29 Nov 2021

Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club's General Manager Works to Stay ‘Close, Connected, and Communicative’

Angela Nolan of Marriotts Ko Olina Beach Club

Source: bizjournals.com

Angela Nolan of Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club reflects on her approach to guiding employees through the pandemic.

Angela Nolan’s foray into hospitality began not as an employee, but as a guest.

Growing up in Virginia, Nolan frequented the Islands as a visitor with her family. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Kaanapali was a favorite stop, and it was a visit there as a teenager that sparked her interest in the industry.

“The interactions I had with the bell staff and the front desk staff were so genuine and ohana-like, and I felt like I belonged in a strange way,” Nolan recalled. “It really became like we were going to visit friends when we would go back, versus just going to a resort.”

Later, Nolan landed an internship at the Westin Maui, and after graduating college, she joined the resort’s management trainee program. Nolan was only six months into the yearlong program when she was tapped to be the assistant front office manager.

By the time she was 23, she was running the front office at Kapalua Bay Hotel. From there, she went on to hold leadership roles in revenue management and operations at various properties in Hawaii and Las Vegas, working her way up to her first general manager position at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, followed by stints as area managing director and regional vice president of resort operations with Vistana Signature Experiences.

In 2019, Nolan assumed her current role as market general manager with vacation ownership brand Marriott Vacations Worldwide, where she serves as general manager of Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club in addition to overseeing other properties within the brand including Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, Westin Nanea Ocean Villas, and Marriott Waikoloa Ocean Club.

What has been your strategy in guiding your employees and properties through the pandemic?

Over the last 18 to 20 months, we’ve had to figure out how to deal with the shutdowns, then the changing proclamations and mandates, and then very low levels of visitors in the Islands. We’ve had to pivot and shift how we are doing business and ensure that we’re complying with all the safety protocols and requirements.

Ensuring all aspects of protection and safety was a priority while still trying to provide a great experience.

The people who were working had a large responsibility in managing the resort and keeping the guests safe while keeping themselves safe. So it was also about staying close, connected, and communicative to the leaders and the associates, making sure that everybody feels comfortable with their role and how they’re interacting with each other and with guests.

We also worked to make sure that everybody had the knowledge and the experience and the understanding to do their jobs … because in some cases, some people’s [responsibilities] shifted and people weren’t necessarily doing the same job or it had to be done a little differently. … It really came down to, how are we going to lead people, not lead a process? We’ve had to have difficult conversations about what was happening with the resort or in the community, and it was about being honest and being real.

Covid has renewed conversations about managing tourism. What are your thoughts on the issue?

I think if Covid did anything, it allowed us to just pause, take a deep breath, reset, reanalyze and maybe rethink the business a little bit. And that’s not to say we’re going to massively change things, but it allows us to refocus our priorities on what’s most important. It gave us time to relook at the guest experience, relook at the local resident experience and how they can continue to blend and cohabitate as one. … I think it is all about getting the messaging out … about respecting the land — that when something says kapu, you keep out, that you don’t touch turtles, or you don’t approach monk seals.

I think it’s about continued education on respecting the place that you’re visiting. … I also sit on the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association board, and we talk a lot about that balance. The industry is very committed to ensuring that when we bring back visitors, we bring them back safely and we bring them back so that they appreciate the culture and respect the land and respect the wildlife. And I think that that’s achievable with all the right parties at the table and everyone focused on ensuring that the messaging out there is the right one and it’s unified.

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Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club
92-161 Waipahe Place, Kapolei, HI 96707
Contact +1 (808) 679-4700
Careers: View Available Positions
Visit: marriott.com


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