Watch out, Martha Stewart, as you have some stiff competition from Marcilene Smith. Smith was brought up in a self-described crafty family. “If you give me a box of Popsicle sticks, I’ll create something out of it,” she jokes. Indeed, creating is what Smith does best. As event coordinator for The Emerson Resort & Spa in New York’s Catskills, she’s knee-deep into crafting unforgettable experiences for guests. In addition to the property’s own events, including the North Pole (complete with hanging snowflakes to create the illusion of falling snow), the annual car show and Fall Fest, Smith estimates she handles an additional 50 events annually. While the events range from intimate dinner parties and gatherings to full-fledged buyout weddings, Smith shepherds each event from beginning to end. “I get to really know the people because I sell the event, plan it and then execute it,” she says.
Similar to many in the industry, Smith stumbled into the business during college as a way to pay the bills. “I worked at an inn with a full-service restaurant and after graduation I came back. I stayed for 10 years,” she says. After the inn was sold, she found a new home at The Emerson and has never looked back. That was 13 years ago, but this boutique resort with 53 rooms, a full-service spa, restaurant and three distinct function spaces perfectly suits the energetic planner. “You definitely have to think on your feet in this job. You might have to tend bar or expedite in the kitchen. You have to be prepared for anything!” Despite wearing so many hats, Smith thrives in the hustle and bustle. “It never gets boring or dull around here. There’s always something that needs to be done.”
Smith credits her background in food and beverage for helping her advance in her career. “F&B is the foundation of every event,” she says before adding, “the shock and awe is décor.” Décor isn’t just where she shows off her talent, it’s also where she feels most rewarded. “There’s always that moment when a guest walks in and says, ‘Wow, you did this with that little bit we filled out in a box?’ We get to create their vision.”