As The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel celebrates its Pearl 30th Anniversary, it’s fitting to recognize and honor those ladies and gentlemen who opened the resort on August 27, 1984 and have been providing guests with extraordinary service and creating Ritz-Carlton guests for life. Dora, The Gift Shop
Q: When you joined the resort, what department did you work in? Dora: I started at the resort in the laundry department. I was there for almost 9 years. When I was working in the laundry department, I would also provide babysitting services in the evenings for guests who wanted to enjoy dinner without their children. It was a great way for me to make a little extra money. I saved the money I made from babysitting and used it toward college for my three children.
Q: Over thirty years, what other departments did you work in? Dora: While I worked in laundry, I provided lateral service to the banquet department. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed my experience, but I realized quickly that carrying the big trays was not really my expertise. I transferred into Resort Services and spent about a year there before I joined the team in The Gift Shop 20 years ago.
Q: What keeps you at the resort? Dora: I enjoy meeting the people that travel from all over the world to visit our beautiful resort. It’s such a special place to visit. So many of our guests are repeat guests and it’s nice to see them year after year. I enjoy watching their children grow up and have been at the resort long enough that many of them are now coming back with their grandchildren. I also stay because it’s like home and the ladies and gentlemen that I work with are like my family.
Q: Celebrating memories is a specialty of Ritz-Carlton ladies and gentlemen. Can you share a story… Dora: A guest came into the Gift Shop and was looking for a few sundry items. I escorted him to the sundries area and when he turned to walk back to the counter, I noticed that the seam in the back of his jacket was coming apart. I mentioned it to him and explained that I was a seamstress and that I would be happy to repair it for him. He was so surprised that his jacket was torn and was grateful that I offered to fix it. He took the jacket off and I stitched up the seam while he waited. When I was finished, he put the jacket back on and purchased the sundry items that he originally came in for. It wasn’t until I was ringing up his items that I realized that he was the president of the organization that was holding their meeting at the resort. Later, I was told that he shared his experience with all of the attendees at his meeting and told them all that what he experienced was Ritz-Carlton service.
Q: How did that make you feel? Dora: I was very proud to have made such an impression on him, especially since I was just doing what I could to help a guest.
Q: What surprises you most that you’ve been at the resort for 30 years? Dora: When I started working here, my oldest son was only three months and now 30 years have passed. It is hard to believe that I’ve been married for 32 years and that my oldest son has graduated from college and now designs eyewear. My daughter is 25 and has graduated from California State Fullerton and my “baby” is 19 and currently in college. It’s as the saying goes, “time flies when you are having fun.” I truly have fun every day here at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.Jonathan L.
When there is something to be designed and built, Jonathan is who you go to at the resort. Over his 30 year career at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, he has hand crafted the giant eggs that are displayed at Easter, the spinning mirrored diamond for The Diamond Ball, all of the base pieces for the annual gingerbread display (including the life size Woody), as well as the floating sushi boats and mote used for group functions. Jonathan also invented a mechanism to change light bulbs in the chandeliers and a water wagon used to replace the water in the large flower vases in the resort’s main lobby hallway. Johnathan’s creativity and talent is a huge asset to the resort.
Q: What brought you to The Ritz-Carlton?Jonathan: I had graduated from the University of Alaska and decided I would move back home. I’m actually from Dana Point. I was newly married and my plan was to get a job, save some money and move back to Alaska. I promised myself I would only stay for a year. Well, that was 30 years ago. As John Lennon said, ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.’
Q: What is one of your fondest memories from over the years?Jonathan: What really stands out to me is that when the hotel opened in 1984, we didn’t really know who we were. We didn’t have an identity, and we didn’t know what our mission was. Soon after the hotel opened, Horst Schultz introduced The Credo. Thirty years later, The Credo still reminds me every day that our mission is to provide our guests with genuine care and comfort and my role in that is to ensure that the hotel is always in great condition.
Q: Any last thoughts?Jonathan: I was 30 years old when I started working at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and I had at least 30 jobs before this one. I’ve been here for 30 years now and I truly feel this is my home and I came to realize I was working for the best hotel in the world. The team of engineers that I work with is a very diverse group of good natured, talented individuals that I consider my closest family. Maybe someday I’ll retire and maybe then I’ll move back to Alaska. Wes K.
Thirty years ago, Wes had just relocated to the United States from Poland. By the time he was 25 he had traveled all over Europe and we are lucky he landed with us. He joined The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in the engineering department. He was working two jobs, attending school, and raising a family. Over the years, his passion, commitment and loyalty earned him a promotion within the department and he now serves as the resort’s Chief Engineer.
Q: What keeps you here? Wes: Friends and family. I truly think of the engineering team as my friends and family. I know what they can and can’t do. We all support each other and work as a team to keep this amazing property in first class shape. We know what we have built together and we know what to expect from each other.
Q: Any words of advice? Wes: If you put your mind to it and you want to be somebody, The Ritz-Carlton is the place to be. We have 85 properties around the world and we are continuing to grow. When I started we had 5. For someone just coming into the company, there are so many opportunities to learn, grow and 30 years from now have someone asking them these same questions.
Q: What’s one of your fondest memories? Wes: I was standing in front of enoSTEAK with the director of engineering and a few other gentlemen from the engineering department. We were discussing where to place the new signage for the restaurant. Who would have thought there would be so many opinions, but there were. All of a sudden, a voice from behind said, “Gentlemen, do you want me to make a decision for you?” One of our guests had been watching our exchange. I can’t tell you his name, but I’m pretty sure he used to be a four star general. We were all speechless. That’s something I’ll never forget.
Q: Any other thoughts? Wes: I’ve been with the hotel for 30 year. The European way is not to change jobs. I’ve been married for 30 years and I’ve lived in the same house for 27. I have a deep sense of loyalty and commitment. You can count on me, that’s just the way I am in my life. Click here
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