Katy Coppenrath General Manager, Beachside Village Resort Defender Resorts
This true hospitality professional started at her current resort in 2004 when she was just 19 years old, working as a housekeeper, cleaning rooms, maintaining the common areas and laundering towels and linens. She had no idea then that within 12 years, she would become General Manager of the entire resort.
With her skills obvious to Defender Resorts, which has managed the property during most of her tenure there, Katy was soon asked to work at the front desk in addition to her housekeeping chores, handling both jobs for a couple years. By 2006 she had become Front Desk Manager, working with guests and exchange companies and assisting the GM. The next obvious step was Assistant GM and then the “top banana” role as General Manager, which she assumed in October 2016.
Currently, Katy supervises ten employees, for the 27-unit Beachside Village Resort, which adds additional staff during the summer season. The unit sizes include studio; studio deluxe, one bedroom, two-bedroom and two-bedroom deluxe with the resort located a mile from downtown Falmouth with its many shops and restaurants.
As General Manager, Katy reviews contracts with vendors and ensures that the resort and its guests obtain the best possible services. She still works closely with guests, manages booking reservations and answering questions, directing them to the best lobster dinners and other local attractions.
Shares Katy, “I love my job because each year I am able to see how each family has grown or changed and have developed a connection with many of our timeshare owners. I have seen families bring their children here years ago when they were in diapers and now the children are driving by my office window having recently passed their driver’s license test! I also believe that they like seeing the same smiling face year-after-year awaiting their return. It’s also been fun to share my professional growth with them over the years. I look forward to checking in our owners each week and catching up with them, as well as welcoming new guests to our property.”
Her responsibilities include working with vendors and contractors as well as staffing agencies used for housekeepers. She guides the housekeeping and maintenance departments as well as the front desk operations and is responsible for training all front desk staff. In April, she took the certified pool operators course and is now a certified pool operator. Katy handles all financial reporting to accountants and corporate offices. She participates in board meetings and enjoys implementing their plans. She is the direct contact for all affiliated exchange companies and is responsible for blocking inventory for their use. She also recently implemented a resort recycling program.
Katy has an Associate’s degree from Cape Cod Community College as well as a license in massage therapy. She attended Bridgewater State University and studied early childhood education and art. Born and raised on Cape Cod, she strongly believes that no matter how much schooling you have, there are certain people that are meant to work with the public and can connect with people more easily than others. After 13 years at her resort, she is clearly a “people person,” having developed those skills herself.
Like many other resort professionals in a popular vacation destination, Katy has a serious challenge concerning the availability of skilled hospitality workers during busy seasons. She has utilized temp agencies and college students and J1 Visa students but the situation remains the same from year to year. While seeking various staff members, she has even been called upon to become the resort maintenance person, a true testament to her wide range of skills.
Katy and her husband Mike were married in Costa Rica last year and are expecting their first child in October. She loves spending time outdoors, gardening and walking her two black labs as well as painting Cape Cod picturesque landscapes.
“Since I personally started at the bottom and worked my way up, I can really appreciate what each staff member on this property does as part of the whole because I’ve been there in each of their roles. Every employee here is equally important, no matter their position. We all are all working towards the end goal of making our guests and owners happy and ensuring they have a great vacation.”
Mitch Milner, Guests Services Manager, Hilton Grand Vacations at Mar Brisa Resort Grand Pacific Resorts
Mitch Milner is the Guest Services Manager for Hilton Grand Vacations at MarBrisa, a 312-unit resort located in Carlsbad, California and managed by Grand Pacific Resorts. He was recently recognized by ARDA as the winner of the prestigious ARDY award as the industry’s top Owner/Customer Relations Manager/Team.
Mitch oversees a 15-person front desk staff, activities and bellman personnel at the property, which includes 17 different types of units in 15 buildings. Previously, it had been confusing for guests to specify what type of unit they wanted, so this super creative Tech Whiz Kid created a color-coded resort guide which shows every single room type.
In his current position about a year, Mitch started with Grand Pacific Resorts in January 2015 and has had five title changes since then, each one increasing responsibility. He previously worked with Wyndham in sales and marketing. Earlier, he moved to Hawaii to do video production for a non-profit documentary group and worked at a small resort where he learned that hospitality was his true passion.
Grand Pacific Resorts’ mission is to enrich lives by creating experiences worth sharing. Mitch believes that the best way to infuse this culture is to have guest services agents deeply understand these motives so they can each individually perform as an extension of the GM.
According to Resort GM Megan Conner, “Mitch’s energy is absolutely amazing. He has a deep dedication not only to his team but also to the entire resort and has a constant passion for serving his guests. Through his mentoring and coaching skills, Mitch has taught his team endless ideas for implementing guest service recoveries when unexpected situations occur. He has an extraordinary way of identifying incoming guests and determining who may benefit from individual acts of kindness, with the ultimate goal an amazing vacation.”
His front desk team is unique because they must wear many hats – including guiding resort activities functions – and work with many different departments. In addition to his other talents, this 27-year-old is creative and technologically savvy, easily adapting to new technologies. His ability to smoothly navigate through many programs such as spreadsheets and workbooks is amazing. In many cases where he has worked with guests, he has been specifically identified on Trip Advisor for his customer service skills. He also won GPR’s Be Epic champion award for the resort in his first year of employment.
Grand Pacific Resorts is constantly dedicated to improving on boarding and training. He worked with managers from other properties in bi-weekly sessions to discuss best practices for guest services. Also, Mitch created a detailed training schedule with on boarding checklists that the Director of People has implemented across all the company’s 22 resorts. Thinking totally outside the box, Mitch also created an Excel document that consolidates information used by the front desk, making it available for use by other departments. He believes that cross training helps make everyone aware of each other’s responsibility and improves synergy between departments.
Recently engaged, Mitch is planning an October wedding and says he and his fiancé enjoy leisurely walks on the beach and “staycations” to San Diego and other resorts in the area.
“My primary motive is to provide an amazing experience for every guest,”he says. “With 15 buildings on our property and 312 units, when we open a new building like we did recently, owners and guests want to stay in the newer section of the resort. My job is to help accommodate their wishes.”
But what this super high energy young man really loves is transforming a vacation time into something special for his guests. With many weddings held at his resort, he recently had one wedding group in nine units. “My goal is to provide awesome services for each guest. It’s something I really enjoy doing and find it very satisfying. After an intense day when we opened a new building, my finance said ‘go out there and make someone’s day special’ since she knew this is something I love to do.”