Name: Gabriel C.
Position: Modern Select Brands Operations Voyager
Hotel: Residence Inn Alexandria Old Town/Duke Street
Dream destination: I would love to go to Southeast Asia and tour different countries. I love nature, and Southeast Asia is home to many different cultures and beautiful natural scenery, and there are a lot of Marriott properties there too 😉
Drink or treat of choice: I love coffee! It’s one of my favorite drinks and it’s easily turned into a social drink as well. Business meeting? Grab a coffee. Catching up with a friend? Grab a coffee. Going on a date? Grab a coffee. Going to work? Bring coffee for the team.
When you begin working in a hotel for the first time, it can feel like staring at a daunting, 1,000-piece puzzle without the box top for reference — you’re excited by the opportunities ahead of you, but unsure of how or where to start. For Gabriel, taking part in Marriott’s Voyage program was the key that aligned all the pieces, the box top that clearly mapped out the big picture of how a hotel operates.
“I placed an emphasis on learning about other departments’ operations and procedures,” Gabriel says of his experience in Marriott’s development program for recent college graduates. “Having this understanding gives me a good sense of how the hotel runs as a whole.”
Although Gabriel’s love of food had him first considering a culinary career, Gabriel decided on hospitality and studied it at the University of Delaware with minors in spa and wellness management and economics. He applied to Marriott’s Voyage program in the summer of 2021, and, after a couple rounds of interviews, Gabriel received offers for different positions and locations: working at the front office in Kansas City; housekeeping in New Orleans; or as the one he chose, a Modern Select Brands Operations Voyager at the Residence Inn Alexandria Old Town/Duke Street.
“I chose this one based on my location and discipline preferences and have loved every minute of it ever since,” he says. At the DC-adjacent hotel, his duties include overseeing different hotel areas, but mostly front desk operations. “I am our staff service champion, ensuring our lofty service goals are met and exceeded every day.”
Days before publishing this story, Gabriel shared some exciting news: He completed the Voyage program and accepted a position as the Operations Manager at the Residence Inn Fairfax City!
“The Voyage program prepared me well and is setting me up for success,” says Gabriel. “I like managing big teams across multiple departments.”
Learn more about how Gabriel made the most of Marriott’s Voyage Program, in his own words, below.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
I feel valued for who I am and for what I do. My team and I work well together, and we achieve greatness through our dedication, our knowledge, and our teamwork. I spend a large portion of my day with my team, and we have grown so close over the last year. I also have been invited as an emerging leader to Marriott HQ several times, learning all about high-level operations and honing my leadership skills.
Describe a moment you felt supported at Marriott.
I feel supported every time I meet with my Voyage Coach. He is a great resource to me, he is teaching me how to do the job, but more importantly, how to lead a successful team. He makes me feel supported at work and outside of work as well. He works very hard to balance everyone’s schedules to promote a good work-life balance. He looks at the hotel as a machine and rearranges the parts frequently to be more efficient and to make as many people as possible happy, including guests.
What has been the most impactful moment of your Marriott experience?
When I plan and execute celebrations for our associates. Associate Appreciation Week was a very poignant time for me, as I got to plan and attend many different celebrations including a boat cruise on the Potomac River, many different lunches, and associate celebrations. This was a great time for me to bond with my team while away from work.
Can you describe a moment you felt like a part of a community at Marriott.
When I was invited to go to HQ to participate in a Voyager photo and video shoot to promote the program. It was a great way to connect with other Voyagers, as well as explore Marriott’s HQ space, and to further the Voyager Program’s success.
How would you describe Marriott’s culture?
I really feel that the core values embody the culture of Marriott. Most notably, “Put People First. Take care of associates and they will take care of the customers”. I always, always, always will put my team first. In taking care of my team, I am indirectly taking care of guests, beyond the ones I directly interact with. This creates a culture of valuing each and every member of the team, as well as having each other’s backs. At my hotel, we all pitch in to help wherever needed. Cross-department communication is strong amongst the teams in my hotel, and we place a heavy emphasis on lending a helping hand to those who need it.
What is your favorite part of the job?
Connecting with people, guests and associates alike. Absolutely. I have made great connections over the desk — and behind the desk too — that will last many years. As a hospitality leader, I have an intrinsic desire to connect with people of all backgrounds and learn about them as people. I love connecting with my team and finding out how I can support them.
What does a good day at work look like for you?
When I learn something new. I am a very curious person and love to learn new things, either through conversations or exploring new technologies. I also get satisfaction when I am able to help others, so a good day is when I can help someone out with a specific issue.