What do Mumbai, Shanghai, Doha and Detroit all have in common? Townsend Hotel General Manager Steven Kalczynski.
Kalczynski took the helm at the Townsend in September after decades working in the world’s top luxury hotels. Lured to Michigan from Doha, Kalczynski says when he arrived at the Townsend, "I just loved the feel of it."
Of course, a lot of people love the Townsend’s feel- a AAA Four Diamond luxury property, the hotel routinely garners accolades for its exceptional service and sumptuous setting. The Townsend is celebrating 25 years of business, and Kalczynski is charged with maintaining a sophisticated operation that caters to everyone from major dignitaries to celebrities to regular couples celebrating their wedding night.
"We have developed a reputation over the last 25 years of dealing with the exceptional clientele- those who want the best of the best," Kalczynski says. "Our associates know the customer, know their names, know what they want. People are coming here because of the way they’re treated."
Kalcyznski started his career as a part-time security supervisor at a Sheraton in Boston. A general manager suggested he take a front-office position, where he thrived. He spent a decade working with Sheraton hotels around the country.
In the 1990s, Kalczynski decided he wanted to work in Asia. He boarded a plane to Shanghai to look for a job, a week-old newspaper his only lead. Luckily, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts hired him.
"I just loved going into new destinations, learning new cultures," Kalczynski says. "I would put a lot of time into learning how to communicate."
After nine years in China, he returned to the United States to work with Starwood Hotels & Resorts as director of its franchise operations, covering about 40 properties in the Midwest. He then joined Oberoi Hotels and Resorts in Mumbai, at a five-star property he calls "one of those fantastic dreamlike places." Kalczynski reopened the Oberoi property, which had been damaged in the 2008 bomb blast. He then rejoined the Sheraton, this time as general manager of Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, where he remained until the Townsend came calling.
"I’ve been very fortunate to work in luxury hotels," he says. "You can be greeting a vice president at the door and next having lunch with a housekeeper. I really, really like that."