This month’s Meet the GM column features the General Manager of Sonesta Silicon Valley – Mark Ernst. We’ve enjoyed getting to know Mark, both during his previous position at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans and now through his time at Silicon Valley. Now, we’d love to introduce you to this important member of our team. Check out our Q& A with Mark below!

Q: What do you like most about working within and leading a hotel?  

A: The hotel business is never boring and presents different challenges every day. As much as it is a joy to meet new guests and wow them with outstanding service and amenities, it is working with the employees on a daily basis is what keeps me engaged.  When friends ask me why I chose hospitality with working nights, weekends and long hours, I always tell them that it is developing employees into leaders that is the greatest satisfaction for me.  Watching an employee grow and become something they didn’t think they were capable of makes all the sacrifices worth it.

Q: During your time with Sonesta – what role/opportunity have you enjoyed or do you look forward to most? 

The 5 years I spent at The Royal Sonesta New Orleans was truly the most challenging and rewarding job I’ve had. Having the opportunity to lead the operations of a property of that complexity was thrilling.  Particularly, the incredible Food & Beverage outlets (Restaurant R’evolution, Desire Oyster Bar and Jazz Playhouse) really make that property a one of a kind, even for New Orleans.  I am now looking forward to leading Sonesta Silicon Valley through this amazing transformation that will make this hotel “Best in Class” in this area.  I am truly excited for what the future holds for this property.

Q: In your opinion, what has been your hotel’s most successful Amazing Moment? 

A: At this point, our property’s most amazing moment is in the future, when we welcome our first guest to experience our fully renovated hotel.  I can’t wait for them to experience our modern new design, outstanding service and taste the delicious creations in Manzanita Restaurant.

Q: If you weren’t a hotelier, what would you be? 

A: I would be a Psychologist, I am an observer and find human behavior fascinating.  It was also my major in college for my first 2 years.  Funny enough, I feel I get to lead therapy sessions quite often in the hospitality business.

Q: As a new resident, what do you enjoy most about living in San Jose? 

A: The weather and outdoors here are absolutely amazing.  You can drive a few hours and be at Yosemite National Park, the Pacific Ocean, Lake Tahoe or Napa Valley.

Q: Name your favorite place to visit — any destination in the world. 

A: I would have to say Mexico has been my favorite place to visit to this point.  I love Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. I haven’t been to Italy or Spain yet, so I suspect this answer will change one day.

Q: Name three items you absolutely do not travel without. 

A: My laptop, headphones and a big bottle of water.  I can deal with a whole day of travel if I have those 3 things.

Q: What is something your guests would be surprised to know about you?  

A:I started my career in the restaurant business working with Chef Emeril Lagasse every day.  I worked through the ranks at his flagship restaurant, Emeril’s, and became General Manager of Emeril’s Delmonico when I was 30 years old.  I also took the time to study wine and become a Certified Sommelier. Tasting and learning about wine is still a big hobby of mine today.

Did you fine any of Mark’s answers interesting or surprising? Leave us a comment below! And, the next time you stay at Sonesta Silicon Valley, be sure to say hello to our treasured GM, Mark Ernst!