A Future Begins Here...
Montage is proud of its talented group of associates. Their stories and attitudes inspire...among our superstars are:
Montage Beverly Hills Lead Therapist
Cherie Rodriguez has been helping others since her earliest days. As a 6-year-old, she became intrigued watching the family doctor administer reflexology treatments to her grandparents, and she began massaging the feet of all who came to visit.
"I'd try to do what he did, and I learned a few special areas, but it was mostly just a relaxing foot massage," she smiles. Her first job continued her dedication to service, as she became a home health aide for elderly people, specifically those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, when she was only 15.
With a plan to study cosmetology, Cherie later began working at a hair salon where she was retail supervisor for two years before being offered a salon management position. However, she decided to decline the promotion, and instead moved to Salt Lake City to attend Utah College of Massage Therapy, one of the nation's leading schools of bodywork.
"I am amazed by Montage," she explains. "The standard that everyone has here is the highest level, and I also really wanted to be able to participate in the ASTECC program." In fact, Cherie recently completed her yearlong ASTECC certification program and then teamed with fellow ASTECC therapist Michelle McAllister to teach a three-month curriculum of therapeutic training classes for our massage therapists. Cherie has also achieved another of her career goals, as she was named Lead Therapist for Montage Beverly Hills.
"Some of my favorite 'Wow!' moments have blossomed from working with guests over an extended period of time," she smiles. "At Spa Montage, we've been provided with the encouragement and tools necessary to work with individuals suffering from a variety of maladies and to help them turn their lives and outlook around. It's so gratifying to be part of a team that really can change people's lives!"
Montage Laguna Beach Studio Captain
Lisa Padilla is passionate about food and wine! "When most kids were coming home to wash the dirt off their faces for dinner, I was washing the flour off my face from my zealous attempts at making tortillas!" she laughs.
Lisa grew up in Huntington Beach with her mother and grandparents and took an active interest in the kitchen at a very young age. "It's hard not to, when the topic of conversation always centered around what the next meal of the day was going to be!"
"When my grandmother cooked for us, I could always see the smile, not just on her lips, but in her eyes and heart. It made her feel good to feed us. That's what led me to hospitality. I recognized at an early age that it feels good to feed people." Thus began Lisa's rewarding career in the front of the house, a place where, as she says, "I could work with, and be inspired by, the talent of a kitchen, a place where I could continually learn about food and wine, and a place where the gratitude was evident in the smiling faces of the guests." Lisa joined Montage as a member of Studio's pre-opening team after many years serving restaurant guests at Aqua in the St. Regis, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, and the Claim Jumper.
"Montage is such a wonderful place to explore my passion for taking care of people and for continually learning" she smiles. "We have weekly wine tastings and a team of three sommeliers with a wealth of experience to share with us, and we have a culinary team that is on the forefront of gastronomic trends while still adhering to the fundamentals of seeking local, organic, and sustainable food sources. There is never a day that passes where we are not challenged to perfect some basic knowledge or learn something new!"
Montage Deer Valley Beverage Manager
A self-proclaimed extrovert who thrives on entertaining others, Dave Wallace has been passionate about food and beverage service since he was a 14-yr-old busboy at Patio 480 in Laguna Beach.
"I was ready to come home to Laguna when Montage was due to open," he remembers with a smile. "A member of the pre-opening team actually recruited me. I came on a tour when everything was still unfinished and covered in dust, but the warmth and passion of everyone I met was infectious." Although Dave had never worked in a hotel before, his quest for personal fulfillment propelled him to enter the new industry, and his natural effervescence immediately attracted a large guest following.
His language and service skills continued to develop, and he availed himself of all the opportunities to learn. In 2004, Dave chose to delve further into the world of wine and enrolled in the "Ask a Somm" classes at Montage. He successfully passed the Introductory Examination from the Court of Master Sommeliers and has since passed the Level II exam and has become one of the sommeliers at The Loft. He also instructs all new Associates in the monthly Basic Beverage classes.
"Becoming a sommelier was a career decision," he explains, "and it put me on a different path from bartending. We have a great team of sommeliers at Montage, people who have been instrumental in my development. They are very willing to share their information and their passion, which has made my progression possible."
Dave's drive for knowledge has continued to prompt him to expand his understanding of wine and has stimulated his desire to understand more. "Every day, I can talk about wine until the sun comes up!" he laughs. Recently, he and a group of friends shared a chocolate tasting, pairing one Italian dessert wine with 25 types of chocolate to see what combinations worked best.
