These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donna Esparza was recently named director of sales & marketing for Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
Truly, I love this industry. I have been a Director of Sales and Marketing for close to 28 years. I look forward to working with Benchmark Hospitality, they are innovative in their thinking. I look forward to directing my sales and catering team to new heights, literally. The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa, a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel has so much to offer to our guests, and I am enjoying selling every aspect of the hotel. The guest rooms, the meeting space, our Spa of the Pines, Bin 189 Restaurant and Bar, not to mention all of the seasonal amenities, i.e. boating, fishing, kayaking, paddle boards, bonfires on the beach with s’mores and skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking nearby! The views of Lake Arrowhead from our guest rooms, private beach and Wedding Deck are phenomenal. We offer an experiential memory to our guests!
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
Working with Marriott for most of my career has prepared me to work at this beautiful Autograph Collection Hotel and Spa.
3. How did you get into the industry?
Funny story…I actually started my hospitality career at this very hotel, it was a different brand at that time. I live in Lake Gregory, which is about a 12-minute commute to Lake Arrowhead, and when I moved up to the mountains, I thought I would try and work on the mountain. When I applied at the hotel, the only opening was a banquet captain position. I took the position as this was the best opportunity that was extended to me. One day I was getting ready for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon for 300 guests, and I was asked to go to the ballroom as the owner would like to speak to me. The owner said to me that he was told that I could sing, their entertainment for the luncheon was delayed and would not be able to make it to the luncheon to perform the “Lake Arrowhead Song.” He asked me if I would be willing to learn this song and sing at the luncheon. Lucky for me, I sing by ear and heard the song a couple of times and was good to go. After the luncheon, the owner thanked me and asked, what are your aspirations? I explained that eventually, I would like to work in the sales department as I had experience selling weddings and social events. Within three weeks, I was promoted to the sales department as he created a telemarketing position for me. I was on my way to a wonderful career, and you never know what door will open for you if you take the plunge.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
I would like to achieve a great STAR report, an incredible PACE report, surpass budget and have VERY happy clients, guests, owners, and management company! What more could a girl want? I want to make a difference! I have done this before and plan on doing it again.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
This is one of my favorite situations that happens often in our industry as we never say “no.” Here is the scenario…we booked a meeting in the ballroom, classroom style for 250 and a dinner later that evening in rounds of 8 for 300. The meeting runs over and we now have a tight turn for the dinner. That is when “all hands on deck” is in full swing. It is so rewarding to see all the managers and supervisors come together as a team to make it happen for our guests.