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Anna Marie Presutti | The Vice President and General Manager | Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Honored, Humbled and Proud: Anna Marie Presutti’s Reflection on Hospitality Leadership

The vibrant pulse of Hotel Nikko San Francisco—a space where each decision echoes in the comfort of a guest’s stay. At the heart of this hub is Anna Marie Presutti, the Vice President and General Manager of Hotel Nikko San Fransisco, converging innovation and hospitality into the essence of the guest experience.

Navigating challenges in the hospitality industry requires not just expertise—it requires a unique blend of resilience and foresight. In a world where uncertainties can be as frequent as check-ins, Anna Marie thrives. Her journey is more than a professional trajectory—it’s a narrative of leadership, innovation and commitment. Her decisions transcend beyond management and, moreover, reflect a dedication to the well-being of her team and guests.

Beyond the elegant corridors and luxurious rooms, Anna Marie champions sustainability initiatives that transform Hotel Nikko into an example of eco-conscious hospitality. Her commitment isn’t merely about guest experiences; it’s about leaving an indelible mark for generations.

Let’s explore how Anna Marie is shaping not just a stay but an experience!

Beyond the Lobby

Along with her position at Hotel Nikko SF, Anna Marie embodies a unique blend of roles and responsibilities, stating, “I am fortunate enough to have a unique position where I do what needs to be done and fit the role that is needed.” Juggling the day-to-day operations of Hotel Nikko San Francisco, she goes beyond as a board member of Okura Nikko Management Company and SF Travel standing as the only GM in San Francisco on the US Travel Board.

Her primary focus is on the hotel and her dedicated staff, relying on a well-organized team she trusts implicitly. Anna Marie’s influence, however, extends beyond the hotel’s walls. As a board member for SF Travel, the hotel council and USTA, she passionately advocates for San Francisco nationally and internationally. She remarks, “To do this, it requires me to show up all over the US and even abroad to share what an amazing city San Francisco is.”

In the hospitality industry, Anna Marie finds reward in its adaptability and resilience expressing gratitude for her team’s safety and employment during the challenges of the pandemic. Reflecting on the unpredictable journey, she notes, “There was no rulebook as we navigated through that unprecedented period, just vague regulations and laws that seemed arbitrary at best.” Yet, here she stands, almost four years later, an embodiment of the enduring strength of the industry.

Lessons from the Field

In any industry there are always uphill battles, no matter the circumstances or opportunities given. “During the time I started my career, it was not the same game as it is today.” She acknowledges the transformative power of mindset and attitude, emphasizing, “The biggest challenge came with me getting out of my own head and removing any doubt I may have had.”

Drawing inspiration from her background in team sports, Anna Marie instills the fundamentals of discipline, teamwork and determination in her team at Hotel Nikko. “You never want to quit before the game is over and that is something that I push to instill in my team each and every day.” Despite challenges, she asserts, “Hotel Nikko will fight until we have exhausted every option and not just roll over when times are tough.”

Anna Marie sees every opportunity as a life lesson, noting, “Every risk or job out of my comfort zone has contributed to the leader I am today.”

In the Face of Uncertainty

No one was prepared for COVID-19all I could do in my decisions and choices was what was best for my team and to follow the science,” declares Anna Marie, embodying resilience in the face of the unprecedented. As a GM, she navigated challenges by exceeding city regulations, prioritizing safety and making tough choices ahead of the curve.

We were fortunate enough to have owners who allowed us to remain open throughout the pandemic,” she notes, illustrating the dedication to keeping doors open while responsibly limiting guests to essential travel. Anna Marie’s leadership shone through when she made the early and initially unconventional decision to mandate employee vaccinations. “People said I was crazy, but before you knew it, that’s how the legislature went and here we are today,” she reflects, showcasing foresight and commitment to safety.

