Rising through the hotel ranks

  • Reflecting on success: Saltus Grammar School graduate Richard Tucker moved to New York to follow his dream and his career has taken off in the hospitality industry (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Richard Tucker (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Richard Tucker (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Luxury life: The Assemblage Hotel in Park Avenue, New York (Photograph by Mikiko Kikuyama/Courtesy The Assemblage)
  • The Smyth Tribeca
  • The Refinery Hotel in New York

It’s exceptionally rare for anyone to rise through the ranks and become general manager of a luxury hotel in only six years, but Bermudian Richard Tucker has done just that.

And what makes Mr Tucker’s rapid journey to success even more remarkable is that he is only 29.

The Saltus Grammar School graduate, who was raised in Hamilton Parish, now heads the esteemed Park Avenue establishment The Assemblage in New York.

He puts his success down to a few key attributes.

Mr Tucker told The Royal Gazette: “What has worked for me has been to be selfless, team-oriented, focused and driven. I also manage my time very well.

“The most important thing for me has been about managing a good team and having their support. When your team supports you, your opportunities are endless.”

Mr Tucker has consistently achieved 90-plus per cent satisfaction rates from his staff and now, even at the pinnacle of his career, he takes time to meet all 30 members of his team face-to-face every week.

“They are your boots on the ground, they know your operation pretty much better than you do,” he explained.

Born and raised in Bermuda, Mr Tucker left the island in 2008 to study for a Liberal Arts Diploma at Oxford Brookes University in Britain. He had intended to pursue law, but soon realised it was not for him and returned home to try out the hotel industry.

He gained experience at Tucker’s Point Beach Club and in 2010 was given a full-time position as a front-desk agent at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. In 2011, he moved to Tucker’s Point Resort as assistant front desk manager, which involved overseeing the front-desk staff, concierge and bell team.

“That is what I really fell in love with and, more so, the luxury product,” he recalled.

“Rosewood was a good foundation for me in understanding what luxury service meant and shaping my management style.”

In 2013, he gained his first position as front desk manager at the Mid Ocean Club and it was at this time that personal experiences spurred him to set his sights beyond Bermuda.

His mother, who lives in the US, was diagnosed with breast cancer and while he was visiting her in Boston the marathon bombings shook the city.

“I got to see and experience all that first hand and just seeing so pain around me ... it was an ‘aha’ moment. In Bermuda, opportunities were not great for senior leadership and I decided on that trip that I wanted to move to New York.”

The rest is history as they say. He applied for 67 positions and landed himself the role of front office manager at Smyth Tribeca (now AKATribeca) in the trendy Tribeca area.

Within a year, he was offered a position by a former boss as front office manager at the five-star WestHouse Hotel, New York, and he helped her to open a hotel.

“It absolutely changed my life in terms of the connections I made and the experience I gained — the different elements of running a hotel including revenue management, sales and marketing,” he said.

After a year, he was promoted to director of front office and his experience snowballed. He was approached to move to Miami when the company expanded and successfully helped to open two more hotels and rebrand another.

He later returned to New York to The Refinery Hotel — one of Trip Advisor’s top 25 hotels — with a rooftop view of the Empire State Building. As director of rooms, he was second in charge of the hotel reporting directly to the general manager.

He continued to move upwards with stints at hotels in Miami and Seattle before deciding it was time for change.

“I had been with my company for almost six years and it was time for me to move on. I found The Assemblage, which is such a special place to work, create and to dream.”

He was put in charge of opening the Park Avenue hotel which, with extensive experience under his belt, he wrapped up on time and under budget. He was promptly rewarded with a promotion to general manager of the property at the start of this month and was also put in charge of hotel operations at the hotel’s John Street property.

Mr Tucker, who in his spare time enjoys practising kundalini yoga and delving into US and Bermudian politics, said: “Here in Bermuda there is such a focus on getting a career in the financial industry or legal field. I would say to Bermudians that there are endless opportunities within hospitality.

“My advice would be to consider what you want versus what the expectation that has been set for young Bermudians. Think outside the box and really, with hospitality, the world is your oyster.

“I would like to see Bermuda in a place where we have our people showcasing the best of who we are to visitors coming to the island in every position that we have available. That is my dream.”