In September 2012, hospitality industry veteran, Steven Kalczynski, was appointed the new managing director of The Townsend Hotel, bringing to his post more than 30 years of experience in domestic and international luxury property management.
A results-focused executive with a proven track record in successful operations management, Kalczynski is committed to maintaining The Townsend’s traditions of unparalleled customer service and four-star experiences throughout the property.
Prior to taking on the responsibility of managing operations for The Townsend Hotel, some of Kalczynski’s career highlights include a decade with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, where he held leadership positions as the general manager of the exclusive Ballantyne Resort & Spa in Charlotte, N.C. and the St. Regis Century Hotel in Los Angeles. As the GM of Ballantyne Resort, Kalczynski earned Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ prestigious “Tiffany Award” for highest overall quality scores in North America for all St. Regis and Luxury Collection properties.
Additionally, Kalczynski has significant international experience, having served with Peninsula Hotels in Beijing, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts in Mumbai, India and, most recently, as the general manager of the Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel in Doha, Qatar.
In January 2015, Kalczynski was appointed to his first term on the Board of Directors for the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce. He also currently serves on the Advisory Parking Committee for the City of Birmingham, which provides guidance to City Commissioners on the management of Birmingham’s Auto Parking System and parking in general in the city’s Central Business District.
After completing his undergraduate work at Northeastern University in Boston, Kalczynski earned his M.B.A. degree in international business and marketing from Rutgers University in New Jersey. A native of Shrewsbury, Mass., Kalczynski and his wife, parents to two grown children, now reside in Birmingham.
Adrienne Cousins, The Townsend Hotel’s business travel sales manager, is so good at her chosen profession, she was given an award by a company even AFTER she no longer worked there!
Cousins was part of the team that received the first-ever “CEO’s Award for Innovation” from Hyatt Hotels, even though by then she had moved on to join The Townsend team. During her tenure with Hyatt, Cousins also received two Manager of the Quarter Awards (2009 and 2011) and Manager of the Year for 2011.
With The Townsend since 2012, Cousins – who has a diverse hospitality background in everything from front desk operations to housekeeping to VIP management to guest services – is responsible for connecting with local and national businesses to establish relationships and negotiate corporate rate structures. Cousins credits her varied background as a key to her success. “Understanding the internal workings of a hotel cannot be understated when your main job duty is to attract new business.”
When asked for any other career secrets to success, Cousins shared this bit of trailblazing advice: “Break boundaries. Just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it’s not possible. This industry allows you the opportunity to continuously evolve and reinvent…take advantage.”
A resident of Troy, Mich., Cousins graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration and a specialization in Hospitality Management.
Jason Hawkins, The Townsend Hotel’s director of front office operations since January 2012, would encourage any recent graduate following in his career footsteps to never fear trying new things. A Michigan State University graduate with a degree in hospitality business, Hawkins owes his variety of professional experiences to his willingness to step outside of his comfort zone. “You have to keep an open mind,” says Hawkins. That open mind has led Hawkins to job experiences in limited service, extended stay, full-service and luxury hotels; and everything from housekeeping to operations to group arrival/departures to VIP management.
In his current role, Hawkins is responsible for management of all aspects of guest services, including front desk, reservations, bellmen, concierge and valet staff. He also is the lead point of contact for all in-house guests. Prior to joining The Townsend, Hawkins served as task force general manager for American Hospitality Management Inc., traveling the Midwest region on several assignments.
A resident of Grosse Pointe Woods, Hawkins also serves as his MSU’s graduating class liaison for the Evans Scholars.
Whether planning an intimate event for five, or a massive celebration for 5,000, Lizz Smith, one of two social catering sales managers at The Townsend Hotel, will ensure that every single last detail is attended to meticulously. “My attention to detail is above average,” notes Smith, humbly.
The 5,000-guest event is no exaggeration either, as Smith and her team spent months planning for that size crowd in conjunction with the Red Bull Race Events. On a slightly smaller scale, Smith, who joined The Townsend team in 2010, regularly works with clients to implement unforgettable weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, showers and non-profit fundraisers…all of which are infused with a bit of her creative celebration “magic.”
Prior to joining The Townsend, Smith, who boasts more than 25 years of industry experience, most recently honed her expertise as the director of catering for the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group.
In addition to lots of practical experience (“Be ready for what you don’t expect,” cautions Smith), and loads of attention to detail, Smith credits doing what she loves as the critical ingredient in her years of successful events. “If you try to fake it, it won’t work,” says Smith.
Smith, who attended Oakland County Community College, looks forward to making your next celebration at The Townsend Hotel an affair to remember…
To any students or new professionals just starting out in the hospitality industry, Stephanie Ripple would send along this dose of reality as her best career advice… “It’s not as easy as it may appear. Be ready to buckle down and work hard.” She makes sure to add, however, “Along the way, remember to have fun!”
Ripple certainly knows a thing or two about working hard. Early in her career at just age 23, while working as the convention services manager for the Embassy Suites Chicago-Downtown, Ripple managed the execution of World Wines Meeting America, a huge, international event, which required her to navigate time differences, language and cultural barriers and ever-changing event details. Although a real trial by fire, Ripple says the experience solidified for her that she had chosen the right career path.
And that path lead Ripple to The Townsend Hotel in 2010. As conference service manager, she works with all corporate clients on servicing their banquet and meeting functions and ensuring that every client enjoys the famous “Townsend Experience.”
Ripple graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor of applied arts degree in Recreation, Park and Leisure Services. In her junior year, she served as president of Alpha Sigma Tau sorority.