Anne Marie Whelan simply can’t believe it’s been almost a year since she left her home, family, and friends in Dublin, Ireland—15-year-old son Daniel in tow—and moved lock, stock, and barrel to the Palm Springs Valley to assume the exhilarating responsibilities of director of sales and marketing for The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. “One of the things that strikes me, looking back, is the friendliness of everyone in the community,” says the 45-year-old brunette beauty. “Not just at the hotel company but throughout the destination. Everyone in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, and the other desert cities. It’s made it so much easier for us to settle in.”
While Anne Marie had been to California on multiple occasions during her 10-year tenure with the company, she’d never been to the Palm Springs Valley. Most recently having served as the director of sales and marketing at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt just outside of Dublin, she was ready for a change. And so, she applied for the desert position sight unseen. Arriving at Palm Springs International Airport last September for her face-to-face interview with general manager Doug Watson and other members of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage team, she was hit first by the heat. “That was the big difference between here and home,” she says, smiling, adding that she was also immediately taken by the beauty and vibrancy of the Palm Springs Valley—not to mention by the physical appeal of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage property. She got the job, flew back home to pack up and collect her son, and was back the next month. All this without any reservation, pun entirely intended.
“I wasn’t just starting a new job in a different country,” she says. “I was transplanting a 15-year-old into a new school, a whole new life. It was a big leap of faith.” One she couldn’t have made without the deep faith she has in the Ritz-Carlton brand. “What is important for me and my family is the trust in the company. I knew in my heart that we could make this move in confidence. The trust in our gold standards and the fact that The Ritz-Carlton makes an employee promise to all the ladies and gentlemen who work for the company, it all made us feel very much at ease.”
Anne Marie and Daniel chose to settle in Rancho Mirage not only for its proximity to her workplace but for its more quiet vibe and the quality of its high school. Despite missing their family and friends back home, the two have had a desert experience that has exceeded their every expectation in the last 12 months. “I’m an Irish person living in America who’s had the chance to do something I’ve never done—be part of a Ritz-Carlton hotel launch, for a brand I love so much,” she says. “It’s been quite special.” As for Daniel? “He’s a six-foot-two, teenaged sophomore soccer player in Rancho Mirage. He’s loving it. We’re spoiled!” www.ritzcarlton.com/ranchomirage