Mr. Sander spearheaded a successful launch of The Seagate Hotel & Spa in 2009 as the hotel’s Managing Director, and was named Executive Vice President and Director of Operations of Seagate Hospitality Group in early 2012. In addition to overseeing operations at The Seagate Hotel & Spa and the private Seagate Beach Club, Seagate Country Club and Seagate Yacht Club, Sander contributes to growing the company on a regional and national level by pursuing management contracts and partnerships, as well as adding additional properties to the company’s portfolio. With over two decades of experience at luxury hotel addresses, prior to The Seagate Hotel & Spa, Sander was General Manager of the award-winning XV Beacon hotel in Boston from development in 1999 through 2009. Before XV Beacon, Sander served as Director of Room Operations at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as Director of Food and Beverage at the Boston Harbor Hotel.
THE SANDER STORY —
It was never a specific episode in my career development per se but rather an ever-evolving moment that myself and my team realized – we have a power that many big brand hotels don’t. The power to adapt our thinking and our services to fit the needs of each individual traveler. That is what really helped to navigate my way into the hospitality industry. Rather than a single-thought philosophy, we are dedicated to generating relationship with our guests.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Successfully operating a start-up hospitality business. It’s been a driving force since the beginning. There is nothing quite as satisfying as being recognized over the years as being amongst some of the world’s best – literally from the ground up. Also, there is really something about seeing repeat guests who once visited the hotel as a child and having them come today with their own families – it never gets old.
What’s the greatest thrill you get from your position?
I have a few – seeing a concept that was once dirt arise. Continuing to grow and operate on a world-class level. Training, helping to grow and promoting employees that are truly the back bone of the success of The Seagate Hotel & Spa.
What lessons were learned from The Great Recession in ’08-’09?
Relationships are key. Our dedication to developing and maintaining loyal relationships with our guests is what keeps them coming back – through the recession and beyond.
What are Millennials searching for when making vacation or getaway plans and how are facilities, yours included, dealing with the topic?
Today, millennials are very active and look to keep themselves fit even when on vacation. At The Seagate Hotel & Spa we have a Director of Fitness and two fitness facilities for our guests to use throughout the duration of their stay. We offer premier fitness classes and private training at the Beach Club, Country Club and the Hotel. We also have Delray Watersports where the active individual can take surfing lessons, kayak, paddleboard, and/or snorkel. Additionally, The Seagate Country Club offers world-class golf on an 18-hole championship-style golf course and tennis on Har-Tru courts, fit for players of all expertise.
Finding exemplary staff is a tough chore for many facilities. What is your process in doing so?
We are so fortunate to have a staff that is dedicated to providing memorable and extraordinary experiences for guests. Our property has many employees from Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University – both of which boast top-tier hospitality programs. While their programs are truly one-of-a-kind, our interview process considers many aspects: ability, experience and most importantly, ensuring that each candidate fits into the culture of Seagate.
When you visit a property when on vacation — what’s the things you notice first?
I notice the way I am welcome by the guest service team and the ambiance of the lobby. The lobby establishes the atmosphere for the entire property, provides the first impression and sets the tone for the remainder of the trip. For example, at The Seagate Hotel & Spa, we offer our guests with a warm friendly greeting from the front desk and the 1,500 gallon Live Reef Aquarium provides a “wow” factor as soon as you enter the lobby.
All major resorts and facilities routinely tout their customer service. Define the term and the approach you take?
The guest service here is not scripted – we expect each individual employee’s personality to shine in their own way as they address each situation.
Outline some of the specific ways you implement customer service for guests coming to Seagate Hotel & Spa?
We expect our employees to greet the guest with eye contact, a smile, and to use their surname to welcome them to The Seagate Hotel & Spa. That being said, the language they use is theirs. As long as every employee uses the standards set in the training, we encourage individuality – it’s what truly sets us apart from the rest.
As we close out ’18 and head into ’19 — what’s your overall assessment of the industry and what clear challenges do you see on the horizon?
I believe the outlook over the next year for the South Florida market is promising. Looking into the future, the next Presidential Election could be a make or break year – everything is circular and it would be time for a market change.
Best advice you ever received – what was it and who from?
“You get loyalty by giving loyalty” an old Italian man told me that – found that it works in all aspects of life and business.
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Photos courtesy of: The Seagate Hotel & Spa