Quick Chat With Steve Zanella

Steve Zanella
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!

On the Move

PlannersKathy Fort CartyKathy Fort Carty has been named president of Allied North America, a part of global destination management company Allied International. She oversees the operations of subsidiary PRA Destination Manage­ment's 20 U.S.-based offices.


Lori HendrickIn Research Triangle Park, N.C., Lori Hendrick has joined the Bur­roughs Wellcome Fund as the organization's meeting professional.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based global site-selection and meeting procurement company Hospitality Performance Network Global has hired Loriann White as vice president, global accounts.

Suppliers Richard BakerIn Hong Kong, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has promoted Richard Baker to executive vice president, operations director -- the Americas.

Snowmass Tourism, the marketing arm of Snowmass Village, Colo., has hired Fred Brodsky as group sales director.

Marla Dunn has been appointed sales and services director for the 830-room Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii. The resort will open in August.

At the 120-room St. Regis Punta Mita Resort on the Riviera Nayarit on Mexico's Pacific coast, Carl Emberson has been named general manager.

Debbie KaseLas Vegas Meetings by Cae­sars Enter­tainment has announced several promotions: Debbie Kase (right) has been named national sales manager for Bally's Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas, Destinee Walker is now sales manager for the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, and Matthew Waltersdorf is national sales manager at Flamingo Las Vegas.

The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau recently appointed Ishmael Kolthoff, CMP, as director of sales. He is based in New York City.

Sylvia LucierSylvia Lucier has joined the 410-room Renaissance Palm Springs (Calif.) as sales manager, responsible for the California state association and state government markets.



Claude MolinariClaude Molinari has been appointed assistant general manager at Detroit's Cobo Center.

At the new 176-room St. Regis Bangkok in Thailand, Andreas Oberoi has been named general manager and Holger Jakobs is  director of sales and marketing.


Cindy Proven­cherCindy Proven­cher has been appointed division president, Chicago, for MC2, an exhibit and event marketing company based in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y.