This Hospitality Grad Manages a Castle Hotel
Ken Utsumi (Hospitality, ‘17) shares insights from his role as a general manager and COO at Castle Hotel & Spa in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley.
Ken Utsumi earned his MBA in Osaka before enrolling in ICE’s Hospitality & Hotel Management program to add a specialized certificate to his resume. “I got confidence to succeed in the hospitality industry through the program and still use my school book as a bible for daily operations,” he says.
In Japan, he gained experience in human resources, marketing and operations with a hospitality company called Hirakawa Shoji Co Ltd. and was a general manager at Sankara Hotel & Spa for a year. When he moved to New York to attend ICE in 2016, Ken externed at Sheraton on the sales and marketing team, learning the procedures for executing events and how to sell packages to walk-ins.
Upon graduation, he was hired as the general manager and COO of Castle Hotel & Spa, which Sankara Hospitality Group owns and manages, in Tarrytown, a half-hour north of New York City. The historic property began as a castle in 1910 and became a luxury hotel in 1996. Today, Ken says the property prides itself on a cross-boundary team operation and offers flexible, efficient and attentive service.
“Luxury hotels depend on details,” he explains. “Being picky about details and attentive to guests sets the services and operation apart.”
Castle Hotel & Spa has 31 rooms and suites, a fine-dining restaurant called Equus, a spa, seasonal pool, library and ballroom. There are in-room fireplaces, luxury packages with day trips, and wedding, meeting and event spaces. The 10-acre property requires many positions and departments to operate.
Ken says general managers need skills from all facets of hospitality businesses: accounting, marketing, human resources, sales and events, food and beverage, spa, housekeeping and maintenance.
“If you want to become a GM, you need to work harder than others, be a patient person, and be introspective about becoming a good leader,” Ken advises. “We hire great staff to train good people to work with and great leaders. Staff retention improves the quality of service.”
Ken says his role requires “a balance between knowledge and experience,” and recommends earning "a certificate for a dependable career."
Pursue your passion for service in Hospitality & Hotel Management at ICE.