The hotel industry has always been inherently unique. A business with many specialists and moving parts working seamlessly, reminiscent of an orchestra. Just as any great orchestra has an equally great maestro, Rhys O’Connell is a name in the hospitality and hotel industry that speaks of coordination, mastery, and excellence.
Rhys O’Connell has spent the last two decades rising through the ranks to become an integral part of the hospitality industry in North America. He began his career in the Hyatt Group’s food and beverage department in Australia. Known for his compelling dynamic energy, he honed his skills in hotel operations, going from Front Desk Agent to General Manager while working for some of the most elegant hotel properties in California.
Rhys carved a niche for himself while working as the Assistant General Manager at the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel – itself, a testament to his credentials as it was the only hotel on Beverly Hills’ iconic Rodeo Drive. His role at the hotel was multifaceted and included doubling as Assistant to the Director of Sales and Housekeeping Manager. Between 2011 and 2015, he expanded his expertise, delivering excellence across the board from maintenance to staff training and maximized company profit. This led to a 30 percent increase in rating by Tripadvisor.
In 2015, Rhys was offered the Director’s position at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica – one of the most luxurious hotels in North America. Again, his masterful touch was evident in the transformations he implemented. Breathing new life into the overall guest experience and raising the hotel standards to that of Leading Hotels of the World.
Moving from the south to north across the State of California, Rhys has left a trail of distinction and superior quality in his wake. He spearheaded projects at the Inn at Moonlight Beach in San Diego, earning the world’s first WELL standard building in hospitality for the establishment. At San Francisco, Rhys has filled the role of General Manager all through the COVID-19 pandemic. His exemplary and stellar leadership saw the 4-star, 371-room property become recognized as one of Conde Nast Top Ten Hotels.
“I 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.” – Rhys O’Connell.
Speaking of his unconventional approach to hiring, he elects to hire people not necessarily because of their expertise but places a higher priority on their personality. According to him, “Character grows out a person’s mindset,” and while ability and talent can take someone to the heights of any endeavor, their character is the quality that keeps them there. He believes that once “character” is in place, it becomes a comparatively more straightforward task to improve on their strengths and train each individual to world-class standards.
Hospitality is the first introduction to any person, establishment, or environment. Despite his many successes, Rhys’ motivation remains simple – to create unforgettable memories for his guests and his team members. He believes that there is no real success until you have grown others and added value.
“Gaining trust in the workplace takes a lot of effort – it’s a by-product of an individual’s confidence of being cared for and valued while on the job. It eliminates anxiety and manages potential stress points, and this creates the culture of an organization.” – Rhys O’Connell.
Rhys O’Connell has left his mark on the hospitality and hotel industry. He continues to be an inspiration to up and coming hoteliers. He intends ever to remain a student of the industry – learning from his mentors and sharing his experience with others.
Learn more about Rhys O’Connell on Twitter.