Deci Connelly is one of the few current Ritz-Carlton employees who wasn’t there when the property opened its doors to the public on May 15 of last year. That’s because the department she oversees—the Ritz-Carlton’s Club® Lounge—didn’t open until October. As I’ve previously mentioned in a past blog, Ritz-Carlton’s Club® Access grants guests entry to a select, cozy space that makes available not only luxurious seating in a particularly polished, subdued setting but five distinct food presentations daily—not to mention a standard of concierge-style cservice that ensures that a guest’s every expectation is exceeded.
With more than two decades of hospitality industry experience—including serving as director of sales for KSL Resorts Group’s La Quinta Resort and Club—Deci is no newcomer to the desert. I recently caught up with her one evening, and had the opportunity to ask her about the five top things she loves most about her job. Guess where we had our chat? In the Club® Lounge, of course!
In no particular order, Deci says she loves having been given the opportunity to open this new department of the resort. She also adores seeing guests’ reactions to the Club® Lounge’s Cookie and Candy Bar. “It’s the most popular spot in the lounge,” says Deci of the sweets display that overflows with freshly made riches. “It evokes ‘ooohhhs’ and ‘aaahhhs’ from kids of all ages!”
Next, Deci says she loves her workplace’s homelike setting: the warm fireplace, cozy living room seating, and table settings. “I love hearing the laughter of a family that has settled in for a night of board games and hot chocolate,” she says. “They’re making great memories, and we get to be a part of it. Chatting further about this, Deci concedes that number four would be the connection she gets to make with each guest while she plays a small part in their experience of the property, in particular, and the desert in general.
“I love that I am paid to be my grandmother,” says Deci as we wind up our meeting. “The Club® Lounge is a bit like going to Grandma’s house. She was the kind of lady who was not satisfied unless you were eating or drinking something. It was always fun to go to her house, and we couldn’t wait to see what plans she had made for us. Then she’d stuff cookies in our pockets and say, ‘Go, play nicely with the other children, and come home before dark.’ Our approach to the Club® Lounge is modeled after this pattern. Our mission is to offer the ultimate escape from everyday life by providing unparalleled personal care to our guests … just like Grandma.”
I wish all grandmothers could be like Deci’s. But at least Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage guests and I now have The Club® Lounge.