2015 Hospitality Professional of the Year: Rafael Avalos
Director of Housekeeping
Hilton Santa Fe North Buffalo Thunder
What was your first job in the hospitality industry?
My first Job was as a Turndown Att. at Leows Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, AZ. I was 18yrs old. I had a friend named Nick and his mother, Rosa, worked there and she helped me get the job. It was a fun job I would provide secondary service to guest rooms, we would do guest requests/deliveries, we also took up dry cleaning. It was a fun experience.
Who has helped/mentored you through your career?
I had several people that always encouraged me and mentored me. The first person was Bill Grant, he was a night Housekeeping manager. He gave me my first job at Ventana Canyon and later on he was an Executive Housekeeper at Westward Look Resort where he hired me as a night supervisor.
The next person was Alan Klein. He was the Rooms Division Manager at Westward Look Resort. He would challenge me by giving me projects to help improve the resort for guests as well as for fellow team members.
The one thing I always felt was if I would work hard/smarter, my supervisor would recognize my hard work and I would be able to connect with them. I am a big believer of hard work pays off and with that, positive word of mouth would help my career.
What has been the highlight of your career?
The first time I was promoted to Floor Inspector at Ventana Canyon, I think I was around 21 years old. I was so happy. Then I realized how stressful it was, but I figured out how to deal with that. The second time was when I was promoted to Assistant Executive Housekeeper at Westward Look Resort. And the 3rd one was when I was promoted to Director of Housekeeping at Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder.
The thing that I am always proud of is the staff. It is truly amazing how on the busiest days, all of the staff comes together in order to clean and maintain a Hotel: from the guest rooms to the public areas. At the end of the day, that is what I am proud of because guest don’t realize what truly happens behind the scenes in order to keep the hotels clean and have rooms ready for their arrival.
What is one thing you would tell young people entering the hospitality business?
Work hard and have fun. It will pay off: everything you do come back at the end. Don’t expect things to be given to you, go out there and make things happen. When challenges occur, what will you do to fix those challenges? If you need time to think then take the time to think in order to make the best decision. The last thing I would say is don’t be afraid ask for help or advice, that help will allow you grow and may help you from stumbling.
What are your favorite places to visit in New Mexico?
I love the Santa Fe Plaza, just to walk and enjoy the day...no matter what season. The drive to Taos in the Fall...seeing the leaves change colors.
If you weren’t in the hospitality business, what would you be doing?
I really don’t know. Maybe working in some type of accounting. The only thing I do know is that I would work hand and have fun at any career I had.
Nominations NOW OPEN!
KNOW SOMEONE LIKE RAFAEL? Got an employee you want to brag about?