Rhys O'Connell, Hotelier
- November 2020
Hotelier Rhys O'Connell and His Two Decades in Hospitality
IN FORBES MAGAZINE, YAHOO!, NY WEEKLY & MEDIUM
Media Man Group continues to interview the best of
the best in their field. We have followed the career
of Rhys for many years and he continues to beat and
absolutely conquer the odds. Read up on his success
and path in the highly competitive hotels industry,
that brought him from Adelaide, South Australia to
Las Vegas and beyond.
ambitious beginnings in the Hyatt Groups food
and beverage department in Australia, Rhys OConnell
now thrives as an integral part of North Americas
hospitality industry. For 20 years, his dynamic energy
and finely honed skills have been well utilized in
hotel operations from Front Desk Agent to General
Manager for some of Californias most iconic
2011 at the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel, Rhys slid easily
into a professional life at the only hotel on Beverly
Hills iconic Rodeo Drive. Within the walls and
grounds of the contemporary yet elegant property,
he found his niche while expanding expertise as Assistant
General Manager, which was multi faceted including
Housekeeping Manager and Assistant to the Director
of Sales. His constant staff training to Forbes Criteria,
along with hands-on assistance in everything from
maintenance to sales and guest services, maximized
company profits and facilitated a 30-percent improved
rating on Tripadvisor, which saw a significant increase
of annual rate and occupancy.
2015, prestige beckoned convincingly with a directors
position at one of North Americas most luxurious
hotels, Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. As
the Director of Front Office, Rhys teamed with the
Revenue Managers to increase ADR with innovative custom
packages promoting Spa, Valet, Food and Beverage and
Pool features for maximum customer satisfaction. His
training skills transformed everything from the Reservations
department to the Rooms division, raising standards
in accordance with the Leading Hotels of the World.
his way south to north across the Golden State, Rhys
accumulated skills in management with the Inn at Moonlight
Beach in San Diego. Before departing for the San Francisco
area, he had spearheaded projects leading to the inns
achievement of becoming the Worlds first WELL
standard building in hospitality.
O'Connell and Marcus Mueller representing the Luxe
Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA
continues to benefit from the vivacious professional
capabilities of Rhys OConnell as he expertly
fills the role of General Manager throughout COVID-19
at one of San Franciscos finest properties.
Under his watch, the four-star, 371-room Union property
has taken its place as a Conde Nast Top Ten Hotel.
The property benefited from his hiring as Director
of Operations, bringing finely honed skills to introducing
new management styles in operational divisions and
enabling increases in RevPar, ADR and GOP. He also
maximized company spending in multiple areas while
recruiting and training employees that led him to
receive a nomination for Most Valuable Player
award for 2020.
the best advice you can give to people who want to
get to the next level in the hotel industry?
believe that as a leader, motivating and inspiring
people is one of the most important roles. The words
you say, and how you use them are your most powerful
tool. The basis to structure a high-performing team,
ask positive questions that inspire energy and action,
affirm team members contributions, make knowledge-sharing
possible and build strong connections.
separates you from your competition?
believe that the core of a high-functioning culture
must be a transparent and honest leadership because
a strong company culture can help weather any storm
or crisis. One thing I try to instill in my team is
that there's no expiration date on moments and memories.
As Dr. Suess once stated, "Sometimes you will
never know the value of a moment, until it becomes
O'Connell with family and friends of the Inn at Moonlight
Beach in San Deigo, CA
process do you follow when you are in the hiring stage?
people based on personality and not necessarily experience
so you can extract their best strengths and mold each
individual for success. Character grows out a persons
mindset. You cant touch it, but somehow you
know its there and while talent and ability
can get someone to the top, it really does take character
to keep them there.
care of the person on your left, take care of the
person on your right, and everything else will take
care of itself."
would you describe being a leader in the hotel industry?
a leader in a hotel is an artful and versatile position
as no other business has so many different masters
in such a wide palette of expertise's under one roof.
From the expert in selling to intriguing wine knowledge,
artful cooking, mechanical engineers, IT and system
analysts to thorough accountants and motivational
speakers. The success for the manager is getting everyone
aligned and motivated as well as inspired to advance.
Hospitality is a craft!
do you see yourself in five years?
main focus is to continue in creating unforgettable
memories for both our guests and team members while
growing and expanding my skills, learning from my
incredible mentors and sharing it with others. Success
is all about growing others and adding value.
note: We look forward to continuing to watch this
remarkable man's rise to the top of the business.
If there was ever an inspirational story on an individual
in the hotel and resorts sector, this it it.