Name: Derek W.
Position: Director of Sales
Hotel: JW Marriott Tampa Water Street & Marriott Tampa Water Street
Dream destination: I would love to visit Australia, especially The Ritz-Carlton, Melbourne — it looks stunning, and that indoor rooftop pool is calling my name. The country’s natural parks, white sand beaches and culture and art scene have always been so intriguing.
Drink or treat of choice: I cannot go a day without iced coffee, I have one first thing in the morning and I am always up for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Derek has been with Marriott since the beginning of his career, a whopping 15 years and nine different positions — multiple hotel openings, promotions from front desk to events to sales, cross-country moves, and more — so it’s no surprise to hear he feels an immense sense of belonging at the company where he’s spent the majority of his adult life. And that belonging has extended to experiences outside of the hotel, too.
“The first time I walked with the Marriott International in the pride parade at our nation’s capital,” Derek says of a moment he felt most part of a community. “It was an overwhelming feeling of acceptance and I felt so proud.”
In addition to his day-to-day job functions as a hotel sales leader, Derek leads the Orlando chapter of ONE, Marriott’s LGBTQ+ associate resource group.
“ONE Marriott is a network of LGBTQ+ associates and our allies,” says Derek. “This group created a supportive network for me and so many of our local associates. It has been a place where we can come together to develop an open network and foster open minds in an open workplace.”
Derek is proud to be his authentic self when he walks through the associate entrance at the hotel and feels honored to work for a company committed to diversity and inclusion.
Now, 15 years after his first role with Marriott, Derek encourages anyone looking to join Marriott to “be yourself, take risks, and embrace the importance of belonging.”
Derek’s own journey to hospitality started in the family. He was initially introduced by his brother, who worked as a chef at a Marriott in Pittsburgh.
“Every time I would drive through the city with him, I would see these massive steel glass buildings with their lit-up marquis,” says Derek. “It gave me an overwhelming feeling of wanting to know more.”
After Derek completed his first interview with Marriott in 2006, he felt confident that he’d made the right choice and accepted a role as a Front Desk Agent at the Marriott Pittsburgh City Center while still in college.
“I knew this company would give me the opportunity to travel, experience various cultures, and learn so much about our world.
In his role, Derek drives revenue growth by collaborating with event partners and operations, communicates the hotel’s strategic sales visions, and attends industry travel and trade shows. Derek also acts as the on-property liaison to drive awareness and exposure through Marriott sales channels.
Read on to hear more of Derek’s inspiring journey, in his own words.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
Marriott is my second family. I have made lifelong friends who have become family. It truly is the world’s best travel company.
Which of Marriott’s values resonates most with you?
Serve Our World. Participating in Marriott’s Serve 360 events has connected me to people and ideas that have positively impacted my perspective of the world we live in.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
My proudest moment so far was opening the 95th JW Marriott property, the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa. Hotel openings are always a career milestone and opening one in the middle of a global pandemic has helped increase confidence, industry knowledge, and connections with our customers on a deeper level.
What advice would you give to people interviewing at Marriott for a role like yours?
Interviews can always be intimidating, but my best advice is to do your research about the position and the property, and make sure you answer every question authentically — be yourself.
How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
My partner, David, and I love exploring the world, especially Europe. The Explore Rate has allowed us to stay in some incredible properties, including two of our favorites: Excelsior Hotel Gallia, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Milan, and Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna. This year, we are taking a Mediterranean cruise, and we are excited to experience a few of our [Marriott] properties in Italy and Switzerland before and after the cruise.