Traveling to a foreign place can be challenging, but Hilton Naples aims to make all people feel at home. Many of the luxury hotel’s 185 team members are bilingual—some speaking three to four languages—to better communicate with its visitors.
“It demonstrates how we represent their cultures and appreciate their business,” says Clark Hill, Hilton Naples’s general manager. When the hotel opened in 2000, Hill says they sought potential workers from “all areas and all representations.” It mattered less if a person had hospitality experience; he or she really just needed to have a passion for people.
“We’re in the business of greeting a very diverse population,” Hill says. “We learn and grow from that, and we take that culture to the internal operation and implement that thinking within.” Last year, the company welcomed 5,000 international guests who traveled from 77 different countries.
The hotel’s carefully crafted workforce represents “many ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds.” The range of personalities is paramount to the business’s success. “It’s critical to have a diverse workforce because we need the creativity that it brings to us,” Hill says. “It’s just a good melting pot of diverse ideas that enable us to continue to be creative.”
The hotel takes time to celebrate its unique staff. Late last year during a group gathering, employees were asked to share how they honor their beliefs during the winter holidays. “It was a great team-building exercise,” Hill says. Hilton Naples has also been recognized for its all-inclusive efforts within the community.
Tom Donahue, manager of the hotel’s restaurant Shula’s Steak House, in 2015 received an award from Hodges University for excellence in diversity. The NAACP of Collier County recently named Cesar Fernandez, Shula’s executive chef, as “Best Chef in Naples.” Hilton Naples supports many different types of organizations in the area.
It’s been a continual sponsor for the Jewish Federation of Collier County’s annual book festival, and leaders of the hotel have been involved with the United Way of Collier County, NAACP, Hunger and Homeless Coalition of Collier County, and other organizations dedicated to affordable housing and military veterans.
“We feel the community has been so good to us, so we feel an obligation to give back to the great community,” Hill says. It’s just another way for the company to embrace and support the many different people who make up Collier County. And in turn, it makes Hilton Naples a more wellrounded place. “We are an extremely diverse group of people, but I think the key to making it work is the respect we have for one another and the respect have for each other’s cultural differences, and also the appreciation for how those differences benefit our operation.”