Profiles: Hollie Ksiezyk, The Hospitality Ambassador
Hollie M. Ksiezyk, a Northeast Ohio native, has been a leader with The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland for the past five years. As a proud member of the Marriott Community, Hollie has been a true ambassador of the brand as she serves as a Board Member of LifeBanc Gift of Life Walk, The Cleveland Special Events Corporation and is Co-Chair for Gay Games 9, 2014 in Cleveland and Akron. Hollie actively engages her fellow ladies and gentlemen as she participates in community organizations and fundraising events, including Cleveland PRIDE, the annual HRC Gala, Equality Ohio, A Prom to Remember and the first ever Dare2Care Anti Bullying event. She is currently the Catering Sales Manager at The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland receiving the prestigious Chairman’s Circle Award in 2010.
How would you sum up the visitor experience in Cleveland/Akron? Surprising!! We welcome so many visitors and guests each year and I can honestly say the consistent feedback I receive is that people are genuinely surprised at how dynamic our cities are and the amazing culture we embrace. I often speak about our incredible restaurants and chef-owned eateries and the fact that you will see very few “chains” in our towns. From our museums and performing arts centers, our professional and minor league sports teams, new business development and 98% downtown resident occupancy, people walk away saying “wow, I never would have expected this.”
What is the hospitality community doing to make LGBT visitors feel more welcomed? Well, here at The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland, we pride ourselves on really being the first downtown hotelier to actively market and sell specifically to the LGBT community. We have developed a LGBT package that includes in-room amenities such as the LGBT Visitors Guide, a Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland rainbow duck and a Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland rainbow pin. We participated in our first gay pride in 2011 and are members of IGLTA, NGLCC and Plexus and support Equality Ohio, GLSEN, HRC, WH2, G2H2 and Dare2Care. Additionally, as a Marriott brand we are very proud of Marriott’s new “Be You With Us” campaign that launched their LGBT travel website.
What are the top “must-see” visitor attractions? The Rock Hall and Science Center, of course, MOCA and the Cleveland Museum of Art have recently been transformed into industry leaders with new architecture and state-of-the-art technology. You must stop by the West Side Market and spend an afternoon wandering around the Warehouse District as well as East 4th Street. If you are looking for great ethnic communities outside of downtown, I recommend Tremont, Little Italy and Coventry.
LGBT visitors depend on word-of-mouth suggestions, any favorite neighborhood spots? The following are LGBT owned establishments as well as places that have reached out to the community in a show of support. For breakfast/brunch, Latitude 41! For business lunch, Pura Vada. For business happy hour, Muse. For friends happy hour, Barley House and Bar Louie. For dinner with friends, The Greenhouse Tavern, Blue Pointe Grille, Hyde Park and Morton’s. For dancing/entertainment, Bounce/Union Cafe.