Amid uncertainties, Anna Marie managed facility upgrades, renovating several floors during low business periods. “We had no idea how to navigate covid as a lot of people didn’t, but I believe we did the best we could with the given situation and uncharted territory that we all experienced,” she asserts.

Stand Out in the City

At Hotel Nikko San Francisco, we pride ourselves on exceptional Japanese service,” Anna Marie emphasizes, highlighting the core foundation of their establishment. “Our motto is ‘suberashee omide,’ which literally translates to fantastic memories and that is what we want our guests to have.”

The commitment to service extends beyond standards—it involves making genuine connections and ensuring a memorable stay. Anna Marie notes, “Paying attention to the details is what makes us unique.” From sushi chefs trained in Japan for an authentic experience to the precise placement of in-room amenities, Hotel Nikko focuses on the intricacies that enhance the guest experience.

A distinctive touch comes in the form of canine mascots Buster and Beau, challenging norms in the industry. “Everyone thought that I was nuts for trying something like this, but it has become something that we are really now known for,” Anna Marie shares. The furry duo not only meets and greets guests but embarks on adventures turned into captivating stories by the marketing department and creating a unique charm. Or as she puts it, “With our standards of service, attention to detail and furry friends it makes us unique, and this circles back to staying relevant, and standing out in the sea of hotels in the San Francisco market.”

Opening Doors

Inclusion and Diversity is something we have always been cognizant of at Hotel Nikko,” Anna Marie emphasizes, underscoring the commitment to a globally diverse staff. “Our staff comes from all over the world, from different cultures and creeds, and remain with us for their entire careers.”

Anna Marie’s vision for inclusivity is embodied in the Manager in Training program. “One program that I designed and implemented a few years back is the Manager in Training program,” she shares. This initiative strategically targets top universities with hospitality schools, offering graduating students a life-changing opportunity at Hotel Nikko.

The program, spanning nine months, provides housing, relocation and immersive training in every aspect of hotel management. Anna Marie states, “With a successful completion, we offer them a manager position within the Hotel,” creating a pathway for diverse talents to thrive in the hospitality industry.

Greening the Stay

“At Hotel Nikko San Francisco, our foundational belief is on building for the future and having a harmonious environment,” Anna Marie declares, echoing the ethos instilled by their Japanese parent company—Okura International. This belief translates into a commitment to sustainability, leaving a lasting impact on future generations.

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than closing doors, Hotel Nikko San Francisco took essential and strategic steps towards greener practices. “One of the simplest but most effective changes was through partnering with SFPUC to upgrade our flushing system,” Anna Marie explains. The aqua tanks in guest and employee toilets were revamped, showcasing a commitment to water conservation.

Partnerships with Ecolab and Forbes standards drove changes in internal laundry practices and guest room linens aligning with eco-friendly values. The hotel introduced intelligent thermostats, recycling and compost bins, bamboo takeaway containers, and refillable aluminum water bottles demonstrating a comprehensive approach to reducing environmental impact.

A standout initiative involves microturbines on the hotel’s roof, reclaiming energy in a carbon-negative loop. Anna Marie proudly notes, “This multi-million-dollar project… converts the exhaust waste into thermal energy we can reuse repeatedly.” Additionally, Waste Management Experts ensure responsible waste disposal, reflecting a holistic approach to environmental responsibility.

Hotel Nikko’s commitment extends beyond industry standards. “We take pride in our local community and do what it takes to ensure a healthy and bright future for generations to come,” Anna Marie affirms. The hotel goes above and beyond, continuously exploring the latest in green research to lead the way in sustainable hospitality. As a part of the local community of Hotels in San Francisco, Hotel Nikko considers it as its duty to make every effort to ensure visiting guests, domestic or international know that San Francisco supports the fight against global warming.

Beyond the Gadgets

As this industry grows, staying current and relevant in a crowded space is a challenge, Anna Marie highlights the ever-evolving nature of hospitality. She emphasizes the importance of discernment, stating, “Knowing when to filter out the noise and determine what looks great on paper and sounds amazing doesn’t always translate to real-life situations and what is practical for a guest.”

