Dawn Cox Mortgage & Portfolio Manager, VSA Resorts
Dawn Cox understands more than most that it is hard to ask people for money. In her role as Mortgage and Portfolio Manager for VSA Resorts, her biggest daily challenge is making her company’s timeshare owners understand the importance of timely payments and maintaining good credit. She currently has over 1,000 open mortgages in her portfolio.
It can be a challenge to get delinquent owners to answer the phone, and once on the phone, we have to ask tough questions to determine everyone’s individual situation.
In her position for two years, Cox oversees the Mortgage Department as she assists in the collection efforts of delinquent loans. Along with two mortgage and collection specialists whom she supervises – Kiara Bethea and Tonya Chapman – their goal is to achieve minimal delinquency and to meet monthly department goals. Last year, she and her team made their monthly delinquency goals every month. During this process, Dawn strives to provide excellent customer service as she and her team educate owners on the various ways their mortgage payments can be made, the need for timely payments, loan interest rates, and payoff options. Kiara has been with VSA for five years and Tonya one year.
Dawn was a part-time Mortgage Specialist with VSA Resorts for 15 years prior to her promotion in 2015. “I was humbled when asked to accept the promotion to the Mortgage and Portfolio Manager. I was flattered that upper management saw the potential in me to move up in our company and take on a leadership role.” Dawn and her department have been involved in many charity events including a Cycle for Survival-A Crush Cancer Cycling Event for cancer research and collecting wish list items for the local SPCA.
In an earlier career, Dawn was an elementary school teacher. She taught Kindergarten for two years and then transferred to Pre-K where she taught 18 at-risk students. She holds a Bachelor’s in Communication from Virginia Wesleyan College with Pre-K -6th-grade Elementary Education certification. “I love teaching and felt called to work with students who really needed a good educational and social foundation. It was hard to leave, but when I was offered this promotion I was at a crossroads in my career and made the decision to make a professional change.”
Dawn moved to the Virginia Beach area in 1990 from Connecticut when she was 21. She met Anthony just a few days after arriving and married him three years later. Today, the couple has been married 24 years. They have three sons, Cale (a junior studying vocal music at The Cleveland Institute of Music), Carter (a senior in high school with a passion for computer programming and a member of the STEM Academy), and Cameron (beginning 9th grade with a desire to be an architectural engineer); he has been accepted into the STEM Academy this fall. The family has a Scottish Terrier named Maisie who is 10 years old and spoiled rotten.
Shares Dawn, “We enjoy anything that involves family time, especially family game night and vacationing at a timeshare resort vs a hotel. I love my job because I get to work with folks who love to vacation and understand the need to take time out for themselves and their families. It is great to meet our owners and find out where they are traveling from and a little about them. It makes me smile to hear that they have enjoyed their time at the beach and in our resorts. I love hearing that we have the most hospitable staff because we do strive to offer the best customer service and hospitality. VSA is not only a great company to work for but our resorts are a wonderful, welcoming get-away for our owners and guests.”
Dolores Friss Hospitality Manager for VSA Resorts
Dolores Friss is the Hospitality Manager for VSA Resorts. Headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The company manages Ocean Key Resort, Ocean Sands Resort and Atrium Resort with about 13,500 owners.
As Hospitality Manager, Dolores is responsible for providing customer service to owners and guests and helping with the engagement, education, use and enjoyment of their timeshare. She communicates with owners about resort amenities, activities, area attractions and events and serves as a liaison to Sales, Marketing, Accounting, and Resort Operations teams’ customer issues. Dolores and her staff of four hospitality professionals track exchange company reservations, handle maintenance fee billings for three different HOAs and assist with owner requests as well as walk-in reservations.
Dolores is known internally as the company’s hospitality guru as she promotes harmony and guides sales-focused approaches to all endeavors. She also works directly with the hospitality department team, resort managers, sales and marketing and front desk staff to ensure maximum inventory usage, correct reservation processing and an enjoyable check-in and check-out process for owners and guests.
In discussing seasonality issues, she explains, “Virginia Beach is extremely popular as a tourist destination with a strong emphasis on the summer season. This makes it challenging to sell vacation home rentals during winter months. But we have overcome that by showing everyone who visits Virginia Beach the year-round beauty the city has to offer and all of the adventurous things there are to do here all year long.”
