Francesca Romero: Hyatt director of VIP Services
That's how Francesca Romero, director of VIP Services at the Hyatt, describes what she does every day.
hasn't always been in the hospitality business.
Born in Manhattan, Romero was educated and trained as a vocalist and spent time in Europe studying her craft.
debuted on stage at Lincoln Center at age 17 and also performed at Showman's in Harlem next door to the Apollo Theater and the Blue Fox nightclub in Chelsea.
"That was a tough crowd," said Romero
has never lost her
love for performing, Romero
eventually began a career that would lead her
to the hospitality industry.
She worked in the New York City Mayor's Office of Protocol, where she learned the art of making VIPs feel welcome.
"If a prince arrived with his
26 wives and each one wanted her
hair braided in a different salon, it meant 26 appointments and 26 limousines," said Romero
decided to move to Jacksonville in August 2002 and soon went to work for a developer who had opened a new apartment community in Arlington.
Romero was the assistant property manager and found her background to be a blessing and a curse.
"I figured if there were people involved, I could do it," she
After eight months, Romero
said, "I had four leasing agents working for me, but I leased 62 percent of the units myself.
We were fully occupied eight months ahead of schedule and I had worked myself out of a job."
A friend helped her
find a position at Downtown's Adam's Mark Hotel
, later to fly the Hyatt
said the timing couldn't have been more exciting.
"I started as guest services manager and the first thing I had to do was train the concierge staff and bell staff to get ready for the Super Bowl," said Romero
When the Hyatt
brand took over the hotel, she
said, it ushered in a new level of customer service and Romero
began specializing in making VIP travelers and groups feel welcome.
takes as much pleasure in surprising a couple spending the night at the hotel for their anniversary with a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries as she
does in making a celebrity's stay the most memorable.
"Some guests, due to their station in life or what they have done, are a little different," said Romero
One story she
could share was the time Roberta Flack came to Jacksonville for the jazz festival.
"One of the things she
wanted was a specific type of keyboard in her
room and that it be warmed up and ready to play when she
arrived," said Romero
made a "slight misstep" with the candidate.
"I was so excited that our Presidential Suite was really going to be the Presidential Suite.
I shook his
hand and said, 'Good luck, Mr. President'.
looked at me and said, 'Do you think I've got it?'," said Romero
office, Romero keeps scrapbooks of cards and letters from guests who have stayed at the hotel as well as a few plaques she
looks at every day for inspiration.
said the philosophy of service at the hotel makes her
job easy and the philosophy is practiced "from the stewards who wash the dishes to Dan King, our general manager.