Name: Maria Zec
Title: General manager
Company, city: The Peninsula Chicago; Chicago, Ill.
Number of employees: Fewer than 600
Recent project: Completing our renovation, which began in 2015 and ended April 8, 2016
First job: At 13 years old, I washed dishes for $1.25 an hour at a local restaurant.
Little-known fact about you: I’m very shy.
Essential business philosophy: Take care of your guests and employees. Working for The Peninsula Hotels, I’m focused on quality and a high level of service. The majority of our employees have been with the hotel for five or more years.
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Evolve and don’t stay stagnant.
Yardstick of success: It’s a balance of three things: happy guests, happy employees and financial profit.
Maria Zec as a Traveler
What is the most important item you take when traveling? An oversized pashmina
How do you spend your time on board? It depends on the length of the flight. On shorter flights, I work. On long flights, I work but also sleep and read.
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Shanghai Terrace at The Peninsula Chicago
What is your favorite destination in the world? The Maldives; you can really shut down and recharge.
About The Peninsula Chicago
What can premium travelers expect from a stay at The Peninsula Chicago? Guests can expect a spacious, comfortable guestroom with a thoughtful design and high-quality furnishings. Service is anticipatory, genuine, warm and caring with an attention to detail. The technology enhancements are intuitive and easy to operate. In addition to tablet technology in the guestroom, the hotel offers VOIP complimentary long-distance calls. And, of course, an extremely comfortable bed.
Tell our readers more about the hotel’s recent $37 million renovation. Our guestrooms are vastly different. Currently, 330 of the 339 guestrooms are completed. The décor incorporates an art wall that features one of the four noble flowers of Asia, a homage to our roots. The renovation coincided with our 15th anniversary, celebrated in 2016. We upgraded technology across the board. Our in-room touch-screen tablets control many aspects of the guest experience, available in 11 different languages.
What unique experiences can guests partake in as part of the Keys to the City program? In celebration of our anniversary year, we offered 15 Keys to the City, including exclusive experiences like a tour of the kitchen and back of the house as well as plating a dish alongside the chef at Chicago’s 3-Michelin-starred Grace. Navy Pier is celebrating its 100th anniversary; our Keys offer for Navy Pier includes front-of-the-line access and an exclusive all glass-enclosed gondola. The program was extremely popular, and we are evaluating continuing the program into 2017.
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