Although Dolores is a “newbie” as the Hospitality Manager – starting in January 2017 – she has been with VSA for about 13 years and worked at all three resorts during her tenure with the company. She started her VSA career in the Night Audit position, followed by promotions to Front Desk Supervisor, General Manager, Hospitality Representative, and Contract Processor.
Commented Nadine Paniccia, VP of Sales for VSA Resorts, “Dolores has worked for our company for over a decade and with me directly for the last three years. She is an invaluable employee and one whom we sincerely treasure for her dedication and loyalty.”
Prior to joining VSA Resorts, Dolores worked in the family business of making pizza at her uncle’s popular pizzeria on Long Island, named Rubino’s. She also worked with Virginia Beach 911 and earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences from Suffolk Community College in Selden, NY.
“Because I was raised in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, on Long Island, my family naturally enjoys the beach and we enjoyed fishing excursions on my Dad’s boat when we lived in New York. When time allows, I love to travel with my family and friends. Cruises are a favorite family vacation. We also enjoy going to amusement parks like Busch Gardens, and Disney and I’m still a fan of vintage hot rods because my dad restored old cars.” This mother of five, ages 16 to 23-year-old twins and grandmother of 2 little ones also loves 50s music and rock ‘n roll.
“Working in the timeshare industry brings me a lot of joy. I want families to experience Virginia Beach the way my family and I do. Building memories are important to me and I would like to pass that on to all the people I meet. I love staying in touch with our Owners and guests and hearing about their adventures in the beautiful city I enjoy calling home.”
Bora Simsek Associate Resort Manager Orange Lake Resort, Orlando
When Bora Simsek was just 14, he obtained a summer job bussing tables at a hotel restaurant in his native Cyprus. Bitten by the hospitality bug at an early age, it didn’t take him long to realize that this would be his chosen field of work for the future.
He began his hospitality adventure by earning a Bachelor of Arts in Tourism and Hospitality Management from Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta, Cyprus, followed by an internship program at American Hospitality Academy in Orlando. While in school, he also worked as a front desk and reservations professional at the Rocks Casino Hotel and MTS Tour Agency in Cyprus, helping guests with transportation and tour requests and learning about the importance of guest satisfaction and true customer services.
In 2008, he moved to Florida as an intern for American Hospitality Academy and completed his internship at Floridays Resort front desk. After his internship, he started working there as a housekeeping supervisor. In 2010, he continued his career at Floridays Resort in Orlando as a housekeeping supervisor and then as a sales manager with Sunshine Leather Universal, supervising 25 employees and six retail locations throughout the Universal site.
Born in Cyprus, Bora is fluent in Turkish and Spanish as well as English. He decided to remain in Florida after seeing the growth opportunities in the area and joined Orange Lake Resort in 2012, initially working in Orlando for two years before being promoted to Senior Manager of Housekeeping at the company’s Cape Canaveral Beach Resort. After a year, he became Senior Front Desk Manager serving at the property for almost three years.
Today, after 14 years in the hospitality industry, the 32-year old Bora is Associate Resort Manager for the massive 1,400-acre Orange Lake Resort in Orlando with partial operations oversight of West Village, which has 1,172 (out of 2,478) units in a mixture of high-rise, golf villas and clubhouse units. Working with department leaders and assistant GMs, his primary responsibility is to increase in-room guest experiences, which covers everything from unit cleanliness to the working order of amenities and resort operations.
There are mountains of challenges to the smooth operations of a resort of the size of Orange Lake Resort which has 2,478 total units and is the largest single-site timeshare property in the U.S.
Imagine, for example, the logistical issues and internal communications requirements between various departments when trying to move housekeepers and maintenance staff from point A to point B in order to facilitate a speedy clean by 4 p.m. on check-out days. Orange Lake has recently transitioned the housekeeping department along with support services to MasterCorp. Bora’s team supports this relationship to ensure all company standards are met.
Bora admits that he is a people person. “I truly enjoy playing a role in creating great memories for owners and guests and upholding the company’s commitment to hospitality. I see challenges as opportunities, which gives me the chance to transform a bad experience into a good one.”
Added Basil Trowbridge, Assistant GM of Orange Lake Resort, “Bora is a strong leader, totally dedicated to strengthening partnerships among his own team. He inspires others through his personal commitment to guest and employee engagement.”