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Profile: John Adams, General Manager of the 575 room Starr Pass Marriott Resort & Spa
By David Wichner, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Mar. 19, 2004 - John Adams' career as a hotelier has taken him from the sun-baked beaches of Miami to the often-gray-skied cityscape of downtown Chicago. 

Now, Adams, 43, is basking in the sunshine again as general manager of the new Starr Pass Marriott Resort & Spa, taking shape in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains and slated to open in December. 

By experience, reputation and demeanor, Adams seems to have what it takes to launch Tucson's biggest resort -- 575 rooms, 88,000-plus square feet of meeting space and a 27-hole Arnold Palmer Signature golf course -- and make it one of Marriott's crown-jewel destinations. It's a job that Adams, an avid golfer and outdoorsman, sought after vacationing and attending meetings here and seeing the desert resort's potential. 

"Its sheer beauty (and) its natural setting are things that attracted me, as well as trying to continue putting Tucson on the map from a meeting and convention standpoint," he said. 

His family would agree it's a unique property, based on an initial visit to the resort site with his two daughters, 5 and 9 years old. 

"The first night when we arrived, they said: 'Hey, Daddy! We want you to come see our new pet pig.' . . . That's the first time we had seen a javelina," said Adams, who also has a 19-year-old son. He already has experience opening big resorts. In 1986 he was part of the opening management team for the Orlando, Fla., World Center Marriott Resort & Convention Center. 

Adams has been in the hospitality business most of his life. When he was growing up in Miami, his father managed a grocery chain, and his mother taught first grade. Adams started in the business as a valet parking attendant at Miami hotels. By the time he reached college, Adams realized he wanted to make a career in hotels. 

He studied management at the University of Florida, earning a bachelor's degree there, before earning a bachelor's degree in hospitality management from Florida State University. 

He joined Marriott in 1983 as a front-desk trainee at the Miami Airport Marriott Hotel. 

Adams subsequently held positions as manager of room operations, front-office manager, services director, resident manager and general manager at Marriott hotels across Florida and in Washington, D.C. 

While at the Marriott in Fort Lauderdale, Adams spent six years teaching hospitality management as an adjunct professor for Nova Southeastern University. Among his projects was teaching free-market hotel economics to hoteliers in the former Soviet Union from 1990 to 1992. 

While in Chicago, Adams earned a reputation in the local industry as a booster of tourism as an executive board member of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. 

"I was devastated when I learned John was moving on -- he's a fabulous contributor to the community," bureau President Deborah Sexton said. "He's kind of a no-nonsense, get-to-the-point-and-move-on, get-stuff-done type of guy." 

Adams also earned a reputation as a dynamic competitor who understood the needs of both conventioneers and leisure travelers, she said. 

Adams said he follows the management philosophy of company founder J.W. Marriott, who started the business in 1927 with a small root beer stand in Washington, D.C. 

"He built the company on the philosophy that you've got to take the best care you can of the people who work for you, and then you have to go out and demand that they take care of the customers in the best way they can," Adams said. 

That's not to say Adams isn't demanding. The other founder's philosophy Adams embraces is one of "continuous improvement." 

"He always said that success is never final, and I believe that," Adams said. 

-----To see more of The Arizona Daily Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to 

(c) 2004, The Arizona Daily Star. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MAR, 


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