|By Liset Marquez, Inland Valley Daily
Bulletin, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 25, 2011--ONTARIO -- Karen Pedersen, general manager of the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson at Ontario Mills, is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get to work.
It's that work ethic that helped Pedersen recently earn the title General Manager of the Year. She was selected out of 500 Country Inn & Suites by Carlson worldwide.
The hotel company handed Pedersen, 51, the award last week during the chain's conference in Washington, D.C. Pedersen, who has been with the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson for more than 10 years, said she was shocked by the news.
"This could not have been earned by myself. It was earned by my staff," the Fontana resident said.
When the hotel, located on the perimeter of the Ontario Mills mall, opened in December 2008, Pedersen said it was probably during the worst time in this economy. And visitors to the city, a hub for the Inland Empire's business travelers, have their share of lodging to choose from.
Despite the timing and competition, the hotel has improved its occupancy rate.
The Ontario hotel has been ranked No. 2 of 41 hotels in the city by Trip Advisor, a website which bases its listings from traveler reviews and opinions.
It has also achieved a 9.21 rating out of 10 from the corporation's guest satisfaction survey, Pedersen said.
As the occupancy rates at the hotel have increased, so has the staffing. When the hotel first opened, it operated with a staff of 15.
There are now up to 30 employees, some who are part-time, she said.
Catherine Hernandez, assistant general manager at the the hotel, has worked with Pedersen for the past two years. She credits the hotel's success and Pedersen's managing style as reasons for the recognition.
"She's more of a hands-on manager," Hernandez said. "She steps in whenever she's needed. If they need help on the front desk she'll step in there."
Hernandez describes Pedersen as one of the hardest working women in this industry, noting that it is also rare for the general manager to call in sick.
Pedersen has been in the hotel industry for 19 years, the recent 11 years of which has been with Carlson hotels.
Within the Carlson corporation, Pedersen has worked her way up the ranks. She first started in the restaurant division of the hotel company and later worked in the customer service division, as well as human resources.
Those experiences have helped shape who she is as a manager, she said.
"If I'm not willing to do it then why should I expect my staff to do it?," Pedersen said. "I've worked every weekend and holiday and now I can ask my employees to. That taught me great skills I needed to be successful."
But the key to the hotel's success, Pedersen said, has been providing great customer service to clients.
"We've have had a little bit of an uphill battle. We are in direct competition with 10 different hotels," she said. "When we get them into our hotel we're going to kill them with kindness, so we can get them to return."
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Copyright (c) 2011, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Calif.
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