Despite Dave's focus on wine, he is equally passionate about traveling and exploring other cultures, sampling native dishes and beverages, and participating in a plethora of adventure sports throughout the world. He has eaten alligator in Australia, sampled Pisco Sours in Chile, gone skydiving from helicopters in several countries, jumped off natural cliffs into small pools of water, rappelled under waterfalls, and river rafted in Chile and Australia. Of course, he's also enjoyed the more tame sports of snowboarding and skim boarding! "There's always time to fit in a bit of personal fun and balance," he explains with a smile.
Dave Wallace definitely knows how to enjoy life!
Montage Laguna Beach Director of Guest Services
With the career goal of becoming an executive hotelier, Tim Ward joined Montage Laguna Beach as a Security Officer in October, 2003, following his graduation from San Francisco State University with a BS degree in Hospitality Management. Tim had heard about Montage while he was still a student; he knew he wanted to work at the resort in any capacity in order to begin learning about hospitality.
"I had worked in a restaurant before college, and I realized that I wanted to be around people, not food!" he laughs. "I could see that Montage was a place where the Associates are all on the same page, sharing the same values and striving to live the Mission statement every day. It felt like family from the very beginning."
Tim's versatility and determination have been cornerstones in his career growth at Montage. "I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn the entire Resort during the six months I was working in Security. It was a terrific experience and one that was very useful to me as a Guest Receptionist. Our guests have an intense curiosity about Montage, and it's rewarding to be able to answer their questions," he continues.
In recognition of his exemplary demonstration of the Montage values on a daily basis, Tim was selected as a Montage Master in October, 2004, and was then promoted to Assistant Manager of Guest Services in March, 2005, to Guest Reception Manager in February, 2006, and to Director of Guest Services in June, 2008. Tim's management peers recognized his contributions to the Montage culture, selecting him as a Master of Values in Practice (MVP) for the first quarter of 2008.
"I really like seeing our guests' reactions when we've exceeded their expectations. That's what it's all about," he smiles. Tim is an active listener who takes the time to really listen to what our guests' needs are. His upbeat attitude contributes to the positive outcome of every task he undertakes.
Tim is well-known for his ability to create emotional attachments with our guests. One example is the family from Jacksonville, Florida, with whom he has connected during their many visits to the resort. When their daughter was ready to begin college, the parents brought her to Montage while they looked at schools in the area. After listening to what they wanted to do during their visit, Tim sent them information regarding local apartment rentals, school information, and local surf information, since their daughter is an avid surfer. When the young woman decided to attend Saddleback College, she even ended up moving into the apartment complex where Tim used to live! Now, the parents frequently come and stay at Montage while they visit their daughter.
In addition to his passion for delivering extraordinary guest service, Tim is passionate about spending time with his new bride, Julie, as well as surfing and playing golf.
Catering Manager, Montage Laguna Beach
Tiffani Munsey, Catering Manager at Montage Laguna Beach, loves planning parties!
"I'm a 'Theme-aholic!'" she laughs. Whether it's organizing an O'Munsey Pub birthday party for her husband Seth or creating an elegant evening at the Chef's Table at Studio, Tiffani is masterful and innovative.
Recently, while planning a dinner at the Chef's Table, she learned that her guests were tequila fans. With the help of one of Studio's bartenders, Tiffani created a personalized tequila menu for the group, including such custom offerings as "Three Amigos," a unique three-shot selection, and she presented the menus to the surprised guests as they arrived for dinner.
"I love making people happy and creating memorable, personal experiences," she smiles. "It's not just a dinner, it's a memory!"
A California native, Tiffani grew up in Modesto and Pacific Grove and graduated from Sonoma State University in business administration with a focus on marketing. An accomplished artist, she also studied photography, painting, and line drawing at the university, all hobbies she continues today.
Tiffani began her career at Montage Laguna Beach in 2004 as a hostess in The Loft and became Assistant Manager of Restaurant Sales nine months later. Her meticulous artistry was so frequently praised by her guests, that Tiffani was promoted to Manager of Restaurant Sales and then to Catering Manager.
Always an enthusiastic learner, Tiffani eagerly absorbed the vast array of food and beverage classes offered at Montage, including cheese, chocolate, and food-wine pairings. She also passed the qualifying exam for the Introductory Course administered by the Court of Master Sommeliers at Montage Laguna Beach. In addition, Tiffani continued her personal growth by becoming a Departmental Trainer, and by completing "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and Leadership I.
"These classes inspired me to look at things differently," she explains. "They brought to the forefront what I inherently knew, but they took me out of my daily routine to look at things with a fresh perspective. I recognized that to be successful at work, I also needed to focus on myself. Hospitality is all about giving of ourselves, and we need to take time to give to ourselves as well. Montage reminds us of this through the way we all are appreciated."
The idea for Hearts of Montage was born in 2003 when the associates of Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, Calif. wanted to identify a way to serve the needs of our community. In cooperation with the management team at Montage Hotels & Resorts, we began to develop a plan to make an impact in our community.