Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

NMSU students help ensure that the Las Cruces Hotel becomes one of the top ranked in the nation

One of the top-rated Marriott hotels in the country is located on the New Mexico State University campus and serves as a career starting point for many NMSU graduates and students.

Three years after opening, the Courtyard by Marriott Las Cruces at NMSU has become the No. 1 Courtyard Hotel in New Mexico and, according to Marriott’s guest service values, is now one of the top 1 percent of all Courtyard locations in the United States.

Amy Miller, General Manager of the Courtyard at NMSU, attributes the hotel’s success to its dedicated 60 employees, a group of employees that at any given time includes approximately 10 current or past NMSU students.

“I didn’t realize until the end of October that we were almost among the 15 best hotels in the country,” said Miller. “So we’re working really hard to get into the top 10 by the end of the year.”

Miller said the hotel’s rankings, based solely on guest feedback, are impressive as the hotel opened a few months before the coronavirus pandemic outbreak and continues to operate in a difficult economic climate.

Despite last year’s uncertainty, Miller added the hotel has managed to strengthen its ties with the NMSU School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, housed in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

“We’re proud to say that even in the year and a half of COVID-19 we have been able to hire and pay internships to NMSU HRTM students,” said Miller.

Miller said the hotel’s NMSU students, either interns or full-time employees, perform a variety of assignments every day.

“I am impressed with her background and understanding of the hospitality industry,” she said of her employees who have completed the HRTM program, “and their understanding of customer service, brand standards, finances and budgets, costs, expenses, profits and so on.”

HRTM Director Jean Hertzman said the hotel’s guest service ratings confirm the success of the partnership with the HRTM program.

“We cultivate the spirit of hospitality in our students and the interpersonal and business skills required throughout our curriculum and program activities,” said Hertzman. “We are proud that this continues in their work at the hotel and that they offer such wonderful service to its guests, many of whom are also connected to the NMSU community.”

Like Miller, current HRTM student Yulisa Bueno believes the hotel’s success is directly related to employees like you and others who work together.

“That tells me we have a strong team,” says Bueno, who has been with the Courtyard for two years and is currently the hotel’s bistro manager.

Bueno added that working with her HRTM classmates leads to better overall teamwork – and helps increase customer satisfaction.

“Our guest service results are quite encouraging and, overall, make us feel confident that we are doing everything we can to keep this hotel up and running as efficiently as possible,” she said.

Kat Voelz, who completed the HRTM program in May, said the program was preparing for her current position as the hotel’s sales coordinator.

“Learning to sell is something I’m really looking forward to because it’s a little different,” said Voelz, who has been with the hotel for almost a year.

Voelz said she was confident the hotel will continue to receive high ratings on customer service.

“I think we’ll keep improving until we’re the absolute best we can be,” she said, “and then keep improving.”

Fabian Esquivel, who graduated from the HRTM program in 2019, said working at the hotel during the pandemic was challenging but full of valuable lessons. He said he saw the hotel go almost empty in the early days from full to the height of the pandemic and then recover.

“My greatest asset is not being afraid to take these lessons and not being afraid to communicate,” said Esquivel, who now serves as the hotel’s deputy general manager. “My other big takeaway, and probably my favorite, is to keep looking forward.”

The Courtyard by Marriott Las Cruces at NMSU is part of a growing network of New Mexico hotels managed by Total Management Systems, an Albuquerque company that has partnered with NMSU to develop the hotel and create the next generation of Train hospitality leaders.

Miller said HRTM graduates who work for the company can participate in the TMS Leadership Program, which aims to help employees advance their careers with TMS.

“Total Management Systems welcomes HRTM graduates who wish to advance their careers in other institutions,” said Miller, who was recently promoted to the company as onboarding and Marriott peer advisor.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez

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