It’s the height of tourist season in South Florida, and hoteliers are putting in 15-hour work days to ensure vacationers have enough staff to check them in or bring them room service. Over at The Shelborne South Beach, Jared Galbut is meeting with his department heads and walking through the properties to talk with guests. As the managing principal of Menin Hotels, Galbut oversees daily operations of five hotels and four restaurants in Miami Beach and Chicago. Stacey, his wife, works as style director for Menin Hotels, designing employee uniforms and running the Shelborne’s Guy and Girl boutique.
The Galbuts have been married almost a year and are still working out the kinks of a complicated home and work relationship in a seasonal business that requires long work hours and staying power. They call their quest for work-life balance, “a work in progress.” ”We’ve been trying to draw the line between work and home for the last couple of months saying we are not going to bring work home,” explains Jared Galbut. ”I’ll think it’s working because we will sit at dinner in silence. But one glass of wine and it just starts pouring out.”
Nationally, the hotel and resort industry consists of about 40,000 companies that employ about 2 million people. Most of us have checked into hotels giving little thought to the lives of those who register us or make sure our stay is pleasant. But work in hotels can be demanding, hectic and rough on married life.
Because hotels are open around the clock, employees often work varying shifts and managers routinely work longer hours than scheduled, especially during peak travel times or when multiple events are scheduled.
Even more, most hoteliers are called in to work on short notice in the event of an emergency or to cover a position. Regardless of any disruption to their personal lives, hotel managers and workers must be ready to provide guests with gracious customer service at any hour.
Recently, I listened in as four couples employed in the industry talked freely about their work-life challenges at a panel discussion on Couples in Hospitality hosted by The Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association.
I heard something from these couples that rings true in many occupations: It’s a lot easier to support a partner’s work demands when you are in the same industry and understand the pressures.
As general manager of Ocean Drive’s Betsy Hotel, Jeff Lehman often feels he lives at work – late nights, back to back weekend events. “It’s kind of a ridiculous schedule,” he says. “I can’t imagine having a partner who didn’t get it.”
Fortunately, Lehman’s longtime partner, Pedro Cruz, does get it. A former hotel manager, he now owns Roots and Roots Flower & Plants, a vendor to hotels that takes clients’ calls at all hours.
“If I get a call and have to cancel plans, he understands and supports that,” Lehman says of Cruz.
The discussion made me reflect on my own situation. My husband and I talk about having a business together some day, something fun that will take us through our retirement years.
But in the back of my mind, I wonder if my 25-year marriage could survive so much togetherness. Would working together, even working in the same industry, lead to arguments and totally ruin any semblance of work-life balance?
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