Courtesy of Tajhira Omphroy

Ryan Grande, a graduate of the Hotel School, was recently named manager of Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica.

September 18, 2018

Hotel School Alumnus Reflects on Path from Cornell to Resort Management in Costa Rica

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Ryan Grande M.M.H ’10, Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica’s newest manager, said in a telephone interview with The Sun that his secrets to professional success are passion, focus and constant learning.

Grande became interested in the international hotel business at an early age, he said. He has always loved to travel, but as he got older, he also developed a fascination for other aspects of the industry.

“All of the things I am quite interested in — real estate, food and beverage, exploration, tourism, travel, geopolitics, business, problem-solving … you have all of that tied into one industry. That is the hospitality industry,” Grande said.

In 2010, Grande earned a master’s certificate in the essentials of hospitality management from Cornell, a program he said had been “tremendously monumental” for his career. The knowledge and skills he gained eight years ago are still applicable in his current position, he noted.

In addition to learning from Cornell professors, he said he benefited the most from engaging with other students.

“I was presenting my take on a particular problem relative to food and beverage cost, and I would have another classmate chime in my conversation, who is a general manager at a hotel in the Middle East, and another one who is the director of operations in Asia,” Grande described.

“Everyone would throw in their own ideas, interpretations and perspectives,” he continued. “I think that’s the greatest learning experience … it’s the diversity of thoughts that’s super important.”

Grande started working at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts over 10 years ago. He began at a resort in his hometown of Toronto and has since worked at various Four Seasons locations around the world.

Prior to becoming the resort manager of the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, Grande was the resort’s director of residences. Previously, he was the assistant director of rooms and front office manager at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.

A leader in the luxury hotel industry, Four Seasons has provided him with valuable learning opportunities and “overwhelming support,” Grande said.

“If you want to be the best, you want to work for the best. You want to be a part of the best. You want to cater to individual companies that have the best standards … and benchmarks,” he said.

In Four Seasons’ culture, where “it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fail because that’s how you get creative and learn,” Grande said he has experienced great personal growth.

During his years at Four Seasons, he has made his way up the ranks. In his new role as resort manager, Grande said he is responsible for the “full day-to-day operations of the entire resort.”

“The guest experience from the time they booked online, and after they depart is all under your level of responsibility,” he said.

Although he has acknowledged the job to be a “little daunting,” Grande expressed that he is committed to creating the best possible guest experiences.

“I [also] want to create the best employee experience,” he said. “I want to develop the local stuff … so they can really take ownership and be part of the new wave of leadership with our brand.”

Grande described himself as someone “who constantly learns” and is “exceptionally focused on his goals.” He said he is not only devoted to fulfilling his duties, but he is also interested in the future of the hotel chain. He said the future of the business lies in its residential sector.

He then went on to stress that passion is “the most important point out of everything” he had said during the interview.

“I really love what I do. I have a great passion for connecting with people, problem-solving, service delivery. I can’t imagine doing anything else in my career,” he said.

He offered to connect with aspiring Cornell students who wish to work in hospitality, via email.

“You are about to embark on the best business. It’s a business that can take you anywhere in the world … No two days are alike,” he said.