Richard Basch: How did you get into this?
Michael Medeiros: Well that’s interesting. I got in by a fluke. I first worked part-time as a waiter at a hotel. I had always wanted to do it. But the interesting this is, when I applied to be a waiter the banquet manager declined my application. So I called back the next day and said “I’m sorry, but I could definitely be a waiter, I’m all about personal service, I know I can do it, so I will give you an option. (Back then you could do this!) I said I’ll work for you for two weeks for free and if you like me then you’ll hire me. And he said okay, and I worked for two weeks and he hired me and I’ve been doing this now for 28 years.
RB: What was your schooling?
MM:I went to UMass and studied banking, so really nothing to do with hotels. I used to be in the car business, on the finance side.
I got into the hotel business because my wife was working and wanted to stay home when we had children, so we decided she would get a job as a waitress and work a couple nights a week at night, and be able to stay home with the children during the day. And I’m a work-aholic – and I think I had 4 jobs going, but I was bored, so I went to be a waiter too.
A funny story, when my parents were moving out of the house we grew up in, they cleaned out their attic, and they found papers from when I was a little kid. They found a paper from when I was 9 or 10, and it was a school paper that asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ and I wrote “I want to be a Hotel General Manager.” So my parents called me right up and said ‘you’r e not going to believe this, but look at what we just found’ – and I said maybe it’s just fate.
RB: So you worked your way up from waiter to…
Michael: Well, I was working part-time as the banquet server in a hotel in the suburbs and the Hotel’s general manager said I’d like you to be my Banquet Manager, and I laughed. I explained that this was a part-time job for me, that I worked full time in a car dealership doing finance, and the General Manager said I really think you should be in the hotel business. So I gave it some thought and I went from working 40 hours a week in a nice job to now working 75 hours a week for a little bit less money as a Banquet Manager, and I said well this is kind of crazy and I did that for 6 months. Then I knew someone here at the Royal Sonesta Boston and they hired me as the Assistant Banquet Manager here, and that was 23 ½ years ago here!
So I worked my way up as the Assistant Banquet Manager, Banquet Manager, then I became the Convention Director and then I moved to New Orleans to be the Food & Beverage Director. I had no interest in moving to New Orleans at first, but the General Manager there called me and said he wanted me to come down there. I went down to New Orleans and fell in love with the city. I came back here and convinced my wife to move to New Orleans. We are both from the Boston area and we had two kids. But we packed up our belongings and two kids and moved down to New Orleans.
My new position was Food & Beverage Director opening a smaller hotel with 250 guest rooms with 10,000 square feet of function space and it was awesome. The best experience I’ve had in my life. And then I moved to Florida to Miami, we opened Trump International Sonesta Beach. I was the 3rd employee hired ; I hired all my staff and was the Food & Beverage Director there for two years and then they called me to return to New Orleans to the Royal Sonesta New Orleans which was a big hotel with 483 rooms and I went there to be the Food & Beverage Director.
I loved Miami and being on the beach, but my friends at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans convinced me to come back to New Orleans, and I worked for Hans Wandfluh, an amazing icon in the city of New Orleans, he was the GM for 26 years at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans. He was Swiss, a true hotelier. I went to work for him and it was totally awesome. I was the F&B Director for 5 ½ years and then I got promoted to Director of Hotel Operations. I did that for 3 ½ years, and then I got the nod to come here to the Royal Sonesta Boston, and this is where I’m from so of course I was thrilled.
I am the GM of this hotel and I am also the F&B expert within the Sonesta company, so I go around to all the new Sonesta hotels and I handle the F&B operations for these new hotels to get them online and in good working order. It includes restaurants, banquets, conferences – I write the banquet manuals, I train everyone, I set it all up I make sure they are running beautifully as Sonestas, and then I return here to do my job here.