MM: So, I have opened 7 hotels now so far for Sonesta. It’s been a fun ride. I have been here almost five years and since I have been here we have done a lot throughout the hotel. The biggest achievement is really accomplishing things with your team. You can come up with an idea but if you don’t get your team to rally around it, it’s not going to happen. So that’s how I manage this hotel. Everything that we do, I run it by my teams. Any new idea we have in the restaurants, I ask the staff, because the staff knows it better than anyone.
Take coffee breaks for example. If I have a new idea about how to do a coffee break here, I am going to ask my coffee server who actually does the job and serves the coffee, what they think. They actually do the job and hear what the clients want, so I choose to manage that way. I am never in my office. I choose to be up on the floors checking things. If you are in your office you can manage numbers, but you can’t manage a hotel. You can’t manage the people, and that’s what sells the hotel. It’s the people. It’s not the bricks and mortar, it’s the people.
Well I came here and my second project was to redo the Riverside Terrace. It used to be rocks, no flooring, just rocks and a tree. I knew we could make money and make it a banquet facility outside. So we had to cut a tree down and I organized it and they cut the tree down and one of my managers said ‘Hey, do you realize today is Earth Day?’ and I couldn’t believe it. So that’s the first thing to learn when you are a General Manager, check the calendar! I couldn’t believe I had done that on Earth Day. However, it is the best thing we ever did, because now we have 3000 square feet of outside terrace. So it was a great idea, just the wrong date to do it.
RB: What are your plans for the future?
MM: I’d like to work for the corporate office and help to continue to grow our Sonesta brand; that is what I’d like to do. I offer a lot on the hotel level and I go to all the different hotels. I think one of the best things I do is that I really listen to people, and I think that’s the most important thing you can do.
The future plans for the hotel are exciting. With the renovation that we just went through; we aren’t done yet. When people ask me what’s next? What else are you going to do? We do have a plan. We are putting in some ethanol fire pits outside next week which will extend the outside space season into the fall which is really tremendous. No one in Cambridge has these. Because of our location with these extraordinary skyline views, it will extend our season – people love being outside. It will be great for the ArtBar and for the Riverside Terrace. And it will be great to further promote the Royal Sonesta Boston as a food and beverage hotel.
With the old design, before our just-completed renovation, the entry to the hotel was more of a long hallway but now we have expanded the lobby, made it more beautiful and welcoming, and we’ve added outlets such as Studio Coffee & Pastry and Motif, the lobby cocktail lounge. So I’m really excited to see what my culinary team can create with these new opportunities. I want to create unique experiences and use local product, and that is what it’s all about. We are all about Food is Art, and that’s what the Sonesta brand hangs its hat on.
Our food is made in house, we use local vendors, we’ve expanded our pastry shop making it twice the size it had been. When times were tight and people were closing pastry departments, we doubled ours in space and staffing, because we pride ourselves on our product and know that people expect the most delicious food and beverage from the Sonesta brand. It also elevated the morale in the entire team, especially the kitchen staff, to see so much attention and support given to members of the culinary team. Our pastry kitchen now has a window overlooking the employee cafeteria so they are excited to see our staff enjoying all the treats.
We just opened Studio Coffee & Pastry Shop in lobby; we sell PJ’s coffee which is a New Orleans based coffee that I cupped for a Royal Sonesta blend, and we offer so many different tastes in Studio that I’m excited to see it taking off. I can’t wait to see what will happen with it in the next year; we are offering more catering off premises and there’s more to come.