Jeff Zetlmeisl (Jeff Z as he's affectionately known) has an incredibly inspiring story of rising through the ranks at Turf Valley Resort. His role as an Assistant General Manager, often keeps him behind the scenes ensuring the hotel is running efficiently in every department. I've always likened a hotel's Assistant General Manager to the "man behind the curtain", from ‘The Wizard of Oz'.
Tell me about your professional background and work history?
I have worked in management at Turf Valley Resort my entire adult life (30 years), as well as prior to that in non-management positions. Early on I worked as a dishwasher, bus boy, banquet server, and banquet porter. After a couple of years of college at Towson University, I returned to TVR and worked PT as a Shipping and Receiving Clerk. I did this part-time until I graduated from college. Almost immediately after graduating I was promoted to the Banquet Manager position. A few years later I became the Director of Catering Operations and then, Food and Beverage Director. In 2005, I was promoted to Director of Operations, which exposed me to hotel operations. Then, in 2016 I became the Assistant General Manager of the resort, expanding my involvement to the administrative departments.
For someone not already familiar, how would you describe Turf Valley Resort?
I would describe TVR as a family owned, independent, golf resort property, located in the suburbs of Howard County Maryland, that includes a large Conference/Catering facility, Two Eighteen-hole golf courses, 172 room hotel, full-service Spa, and a full-service restaurant.
Describe a typical day as the Assistant General Manager for a Full-Service Hotel?
A typical day as AGM involves being on property full time and being available to the management team. I assist with solving operational challenges, help with guest recovery issues, attend, or lead departmental meetings, complete physical inspections, answer questions and generally solve problems when they come up. The role consists of handling day to day issues as well as long term planning (determining major purchases and renovation plans). Also, I need to be available to the GM to carry out any requested tasks or goals.
What do you think are 3 important qualities needed to be successful in hotel operations?
You need be a problem solver, stay calm under pressure, and treat your staff with respect and kindness.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a career in hospitality?
Work on improving your face-to-face communication skills; work in several departments in various positions; become comfortable with technology; and learn some basic skills in business/accounting.
What inspires you? Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
My father said a few things that have stuck with me. First, "A good manager makes sure his staff has the proper tools to do their jobs". Second "If you just keep showing up, someone will notice".
Bucket List: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right now, if I could travel anywhere in the world, it would be to Paris, since my trip there this past summer was ruined by Covid.
What's your favorite menu item at Alexandra's?
It is probably the maple glazed salmon. It's always delicious!
What does TVR have in store in the next few years?
TVR is always looking to make upgrades. In the short term, plans are in motion to renovate our Executive King guest rooms this winter. In the next few years, I expect we will see renovations in meeting/banquet rooms and in the Spa. There are also plans for some less exciting, but necessary mechanical upgrades.
I'm sure you have countless stories & experiences over the years at TVR. Is there a favorite memory that comes to mind?
I have many TVR memories and stories but one of my favorites was one of our Preakness Balloon Festival nights. This annual event sometimes ran into weather problems (rain, too much wind etc.) and didn't always go as we hoped it would. One year, I invited my wife and two children to attend, and the weather was perfect for hot air balloons. There was a large crowd, and all the balloons took off and it was just a spectacular sight to see. There were many smiling faces, including my kids. It was awesome!
Finally, how do you decompress after a busy or challenging day of work?
After a busy day at work there a few ways I decompress depending on the day of the week or the time of the year. In the Spring I coach little league baseball, so I love getting to the field to practice with the boys or get them ready for a game. Some days I try to get some exercise either at home or at the gym. Other days I have a pint of beer and a nice meal and hang out with my wife and watch TV. Sometimes it's a combination of all these activities.
If your travels ever bring you to Turf Valley Resort, be sure to say hello to Jeff Z! We are so fortunate to have him at the helm, along with General Manager Pete Mangione!
Betsy Collings, Corporate Account Executive at Turf Valley Resort