These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rik Blyth was recently hired as general manager at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role as general manager?
I have been here for two weeks, but I have always loved the Southwest. I grew up just south of Denver and would travel to Albequerque with my dad. Being here has given me the chance to learn the culture and explore the area. There is a great climate here – they have 300 of sunshine every year. The opportunity for me to run a historic hotel here is very special.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
I ran resorts in the Carribean for almost 25 years. I have an understanding of the importance of the sense of place. A hotel can't overwhelm that. Surroundings are crucial to an understanding of the local history. When I worked at the Caneel Bay Resort on St. John Island in the Virgin Islands we celebrated 50 years. Not many hotels have been around for 50 or 100 years, but I have this historic hotel background that will be useful.
3. How did you get into the industry?
Like many teenagers, I wasn't making enough money on my paper route, so my dad got me a job as a pot washer at a resort in Wisconsin. From there I was promoted to dishwasher and then waiter, and the industry got into my blood. I worked at the front desk and bartended summers in college and found how much I enjoy being out and about with people. If you work hard and show you want to accept responsibility, you'll get it.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
The La Fonda is already a very successful hotel from the standpoint of occupation and rates. The team is delightful and very guest centric, which was key for me. In my first few days here, I told my team that I can't be a caretaker. I have to challenge myself and my team every day. I want to look in the mirror every day and think how I can improve myself and how my team can improve in what we're doing. I don't have those answers yet, but I am inspired by Vince Lombardi's words: "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence." Those words are on a plaque on my desk, and that's what I'm working towards here.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
Every day is different. You never know what you'll encounter. Some days you'll feel like you're getting overpaid, some days you'll feel like you're getting underpaid. You meet people from all walks of life, and every so often you have a small-world moment, and find connections with the people you meet. That's what I love.