These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Debra Floeder, Laura Needham and Carl Deeken were recently hired as the director of sales, assistant general manager, and general manager of Celeste St. Paul Hotel, to open Oct. 30.
1. What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?
Debra Floeder: It is a privilege for me to represent this meticulously restored boutique property and welcome guests with a tasteful simplicity, creating a home-away-from-home experience every time. Celeste St. Paul offers a standard of service and comfort matched only by its quality of character.
Laura Needham: Being part of the leadership team that is thoughtfully transforming an historic space into a unique and beautiful boutique hotel experience for visiting guests. The opportunity to define the services and amenities that distinguish Celeste St. Paul from competing hotels.
Carl Deeken: Working with my new team as we bring life back to this amazing building.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
DF: I have served individual travelers along with creating, purchasing and operating group events across the globe. It is with a gained appreciation and foundation of international foods, history, cultures, climates and traditions, I look to share creative resources with the highest personalized service standards.
LN: My past roles have included general manager, executive chef, and wine director – each role affording me the opportunity to focus on a different branch of hospitality. As Assistant General Manager of Celeste St. Paul, I have the chance to put all my skills to work as I develop the food and beverage program, assist in implementing operating systems and procedures, and train and coach our new staff members.
CD: Over the years, being a working manager, getting the job done with my team, has allowed me to connect with them and create a great work environment. The last six years as the GM and now Director of the Des Lux Hotel our sister property in Des Moines Iowa, has gifted me the time and experiences to develop and improve my management style.
3. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
DF: I am hopeful for a successful introduction to a very unique and special building with a new purpose. I look forward to creating purposeful individual and group event experiences at Celeste St. Paul.
LN: To create unique and memorable experiences for our guests. To integrate Celeste St. Paul into the local community, to share the rich history of the property, and to establish the hotel and bar as a sought-after, one-of-a-kind destination in St. Paul.
CD: Create an exciting unique stay experience for our guests along with a fun rewarding experience for our staff.
4. How did you get into the industry?
DF: As a student studying architecture, drawing x-ray rooms for a hospital I was bored. I found a travel company who produced travel maps. Changed jobs and industry. The rest is hospitality history.
LN: Being brought up in the Brainerd Lakes Area exposed me to the lake resort industry at an early age. The appeal of working in a vacation environment, along with my passion for food, wine, and guest service, made hospitality a natural fit for me.
CD: When I was young I had a love for cooking and was continually preparing meals for my family. I was in high school when reading a food magazine. The cover article was about the 10 top new chefs, most of which had attended the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). It was at that point I decided to attend the CIA. Through the culinary program I had an externship at a resort, it was fascinating to me how the entire business worked. After graduation I took a job in my hometown as a cook then as executive chef.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
DF: Each guest interaction brings joy by providing a rich and meaningful experience worthy of a return visit.
LN: The guests. Understanding what’s important to them and providing it. My goal is to always meet their need before they realize they have it, to make their stay effortless, stress-free, and to find little ways to delight and surprise them. That is what’s most personally gratifying to me, and why I love hospitality.
CD: Hospitality for me is all about the people and how we interact with them. I get a great deal of joy by providing a memorable experience – be it a friendly smile or unique design esthetic.