Theresa Maw – My Life in Hospitality
Theresa Maw is the general manager of the Renaissance Chancery Court hotel, London.
As the first female general manager of a major Park Lane hotel - the five-star Marriott - Theresa Maw knows a thing or two about making her mark. In a career that spans 35 years she has opened 26 hotels across the world and scooped some of Marriott's highest accolades for her achievements, including the Marriott Award of Excellence in 2006.
Maw started her career at the Cunard International hotel - now the Novotel - where she gained grass roots training in all areas from front of house, back of house and food and beverages, to sales and guest relations. Five years later she packed her bags and travelled the world, stopping in Australia and Asia to experience new cultures.
Her love for the hospitality industry never wavered, however, and she was soon back in London at the Chelsea hotel in Knightsbridge as guest relations manager. "I love hotels because there is never a dull day. You have to balance the owner's, guests' and associates' needs, and you have to drive business," she says.
In June 1985 Maw moved to the five-star Grosvenor Square Marriott hotel where she worked as guest relations manager, working her way up to director of revenue strategy and director of guest services. She then oversaw the transition of a selection of major country house hotels to Marriott hotels in England before embarking on a new role as director of international operations training and performance support for Marriott, based in Washington, which would once again see her travelling the world.
"I used to go to Washington, get the latest training and take that knowledge to locations all over the world, including the Middle East, Australia, Caribbean and Hawaii. I'd train these ‘champions' and they would return to their hotels to train their staff," she explains.
As part of this role, Maw opened five-star Marriott hotels in locations such as Sri Lanka, Singapore, Cairo and Bangkok. "It was really interesting working with the different cultures and blending them to achieve success," she says.
In 2000 Maw returned to London, this time for the opening of the Renaissance Chancery Court as hotel manager, before taking her first general manager role for the opening of the London Marriott Park Lane in 2002. In 2006 she returned to Chancery Court as general manager.
Like many successful people, Maw says you need to work very hard to get ahead. "You have to work really hard at whatever you do. Make the best of your ability and make sure you mentor your team as well as yourself," she says.
"You also have to be passionate about the industry. This isn't a nine-to-five job; it is a lifestyle, especially in the hotels industry. You are there day and night, and you always need to expect the unexpected," she adds.
HIGHS… I have been fortunate to open many different hotels in different regions of the world with various cultures and I have been able to train and mentor a lot of people.
The Park Lane Marriott, Renaissance Chancery Court and County Hall all gained five stars in their first years of opening under my management. I loved working at these hotels with my teams.
I also enjoy supporting and mentoring young people coming into the industry on work placements. I've helped judge the Cateys, Acorn Awards and at Springboard. It's good to give something back to the industry.
LOWS… I have found it hard to work very closely with teams leading up to the opening of hotels and then have to abruptly leave to start a new role. You feel that you have been a massive part from the beginning, building a fantastic hotel and relationships with people, and then you have to move away from it.
Drives Walks, cycles and gets the train. Drives a Fairline Targa motorboat
Family Married with cat
Favourite holiday Maldives, but loves UK hospitality and the culture of London
Motto All our dreams can come true if we have the passion, drive and vision to pursue them
2006 JW Marriott Award of Excellence - Marriott's highest accolade
2003 Selected as the General Manager of the Year for Marriott International
2002 First female general manager of five-star Marriott Park Lane
1996-99 Marriott International director of operations training for the world