Captain Bobby Ross, of the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, won the North Florida Hotel and Lodging Association’s President’s Award for 2017. Here’s why:
“When a guest pulls in, you don’t know whether they are here for a funeral, or for business. One of the things I like more than anything is putting a smile on someone’s face,” Bobby says.
I asked of our city’s evolution, since his career launched in the ’70s. “The city has changed, because when I first started, there was no such thing as a black doorman in the front. You used to enter from the back door. Now, I’m at the front, the first person they see. The culture has changed, and [people] see it’s not who you are, it’s your character.”
Since I once mobbed a stretch limo, parked outside the Hyatt, to snap Dan Marino, for mom, I probed for fame names. “Celebrities come all through the year, being this is the major hotel.” Bobby has seen team owners, governors, and even presidents. When asked to name the kindest of them all, he quickly replied, “Shad Kahn, because he’s a very nice person. He doesn’t represent his money—he represents himself.”
When asked of stranger things, Bobby laughed and said, “A guest stepped out the car, and had two different types of shoes on. Another guest waited in a long line. He was late to his wedding, at the wrong hotel!”
I then gauged the inside scoop for plus-one party potential. Bobby said the place stayed quiet. “This hotel is pretty low-key. They don’t discriminate as to what crew you bring in. They won’t say, ‘well you’re rich, you’re poor, you’re black, or you’re white.’”
And that’s no lie. Once, while on a run, I slid in to use the restroom while my colleagues worked inside. Before I approached the opulent turnstile, a doorman shouted, “Ma’am!”
Busted? Nope. Obviously, he wanted to offer me a fresh towel, and a chilled water.
The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront is down-to-earth, just like the Jacksonvillians who welcome its guests. Always classy, never snobby. We are everyday people, every day.