many Marriott associates describe their experience as being part of a big family, have you experienced this?
Well, to describe it in just a few words: at the department where I worked the most, which was room service, we had almost 300 years of joint experience. We were an immense family; we all grew up together. I was only 24 years old when I started.
Which one of Marriott’s core values resonates most with you?
Many of the philosophies that I practice and my beliefs go hand in hand with my work at the hotel. The people, the service, meeting new people. It goes beyond, it’s not so much about what I get paid, but the happiness I have experienced being in touch with the different cultures that I have gotten to know working here, [people] from every country. Also, how the hotel cares about your well-being, the benefits… It is a joy to be working in the hotel, really.
What does a good day at work look like for you these days?
Now that I work at the M Club, there are times when guests that I met 20 or 30 years ago come back and still remember me. And I look a little different from what I used to! They say, “José, you are here, I can’t believe it!” I love it and I recognize them too. Recently, I saw a lady who even ended up working at Marriott and later left to become a real estate agent. She used to stay at the hotel very often and now, many years later, she came back with her sisters to celebrate her birthday. I took the initiative to bring them a cake and reminisce about the good old times when she was a regular guest with us.
Have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
Yes, I have used it! My family from El Salvador are coming to visit in August and I’m thinking of taking a little vacation with them to Florida. A week or at least four days at our hotel in Destin, Florida.