Five questions with: Timothy Kelly, executive VP and MD Atlantis Resorts and Residences

Hotelier Middle East sits down with Atlantis Resorts and Residences’ executive VP and MD, Timothy Kelly to talk about his first job, that one unforgettable moment in his career and his advice to people in the hospitality industry

Atlantis the palm, The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dubai, Timothy Kelly

What was your first job in the hospitality industry?
I worked at the front desk at a hotel in Las Vegas, it was called the Rios Suites Hotel. I had just completed the hospitality programme at university and I figured that I needed some work experience, this was 30 years ago.

One piece of advice you would offer someone looking to work in the hotel sector.
Always have a positive attitude. It’s all about the attitude.

What were the challenges you faced?
I think the challenge was in learning and being trusted to learn new areas. I started out with the front desk — a very complex position. There you have to understand cashiering, debits and credits, provide customer service, know how to solve problems and even know the technical aspects of the property. For me, my success was wanting to learn the workings of a new department. So I left the front desk and moved into housekeeping. Not many want to do it and it’s not a glamourous job, but once you know housekeeping and the front desk, you know both sides of the equation. From there I joined the F&B department and branched out into other areas of the business. You have to be willing early on, to stop what you’re doing and go into other areas, that’s a challenge.

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What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t working in this industry?
I think I would be a lawyer, that’s where I thought my career path would take me.

What would you say has been your most bizarre/fun experience so far?
I was in my early 20s. Fresh out of college, it was 1993. We were opening the MGM Grand hotel. It was known as the largest hotel in the world. It had 5,005 rooms, 30 restaurants and four show rooms. And in one night we had Frank Sinatra in a show room, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Loggins and Michael Crawford performing. I suddenly realised, here I am in my 20s checking-in all these different movie stars, different entertainers. I didn’t know what to say and my hands were shaking, I was so nervous that I froze. But then, I stopped and thought to myself ‘wow, this will never happen again and obviously how could it?’ and that was one kind of a special reflection.

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