It is with great pleasure that I submit a former associate, Jessica Naegely, for the annual GEM Award. I have been in the lodging industry for thirty-six years and have had the pleasure of working with more than a thousand wonderful associates. While many of these associates have understood and practiced Mr. Marriott’s theory that your guests should be treated with the same care as you would give a best friend or family member, I feel Jessica truly embraces this concept.
Jessica Naegely was a dining room and room-service server for our property for five years while she attended the University of Southern Maine. One evening Jessica was asked to bring four bottles of Gatorade to an overnight guest on the concierge level. Upon delivering the Gatorade to this guest, although she didn’t know him, she noted that he appeared very unstable on his feet and he was obviously quite ill. She asked if there was anything she could do for him but he said with the Gatorade he would be fine. He said he had a touch of the flu and was slightly "under the weather”. Not trusting his personal assessment, Jessica called on the radio and asked me to visit the guest’s room as soon as possible. She also waited on the floor until I arrived. She told me that I should speak to him and see if I shared her observation and concern that he was very ill. I knocked on the door and immediately recognized Rich K. It happened that this guest was a regular "Road Warrior”, who travels monthly from Chicago to call on local businesses here in the Portland area. He was and still is a Platinum Elite Marriott Rewards member and stays an excess of seventy-five nights with Marriott, happily most of those happen to be with us at Sable Oaks. Jessica was absolutely correct he was very ill. I asked him if I could summon help for him and he asked if we could wait a couple of hours to see if the Gatorade helped. As it was already close to 6:30PM and selfishly not wanting to stay for two more hours, I left his room and against his wishes called the paramedics. They transported Rich to Mercy and then to Maine Medical Center Critical Care unit, where he spent six days. He was told by more than one doctor that if he had not received immediate care he may not have survived.
The significance to this story is that if Jessica had treated Rich K. as "just another guest” and showed no concern for his well-being, he may have died that night. Through her proactive actions medical assistance was summoned and Rich K. to this day remains a loyal guest. Jessica has since graduated from USM and is in her final year of law school at Suffolk University in Boston. And when she left for law school, I told her I would be honored to have her for my lawyer if the need (hopefully never) should arise.
Jessica and I both knew we did something right when we received handwritten notes from Marriott CEO Bill Marriott thanking us for the care that we showed Rich. We thank Rich for the kind correspondence he sent directly to Mr. Marriott.
Ed Palmer, General Manager - Marriott at Sable Oaks