It’s more than 5,000 miles between the Czech Republic and Florida. It’s an even broader stretch from working as a pastry chef and yoga instructor to becoming the Resort Manager for one of the timeshare industry’s most respected management companies. But Resort Trades’ Top Team Professional Jitka Perutkova has overcome almost unsurmountable obstacles and proven without a doubt that dreams really can come true!
Growing up in the Czech Republic under Communist rule, winters were frigid and travel was strictly forbidden. But when Jitka (pronounced Yitka) was about seven years old, she saw a travel magazine with pictures of Florida hotels with beautiful swimming pools surrounded by palms and cascading waterfalls. She remembers turning page after page, imagining herself in Florida managing one of the hotels. Undaunted by the worlds apart in distance and culture or her lack of English skills, Jitka set out to follow her dream of coming to America and working in the Florida hospitality industry. How she completed her amazing journey is a story of dedication, perseverance, and true courage.
On the road to fulfilling her dream, Jitka worked in the hospitality industry from the age of 15, attending Hospitality Management School and studying three years to become a professional chef. She gained experience in various training positions in the Czech Republic for hotels in Ireland and Tenerife and first visited the U.S. one summer when she was 20, moving to Key West, Florida three years later. At the time, she barely spoke any English.
Her first jobs in Key West included being a housekeeper for a Fairfield Inn, making ice cream in Dairy Queen, sandwiches at Subway, working at a pet store, and as a babysitter, caregiver and pet sitter. At other properties, she served as a travel agent, bartender, personal trainer, travel agent, marketing coordinator, event planner, front office manager, night auditor, housekeeping manager and even did maintenance work! It is safe to say that Jitka has performed in just about every role in hospitality. Each role positioned her for jobs of greater responsibility.
In looking back on those early days, she says, “I guess you could say that my life was very colorful with a lot of different job experiences, but I needed them all to pay for my education as an international student. I learned something from every job. Combining them was much like putting pieces together in a large puzzle and each of them contributed to my overall experience.”
Jitka earned an Associate in Art from Florida Keys Community College, a B.S. from the University of Central Florida & the Rosen School of Hospitality, and Hodges University School of Business where she also earned a Master’s degree in Executive Management. To further develop her hospitality knowledge, she became CHIA certified in Hotel Industry Analytics, earned her CAM license, a Florida real estate license and became a Sampoorna Yoga Teacher.
Today Jitka is a U.S. citizen and the highly respected General Manager of Club Regency on Marco, a 32-unit timeshare resort on Marco Island on the Southwest Coast of Florida, managed by Hilton Grand Vacations. She has been with the property since January 2013, supervising a staff of nine full-time hospitality professionals. At the Charter Club of Marco Beach, where she was front office and housekeeping manager for about five years prior to joining Club Regency, the resort was named “Resort of the Year” for the highest service in the industry among all HGV properties in the USA and has been the recipient of RCI ‘s Gold Crown Award for 26 consecutive years.
“I’m very happy that I found Hilton Grand Vacations,” she says. “It’s a company where I can apply all my knowledge – from training and management to customer service and guiding renovations along the way. This is where I hope to settle down and grow. I love meeting people from all over the world and helping to provide them with positive vacation experiences. Thanks to company perks, I’ve been able to visit places like Bora Bora and Tahiti, Seychelles, Dubai, Hawaii, and other European countries and have also visited my Mom, sister, and niece who all live in the Czech Republic.”
Just recently, she remembered that magazine story she saw as a child that became the genesis of her dream: “America really is a place when dreams can come true,” she says. “They certainly did for me!
Marge Lennon loves to tell other people’s stories. She has had a front-row seat to the growth of the timeshare industry since 1978 and has written about its entrepreneurial developers and their amazing people from the Adirondacks to Australia. Contact her at Marge@LennonCommunications.com