by Terence Baker | March 01, 2006

Barbara Schmaelzle

Planners have not been scared off from going to Cancun, where two of my properties were damaged.

Barbara Schmaelzle is the Orlando-based market director of group sales for Marriott and Renaissance’s Caribbean and Mexico resorts (www.paradisebymarriott.com). The division has eight properties, including the 481-room Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She manages a sales staff of 21.

How did you get into the hotel business? My father owned a travel agency in Connecticut, and my first role at Marriott, my only employer, was on the operations side. I was asked to do some marketing due to my travel agency experience, and that is how I got into sales. When I got married, I moved to Florida and worked through Marriott to my present position.

Do you have a central office? No, I work from home, and my staff is scattered throughout the country; I bring them together twice a year. Marriott’s internal organization and individual business maturity allows this noncentralized system to work. The key is communication.

Did last year’s hurricanes affect you? Three of our properties two in Aruba, one in Curaçao are outside the hurricane belt. Planners have not been scared off from going to Cancun, where two of my properties were damaged, but I tell them they need to partner with us and the hotel in question to formulate joint solutions to prepare for such eventualities.

How do you relax? I recently took up tennis and joined a league. I bring my racket with me on business trips.