As general manager of the new 130-room AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown, Ryan Schmied enjoys a fast-track life by making sure everything at the stunning boutique-style property is running smoothly.

Formerly a refrigerator production factory, warehouse and most recently a TGI Fridays near the Van Andel Arena, the 19th-century space in which the chic AC is located has quite a history.

With the energetic 32-year-old Schmied at the helm, its new incarnation is in good hands not only because he has a stellar background in hospitality and was raised in an international household with family in the hospitality industry, but he also adores Grand Rapids. 

Starting as a doorman after high school, Schmied held various operational roles at the JW Marriott Hotel Miami before transitioning to operations manager on the opening team at Hotel Beaux Arts Miami. Most recently beverage director at Miami-based Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering, he’s spent most of his career in Florida. But it’s the Midwest that he’s now savoring and favoring, and that’s not likely to change. 

“I love Grand Rapids. You get everything you want in a city, and I’ve discovered my local spots,” he says. One of those favorite spots, of course, is the AC and its stunning lounge/lobby area. 

“We have Herman Miller furniture throughout the lounge—iconic items that make you feel at home,” he says. 

The lounge is a focal point come evening. “We serve cool cocktails and a signature beer made just for us.” 

It’s not unusual for Schmied to be passing through the lounge, ensuring guests are comfortable and working with any of his staff of 45. 

When not working, Schmied can often be found at his condominium, across the street from the hotel, reading about wine. “I’m studying for my advanced sommelier exam coming up in October,” he says, adding that he’ll often play golden-era jazz tunes while studying or relaxing. A record collector, he also spends his free time “crate digging,” in other words, shopping for vinyl records. And that passion has transcended into his job. “We’re doing Vinyl & Vino nights at the hotel lounge, so guests and patrons can bring in their own vinyl. We’ll play our favorites, too, and pair them with an appropriate wine suggestion.”   

It’s those types of small creative offerings that make this hotel a standout, in a standout city. “Grand Rapids is really coming on, with new developments and people who think,” Schmied says. “It’s going to happen … we’re going to hit the national stage.” And Schmied will be right at the center. 

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AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown
marriott.com | 616.776.3270

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In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

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League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 

 

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