In an era of high-tech gadgets, Anna Marie questions their value if guests struggle to use them. “If you have all these high-tech gadgets built for the convenience of the consumer, but a guest has no clue how to use them, what good are they?” Her insights underscore the balance between embracing innovation and ensuring practicality for a seamless guest experience in the dynamic hospitality landscape.

Leadership Lessons

It is interesting you ask,” Anna Marie reflects, a hint of contemplation in her words. While acknowledging encounters with great leaders in her career, she unveils a pivotal experience of mentorship from her journey. “From my experience, not all mentors are positive.” Recalling a less-than-ideal team leader, she candidly admits, “It wasn’t always positive and as I was moving up in my career, I knew that I did not want to lead like them.”

Anna Marie’s journey has become a lesson in leadership and she reveals, “What I learned and my biggest takeaway was about what NOT to do as a leader & how not to treat people.” The experience shaped her approach, emphasizing motivation and engagement in leadership. “Be the change you want to see… and as a leader, it starts with you,” she advises. Anna Marie encourages a proactive stance in mentorship, urging others to reflect on the mentor they desire, seek them out, learn, and then pass on the knowledge.

The Art of Balance

Work-life balance? If someone from the outside looked at my calendar and travel schedule, they would assume I would have no idea of the concept,” Anna Marie acknowledges the demanding nature of her role. However, she reveals her strategies to maintain equilibrium in the chaos.

The first thing is to plan ahead. I have my calendar laid out for 6 months minimum,” she shares, emphasizing the importance of foresight in managing numerous meetings and calls. Anna Marie’s routine is a crucial anchor, “On average, I like to be in bed by 9 on most days and get at least 8 hours of sleep if I can.” Her commitment to clean eating is evident even on the go with a preference for balanced meals.

Lastly, I would say make time to unwind,” Anna Marie advises, highlighting the necessity of leisure. Golfing serves as her escape, offering moments on the green to decompress. “Sundays are always football and the dogs,” she smiles, revealing a cherished downtime with her furry companions Buster and Beau.

Pride and Purpose

Anna Marie stands as a guiding light and inspiration in the world of hospitality. When asked about her recent recognition as one of the Influential Women Leaders in Hospitality for 2023, she reflects, “Whenever I hear I was either nominated or won an amazing award like this, it feels surreal, I always think to myself… Really? Me?” The acknowledgment brings forth a trio of emotions.

#1 I feel honored,” she says, her voice resonating with genuine pride. Anna Marie recognizes the significance of her role, understanding that her actions reverberate through the corridors of influence and shaping the path for the next generation of female leaders.

#2 I’m incredibly humbled,” she continues, expressing gratitude to be part of a distinguished cohort. Having shared the highs and lows of the industry with remarkable individuals, she feels a sense of unity in the journey.

#3 And lastly, I feel a deep sense of pride,” Anna Marie states, breaking barriers in a predominantly male-dominated industry. As the General Manager of a Japanese-owned property for over 19 years, she challenges stereotypes. “I am lucky enough to work for a company that values commitment and a proven track record,” she notes, dispelling preconceived notions about cultural influences in the hospitality realm.

Show Up and Stand Out

To the future women leaders out there, my advice would be not to miss an opportunity,” urges Anna Marie, advising the aspiring leaders. “Trust your gut instinct and take that risk. You will never know when fate is knocking on your door and you will regret turning your back on it.” Anna Marie emphasizes the importance of seizing moments and embracing uncertainty knowing that every opportunity holds potential for growth.

She extends valuable counsel on networking, stating, “Your next job isn’t on a job posting or company website, but the industry event on the weeknight. Show up and make yourself known.” Anna Marie underscores the impact of presence, asserting, “Showing up is half the game and making a name for yourself starts there.”

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