This month’s Meet the GM post takes us to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to meet Michelle O’Brien, General Manager at Sonesta ES Suites Portland – Vancouver. Read on to get to know Michelle, to learn why she loves the Portland area so much, and what she enjoys most about her job,
Q: What do you like most about working within and leading a hotel?
A: The fact that I learn something new almost every day. Working in a hotel is never boring and you never know what you’ll get from one day to the next.
Q: Since joining Sonesta – what opportunity have you enjoyed the most?
A: Staying at the Sonesta ES Colorado Springs for my GM training was so much fun. My training with Taves and his team was the most thorough training I’ve ever had coming into a new job. It made me feel really good to know that the company cared so much about my success and growth that they would make this huge investment in my future as an ES GM.
Q: In your opinion, what has been your hotel’s most successful Everyday Surprise?
A: Our biggest success has been that we have all managed to work through the Covid-19 shutdown as a fully functional team. We have not once failed to bring our A game to our guests. Everyone has maintained a positive, can-do attitude, and it has given our guests a sense of normalcy that is so hard to find right now. I think that making guests feel comfortable and safe is a pretty big accomplishment right now! It may not actually be the definition of an Everyday Surprise but it sure does surprise our guests every day that we are here for them.
Q: If you weren’t a hotelier, what would you be?
A: I would be a homeless advocate. I like to volunteer, and over the years I’ve worked at shelters for homeless families and women trying to escape abusive relationships. We all need help at times and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a network of friends and family to help me when I needed it. The thought that there are people out there who don’t have that same support is heartbreaking. It’s so rewarding to be there for people in their time of need.
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in greater Portland/Vancouver?
A: The thing I love the most is that it’s so green here all year-round! I know we get a bad rap for all of the rain, but there is nothing more beautiful than hiking through an old growth forest with a green carpet of ferns surrounding you. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a Hobbit movie!
Q: Name your favorite place to visit — any destination in the world.
A: The Gulf of Mexico is one of my favorite places to visit. The towns are so quaint and colorful and it’s just so different from where I live. Adventuring out into the gulf on a small boat while dolphins and turtles randomly appear is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced!
Q: Name three items you absolutely do not travel without.
A: Sunscreen, backpack and a local guidebook.
Q: What is something your guests would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I am adopted and 20 years ago I found my birth mom. I am very close to her now and we text, talk and travel together regularly. I have 10 siblings – 8 from my adopted family