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  • Japanese tea master performing a traditional tea ceremony at Nobu Hotel.
Blog Article

On the Road with Hugo Reyes Duran

Apr 19, 2024

Headshot of a professional man In the fast-paced world of hospitality, my role as Regional Director of Operations at Davidson Resorts is mostly on the road, and both exhilarating and demanding. This pivotal position entails overseeing the seamless functioning of our resort portfolio, with focus on my designated region, ensuring that each resort upholds the Davidson DNA and operational standards, as well as those form their brand, while delivering exceptional service and memorable guest experiences. Our Resorts are extremely activated properties, they are full of experiences and touchpoints our guests enjoy and interact with daily, resulting in great Guest Experience. I try to stay very involved in this part of our craft when not absorbed by more mechanical admin responsibilities such as evaluating financial performance, labor optimization, training opportunities, etc. What I love the most about my job is the opportunity to spend time in the field, with our property teams and their daily routines. After all, I spent over 2 decades doing many of the roles they do, so it is always refreshing to reminisce and share my own experiences with them in the name of improvement.

At Davidson, our role also requires our involvement in supporting new resort openings, transitions, and renovations. Many times, when visiting a property, I get to multitask by switching between operations and openings mode.

A covered entrance to Embassy Suites Orlando on a cloudy day In today’s trip, I was able to visit 4 properties at once, not bad! We often try to group up some properties in our visits whenever possible, to make travel cost more efficient and reduce the financial burden to them. My day started with trying to get to the airport on time and not miss my flight… believe it or not, when you are on the road so much, you become quite proficient in managing your travel timing. This time, it is a short non-stop flight, not bad! Today, I headed to Orlando, to visit our Margaritaville Orlando team and while there, also visit our new Embassy Suites by Hilton Resort, scheduled to open this summer. After arriving, I meet with the GM Scott Robins and we catch up, I then spend time with Beatriz Ducasse -Director of Finance- on labor optimization, and then tour the property with Scott to get up to speed on operational changes. When done for the day, I find my colleagues Megan Maul and Rachelle Dubuche from Openings and Transitions, and have time to catch up on the latest on Embassy Suites over dinner. The morning happens similarly. It is a custom that we attend team standups in the morning, we like to see our leaders and have an opportunity to say hi and show them some love and support. We then head to Embassy Suites for a sight inspection with Vince Angelo, our recently hired GM to lead the property under Scott, and we discuss the latest developments regarding the project and its opening timeline. We regroup for launch back the Margaritaville property, where we complete some of our weekly calls, and I head back to work on some additional things with Scott and Beatriz. The day is over quickly, time for a quick dinner and some decompressing, then head to bed. I leave in the morning for Miami.

The morning starts early with some last exchanges with Scott and team, we then head to the airport together, Megan Rachelle and I. I decided to get to Miami on the new Brightline train, I’ve heard great things about it and want to give it a try and reminisce my beloved Europe. I’m excited about it. It also helps reduce travel cost as this time of year, as flying to Miami is costly. The train ride is about 3 hours from start to stop, so I head to the train terminal within the Orlando International Airport, and hope on my train, which is ready to depart from Platform number 2.Selfie with Hugo Reyes Duran

The next three hours is a comfortable ride, completed with refreshments and a comfy seat with a view. I’m provided with lunch, so one less thing to worry about today, it is difficult to coordinate time for eating sometimes when traveling, you never know when and where your next meal is! I get my laptop out, connect to the wifi, headphones on, and get to pending work and emails. Some quick stops after, we reach MiamiCentral; Miami’s train station located downtown, where an Uber picks me up and takes me to Miami Beach, to get to Eden Roc and Nobu Miami Beach resorts. It is almost 7pm so I head to my room upon check-in, rushing to catch a quick goodnight snack before showering and heading to bed.

The next morning starts early, joining the standup. Martin Smith the complex GM likes thorough standup meetings, like the ones I’m used to from my time in European hospitality, so I enjoy partaking when no phone calls prevent it. He likes to share historical facts too each morning, which makes it very entertaining, and a good portion of the operations team, the managers, are in attendance. Close to 20! I spend the rest of the day working with the team, and find time with my one-on-one with Melissa Fielding; Hotel Manager at Nobu Miami Beach. In my role, I find it important to spend time with those I refer to as the “2nd in command,” typically hotel managers or director of operations, who are embedded deeper in the day-to-day operation. We discuss everything, with particular attention to finances, labor management, and guest experience, and we find time to walk over to Nobu pool to inspect the renovation taking place, and review samples of new pool chair covers. Salvador Cotes joins up, he is the Director of Pool and Beach.

Training and development also occupy a significant portion of the Regional Director’s agenda. Recognizing that the success of a hotel operation hinges on its people, I always try to prioritize investing time in providing any training and guidance all departments, it also helps me stay updated on the various platforms and practices we employ within Davidson, we call it the Davidson DNA, and honestly, it helps us tremendously!  I also try to spend time with the Directors of F&B, specially in large operations like this one, as I find it important to catch up. Miami moves at a much higher speed, and our Director of Food & Beverage for the complex, Daniel Rivera is a seasoned hospitalitarian with an awesome personality, he always has a great production of event to surprise me with. The day is almost ending so before heading to Ocean Social, the resort’s 3-meal restaurant beachfront, to meet Martin, I have a chance to enjoy one of our signature resort activations at Nobu Hotel. Located in the Lobby and for a good hour, once per month, Japanese Tea Master Akihiki Kaji performs a traditional tea ceremony like those enjoyed by Japanese emperors and dignitaries. This time, he delights our guests with Ippodo, a green tea made with a very exclusive matcha, while his wife passes teacups around, dressed in traditional ceremonial costume. What an activation! The tea is made and offered one teacup at a time; it is breathtaking to watch. I snap a quick picture with Master Kaji and his wife, while I thank them for their dedication to entertaining our guests every month. Alejandro Rivera joins us, he leads the VIP experience at Nobu hotel, what a fun job to have, he always wears the most extravagant shoes!


  • Japanese Tea Master Akihiki Kaji and his wife in traditional clothing for a Japanese tea ceremony activation at Nobu Hotel
  • Japanese tea master performing a traditional tea ceremony at Nobu Hotel.

A group of people working on laptops at a table I head to Ocean Social, where I find Martin, and we catch up on other things as we tour around, to end with dinner. Dinner is also a great time for me to catch up with F&B team, they often see me and come to say hi, I really enjoy learning how well they are doing, and how excited they continue to be, something pleasing in today’s labor market and a testament to Davidson’s consistent turnover rate well below industry average. I also like to watch them in action, it is great to read guests, their expressions, their level of excitement, as they enjoy Chef Tristen Epps’ delicacies and our team’s service. The outlet is packed and vibrant, music is playing, the food is delicious as always, and the managers hit every table and enjoy a brief conversation with our guests. Tonight’s manager is Favio Nisti, a seasoned player with an amazing, service-centric and fun personality. I watch him make magic as usual and command the outlet like if it was his! From time to time, he checks on me and shares little stories, all very energizing.

I’m ready for bed, the day went by so fast, and I have barely had time to get caught up on emails!

The following day starts a bit later, as I catch up on some calls and emails, and head down to connect with Martin one more time, then dedicate a few hours Maria Vilchez, Eden Roc Miami Beach’s Hotel Manager. The time goes by quickly, as we discuss everything operations and guest experience. I stop by to say goodbye to the rest of the team on my way out, the place is jamming with life, and I head to the airport, and then home. No delays or cancellations this time!