MGM Grand Detroit During the telecast of Super Bowl XLV in February, a Chrysler commercial starring rapper Eminem paid tribute to the gritty spirit of Detroit and garnered much praise from fans of the struggling city. Among them is Steve Zanella, who became general manager of the 400-room MGM Grand Detroit last October. Zanella, who previously served as senior vice president of marketing for the MGM Grand Las Vegas, recently chatted with M&C about his job and the never-say-die Motor City.
Was it much of a culture shock to move from Las Vegas to Detroit? What's interesting is that it was less of a culture shock for me and my wife than it was a weather shock. This is light years away from the arid Nevada desert. And we have plenty of culture here to be proud of. Among American cities, we're second only to New York in the number of theater seats. What I love in particular here in Detroit is the classic 1920s and '30s art-deco architecture -- it makes the gaudy buildings of the Strip in Las Vegas look like so much Styrofoam by comparison.
What are your biggest challenges in running the hotel?
Number one is to constantly maintain our high level of service. We bring one-stop luxury to the city, and we operate as if there is no room for error. Fortunately, we have a great staff helping to make it happen. And now that the economy is starting to come back, we expect our meetings business to grow.
What's new at the hotel for planners?
Well, everything -- we opened late in 2007. We have 30,000 square feet of event space, including a 14,000-square-foot ballroom, plus a number of smaller meeting rooms and boardrooms. And Detroit is a convenient location -- 60 percent of the U.S. population is within a 90-minute flight to Detroit International. So come on over, America!