The idea occurred to Alan Campey while teaching water skiing on Lake Muskoka in northern Ontario. “I spent my summers there during high school,” he recalled over lunch at Madera in Menlo Park’s Rosewood Sand Hill, where he is Managing Director. “The basic job requirement was drive the boat safely and be able to pull people out of the water.
“Not having a sense of what I wanted to do, my brain said, ‘I like this’ and from there, I thought, ‘hospitality industry.’ I made the leap without really knowing what I was getting into.”
While a student at the University of Toronto/Ryerson Hotel School, he worked part time at the Four Seasons in Toronto. It was his first exposure to the luxury hospitality industry.
“I worked as the night clerk, going to school during the day and partying in the evening before work,” he said. “I was young, dumb and invincible!”
But Alan was smart enough to pay attention to his surroundings, learning, he explained “experientially as well as educationally…doing things that forever influenced how you handle yourself.”
He first joined Rosewood Hotels & Resorts in 1983, opening the Rosewood Crescent in Dallas. Today, as regional vice president, he manages Rosewood’s operations on the West Coast as well as the daily operations of the Menlo Park Rosewood, which earlier this year was named a five-star hotel by Forbes Travel Guide. The hotel’s restaurant, Madera, has been awarded a Michelin star every year since 2010.
Success did not come without challenges, particularly the compromises that come with working seven days a week. “That’s starting to change now,” he said. “There’s a clear separation between business and personal life. But I started at a time and place when it was all about business.”
He sees other trends as well, particularly in the area of customer experience. “Every thing and every one is moving at the speed of light,” he said. “Our guests come to us impersonally, say, through booking online. When they arrive, we need to turn it upside down and make it a personal experience, anticipating what they want and keeping it fresh.”
Throughout his four-decade career, Alan has particularly enjoyed the opportunity to be a mentor. “The things I love doing the most is helping younger management do the right thing,” he said. “We all make mistakes, but hopefully you’ll learn from them.
“My job is to be the chief resource for every employee and every manager. At a recent Rosewood group meeting, I was amazed at the number of Managing Directors who had worked for me. That was a neat feeling. And every one of them is better than me!”
Photo by Irene Searles