Marriott International’s dedication to service extends beyond its many hotels and resorts to also embrace the places they call home.
The corporation’s focus on giving-back is demonstrated in a concentrated fashion each May through its “Spirit to Serve Our Communities Day.” The international event sees staff address local needs through organized events and volunteer efforts, such as Habitat for Humanity builds, food drives, supply drives to support troops and beach, trail and road clean-ups.
At the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, this year as in years past, Spirit to Serve Day was observed with a complementary luncheon for the city’s first responders. Later in the day, a week-long canned food drive to benefit the Harry Chapin Food Bank was topped off by a canned food sculpture contest for the resort’s various departments.
Held at the city’s San Marco Road fire station, the luncheon included the on-site grilling expertise of senior sous chef Mikey Termini and Chris Major, the resorts’ general manager of golf, as well as the presence of its overall GM, Sharon Lockwood, and other staffers.
“Just a good, old fashioned summer barbeque,” was Major’s description of the menu, which included such staples as hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans, potato ships and soda.
He said this was the tenth year the resort has held the first-responders luncheon.
“The spirit to serve our communities is one of our core values that Mr. Marriott instilled in the very beginning, so we take great pride in doing what we can for the community, especially our first responders,” Major added. “Today is just a perfect opportunity to come over and say thanks for everything you do for the community and for us.”
Termini joined the resort a little more than one month ago, after 13 years with the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World. He cited Community Spirit Day as an example of the JW Marriott culture that helped convince him to make the move.
“I’d say it’s the epitome of a hotel like this, giving back to the community, being involved, really being a part of it,” said Termini. “This is such a small town and it’s great to be able to support these guys because they support us every day.”
That support is much appreciated by the first responders, including Marco’s fire chief, Mike Murphy, and the city’s police chief, Al Schettino.
“The Marriott and the businesses on Marco Island are great partners, with the city, with fire-rescue and with the police department,” said Murphy. “This just really brings us closer. It’s wonderful to see the (resort’s) new manager and all the Marriott employees showing their appreciation for what we do and in turn, it gives us a chance to show our appreciation to them.”
Schettino expressed a similar sentiment.
“We’re really grateful for all that they do for us as a community partner,” he said. “It’s nice that they take the time with first responders, for us to be able to have lunch with them, and interact and get to meet their employees. It’s just a great community partnership.”
“Spirit to Serve Day” is just one part of the corporation’s annual Associate Appreciation Week, which this year consisted of an luncheon on Monday, a cultural fair and lip-synch competition on Tuesday afternoon and more.
“Every day, there are some fun events, whether it’s lunch or some beach activities; we have a golf tournament on Friday for our associates,” said Major, who was the Spirit to Serve committee’s chairman and director of the First Responder’s Luncheon. “It’s just a week of fun so that we can say thanks for all you do for our guests and each other.”
The week also included the annual canned food drive and the canned-food sculpture competition, with the first-place finisher earning bragging rights and a pizza party. The second place department received an ice cream social party.
Creativity was displayed by all 13 entries, including the team at 400 Pazzi’s, the resort’s Italian restaurant, which created a mock slice of key lime pie out of about 270 cans.
While the contest is fun, the food drive’s intent doesn’t get lost in the process, said Pete Tewis, 400 Pazzi’s kitchen supervisor.
“The most important part is it’s not really about the artwork,” he said. “It’s about taking care of people in need and helping them out. It feels really great.”
Judging was handled by Geily Gonzalez, senior assistant director of finance and accounting. Yesenia Castro, senior administrative assistant to the food and beverage director, and interim dining manager Matthew Clark.
Taking first place was the skillet containing mock bacon and eggs created by the crew at the Maia breakfast restaurant. Second place went to the spa for its highly detailed massage sculpture.