Take a quick glance at the online reviews left by guests of Royal Sonesta Houston, and you’re bound to come across the name Milton Aparicio.
The native of El Salvador and father of two girls has been a shining star at the hotel since joining the team six years ago. Milton wears many hats, supporting needs ranging from banquet attendant and bellman to shuttle driver – all with a smile. It’s his desire to help that has made him the perfect utility player, highly capable and eager to fill in no matter when or where hotel management needs him. But it’s his role as the 23rd floor Club Lounge Attendant where he truly shines, his impeccable hospitality skills making hotel guests feel truly special.
One guest recently commented on TripAdvisor: “Milton is outstanding – he truly cares for his guests.”
Another said: “The entire staff is wonderful, but I have to give a big shout out to Milton! His smile is welcoming, and his service is fantastic.”
It’s no surprise then, that Aparicio has been honored as Employee of the Year at the 485-room Houston landmark two years in a row. We caught up with the busy team member ahead of Employee Appreciation Day at the start of his evening shift in the lounge to talk about his job and why he loves doing what he does.
Royal Sonesta Houston: How did you start with Royal Sonesta Houston?
Milton Aparicio: I lived for 15 years in Las Vegas. Then I moved to Houston and worked for MD Anderson Cancer Center. After that, I moved to another hotel, working in room service. The shift was from 6 am until 2 pm. So sometimes, at 2:30 or 3 o’clock, I would come over to Royal Sonesta Houston and work part-time on banquets over here.
Eventually, the Club Lounge Attendant position at Royal Sonesta Houston came open, and I applied. Out of 17 applicants, I got the job.
RSH: What are some of your other roles at the hotel?
MA: In the morning, I drive the shuttle or work as a bellman. On weekends, I help with banquets as a server when there are big functions. I’ll work as a busboy if they need me.
RSH: A lot of people mention you by name on the internet review sites. Why do you think that is?
MA: This entire environment is hospitality. If don’t know what hospitality means, you’re in the wrong place. In the morning, when I’m driving the shuttle, there are a lot of business people, and I take them wherever they work around the hotel. In the evening, they come into the club lounge and they know me.
We have a lot of people that come from overseas. I have guests who come from Singapore, France, England, New Zealand, Iceland and Australia, so when they come over here, they stay one or two weeks. They come and see me every night. They see and mention the “Employee of the Year” on my name badge, and those are the people that leave me a nice review on TripAdvisor.
RSH: What is an example good hospitality to you?
MA: I know the people, I know what they like to drink. They don’t have to ask me. I always ask, ‘The same?’ and they say, ‘Yes, Milton.’ If they have kids, I order them chicken tenders, fries and pizza, something we really don’t serve in the club, but I order it for them.
The people who come back for conferences every year, they come to see me and take photos with me. One day, it was one of the conference organizer’s birthdays, so I called down to the chef and said, ‘Chef, I have a birthday’, and I gave him their name. They sent up cake, and we celebrated their birthday. It’s things like that which makes them happy.
I try to go above and beyond the guests’ expectations. The Club Lounge is my place, I know this place.
RSH: What do you like about working at Royal Sonesta Houston?
MA: I like the kind of people I help every day. The people here are sophisticated, they are business people. They are humble. They talk about their job and their family, and you get to know them well.
One guest who stays here often, he told me, ‘Milton, my friends, my neighbors, everyone knows you!’ There was someone who was on the phone with someone, and he said, ‘I’m with Milton.’ And the other person on the phone said, ‘Oh, you’re in Houston!’
RSH: Do you have any highlights of working in the Club Lounge?
MA: Villanova’s men’s basketball team stayed here during the Final Four, which they won. And the families, friends and players stayed on the 20th, 21st and 22nd floors. They were here every night during their eight days in Houston. Everyone was happy after they won.
RSH: How important is teamwork to the success of the hospitality offerings at the hotel?
MA: There are staff – like those who work in the kitchen – who don’t interact with guests, but they are part of the hotel. We are all working together to help each other towards the same goal of giving guests great hospitality and to make their stay memorable.