by Jeanne Muchnick
Source: The Journal News
Colby Brock, center, the general manager of the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle speaks with Emily Montalvo, left, and Natasha Richardson at the hotel.
(Photo: Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News)Colby Brock likes to say she has two babies — her 4-month-old daughter, Harlow, and the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, where she works as general manager.
Brock practically grew up in the business, learning from her father (and role model), Peter Brock, a partner in Brock Development Corp., a family-owned company that specializes in the acquisition, development, redevelopment, management, leasing and maintenance of commercial real estate assets in New York, Florida and other states across the country.
"I've been in the hospitality industry for 20 years," says the White Plains resident who distinctly remembers her first job interning as a front-desk agent at the Embassy Suites in Palm Beach, Florida.
Since taking over as general manager last August — right about the time she was starting her second trimester, her main priorities have been the hotel's new $1 million energy project, as well as adding outdoor dining to NoMa Social, the hotel's Mediterranean-style restaurant where she previously worked as food and beverage director. There has also been a concentration on creating innovative summer and fall guest room packages, adding local attractions to the mix, and putting together new menus for NoMa Social and the banquet department.
Lest one think she moved up the ranks based solely on her family connections, think again. Brock says her father wouldn't allow her to have a full-time job at any of his properties until she had gained some practical experience elsewhere. So she spent her late teens and early 20s working in a variety of hotels and restaurants in New York, Connecticut and Florida. "I wanted to do anything and everything to learn as much as I could, most times working two jobs and going to school full-time," she says. That included stints running the gamut from food expeditor to sales marketing assistant, to bartender and reservations manager.
Her Westchester career began at the Radisson in 1998 working as a front-desk agent before moving on to roles in food and beverage. At one point she went back to school to earn a degree in interior design and worked as a designer for a small firm on Long Island. Though she enjoyed it, she said she craved the daily hustle of the hotel business, which was when she came back to the property to help with the reinvention and renovation of NoMa Social, essentially bridging the gap between her design and hospitality experience.
She was also instrumental in the hotel's recent refurbishments of the guest rooms, lobby, ballrooms and bathrooms. The space is now much fresher and modern with a stylish aesthetic geared toward both leisure and business guests. "Our goal is to offer the services more aligned with a boutique urban property than what is typically expected in this area," she says. "My dad always told me that if you are good to your business, your business will be good to you. It's my job to present that in everything we do."
Who: Colby Brock
Her job: General manger, the Radisson Hotel, New Rochelle
How she got into the business: "I was born into it," she says. "This is a family business and I get joy and pleasure out of not only working alongside and for my father, but also knowing I'm building something for my family."
Best part of the job: "Balancing the 'mini businesses' that make up the business. There's food management. There's client relations. There's special events. There's design, and so on," she explains. Brock also says she enjoys working with her family — her dad, her husband, Mario, who she met on the job and who helps maintain the property — as well as her extended Radisson family plus "all the different types of people that walk in the door. ... I'm constantly learning things from the folks I meet, whether they are co-workers or guests," she says.
Most challenging part of the job: Working with her family. "What makes my job so wonderful is also what makes it challenging," she explains.
Tips for working your way up the ladder: "Put the time in and work hard. You have to constantly look for a challenge to make what you're doing better while always looking for what's next and constantly learning what's new. Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Always be truthful. Make what you are doing fun. I love the quote, 'If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.'"
Fun fact: She met her husband while working at NoMa Social. Someone called in sick, meaning she had to cover a bartending shift. "I poured him a drink, and now here we are," she says.
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