Basic Info

Name:
Tom Guay
Contributor Status:
Native AdVice
Initial Contribution Date:
07/07/2015
Primary Location:
Bolton Landing, NY, USA

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Hotels / Hospitality
Personal Career Headline:
GM of The Sagamore Resort
Business Description (One-Liner):

Hotel/Resort

Experience Timeline:
31-40 years of work experience

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Career Snapshot:

Tom Guay has spent a dozen years at The Sagamore, trained at The Culinary Institute of America and began his career as a restaurant chef for Georges; he moved on to The Sagamore as a sous chef of the Trillium. Guay became an executive chef and worked at several resort hotels, including Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Mo.,  The Woodstock Inn and Resort in Vermont, and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa., before returning to The Sagamore. He has served there as director of food and beverage and, most recently, spent four years as the resort’s resident manager. (Read More Here: timesunion.com)

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How did you get into the industry?:

Like most hospitality professionals I started at a young age working in a restaurant. I was drawn to the fast pace, exciting atmosphere. I appreciated that each day was new and exciting, and it felt as if we had a new performance each day. I was also drawn to the idea of service, and quickly realized that meeting the needs of a guest or patron was something that I would want to do for a career. My career path to GM of a grand resort however; was slightly different. For the first 25 years I was exclusively in the kitchens of resorts and hotels. I held positions of Cook, Sous Chef and ultimately Executive Chef before becoming the Director of Food and Beverage. Following that I transitioned into the Rooms Division, becoming the Resident Manager and finally General Manager.

Emerging industry trends?:

The booking window is shorter and shorter. Guests are holding out looking for that last minute deal. No longer are we seeing that they are planning out months in advance. Of course this is true because we are a drive destination with only being 3 ½ hours from the New York market. However; Revenue Management recognizes this and through analytics we recognize patterns, and will manipulate availability to ensure that occupancies continue to grow month over month and year over year.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?:

The Sagamore is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. In 2008, we celebrated our 125th Anniversary of welcoming guests to The Sagamore. We are a full service resort hotel with 380 plus rooms, suites, condominiums and a castle. A full service Spa and Salon, Donald Ross Championship Golf Course, multiple restaurants and recreation activities all make The Sagamore what it is today. My vision is to be a great steward to this amazing property. Work hard so each day is better than the one before. Continue to listen to our guests, and always look to improve.

What's next for the Business in the near future?:

Continued success for the next 125 years. In addition to that we will always look to improving the facility, it’s offerings for our guests and a workplace that fosters growth, satisfaction and pride in a job well done.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business? Greatest Accomplishment?:

The Sagamore is a member of the Ocean Properties Family of resorts and hotels. It boasts over 100 unique properties each with its own distinct location, facility and offerings that set it apart from one another. Within the portfolio there are 14 properties that are part of the OPAL Collection. Just as the Opal is a rare and exciting Gem, this portfolio is that as well. Each OPAL property is marketed internally to each other, and we are developing loyalty programs where our guests will be recognized within the portfolio and have added value to each stay.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?):

I am proud that I was able to work through an ownership change at a very difficult time (2008/2009) where the hospitality industry was dealt a serious blow. During that time we also went through a significant reconstruction and renovation project, which took several years, and we were able to navigate through peaks and valleys in business levels all the while showing significant growth in key metrics along the way. This was not easy on our associates, and our guests also recognized that we were going through quite a bit of change. We were successful because our team relied on each other and we all knew that the changes happening were right for The Sagamore. This could not have happened without constant communication and a desire from all that we were positioning this hotel in such a way that the future would be bright.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?:

The Sagamore is situated on a 72 acre island in the Adirondacks and on one of the cleanest and pristine waters in North America. The ideal experience is to get near the lake, on the lake and in the lake. Take in the natural beauty and slow the pace as much as possible so as to enjoy the amazing setting.

How do you motivate others?:

I try to keep them on their toes. They all know that I “inspect what I expect”. In fact, they have a cheat sheet of 20 or so items that I look for whenever I am around the property. From an associate smile to pillows being straight they know that I am always looking. I try to instill in them to see it from a guest’s perspective. In addition to that we work hard on communication and setting the expectation.

Career advice to those in your industry?:

Learn that every decision and action you make, be it large or small will impact the Guest in some way. Wherever you are, know your property, know your job and know your team. Each is unique in its own way.

What Else To Know

Your Business's Motto?:

Naturally, “it’s our pleasure” and “we are here to serve”! 

One food and drink on earth, what would you choose?:

The way The Sagamore is situated on Green Island on Lake George lends its Indian name for “the great one” just right. We have four wings of the hotel which afford great views of the Adirondack Mountains and Lake George. As a Historic Hotel we believe in stewardship all while ensuring that our guests get to experience this great lake. Or cascading Veranda Terraces, beach front access and sitting areas are designed so our guests truly capture the beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains.

What literature is on your bed stand?:

Aside from various trade magazines, a few John Grisham novels and I am currently reading Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon.

How important is architecture/design to the success of your Business?:

The way The Sagamore is situated on Green Island on Lake George lends its Indian name for “the great one” just right. We have four wings of the hotel which afford great views of the Adirondack Mountains and Lake George. As a Historic Hotel we believe in stewardship all while ensuring that our guests get to experience this great lake. Or cascading Veranda Terraces, beach front access and sitting areas are designed so our guests truly capture the beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains.

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