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

BEST SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNER
Dorothy DeBlasio

Catering and Conference Services Manager; Black Star Farms; Sutton’s Bay

First Steps: “I’ve been working in the food and beverage industry since I was 13. I always knew I wanted to be a part of food and beverage and the hospitality industry. The event industry was a good fit for me because of how detail oriented I am. I really like a plan in my work and personal life!”

 

UP-AND-COMING SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNER
Sara Carolin

Development Manager; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Metro Detroit/ Southeast Michigan Chapter; Southfield

Job Changes: Sara was selected for this honor while performing event coordinator duties for Quicken Loans in Detroit, where she worked for more than three years. Earlier this year, she joined the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Southfield.

 

BEST MEETING PROFESSIONAL
Kim Corcoran, CMP

President; Destination Michigan/Meetings Michigan; Dexter

On Her Role: “It combines my marketing background with my love of meetings and events. The programs I create, plan and execute bring together professionals with the hotels, resorts, CVBs and other suppliers that make the meetings and events happen.”