Last Fall, Todd Stacy had the fanciest War Eagle moment ever.
While on a business trip to New York City in December, Stacy, then serving as former Alabama Governor Bob Riley’s press secretary, stayed at the Setai Fifth Avenue, a 60-story luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan renowned for its customer service.
“They have a big focus on service and part of that is just being nice and greeting folks,” says Stacy, who now works as Communications Director for Alabama House Speaker (and Auburn Network president) Mike Hubbard. “We were there at the kiosk waiting to meet up with our dinner party and we started talking with someone who worked there, and I’m not sure how Auburn came up, but he said ‘I know Auburn very well. We send our staff down there to train.'”
So the next day — he wanted to see what would happen — Stacy walked into the hotel’s lobby and shouted “War Eagle”… and heard immediate echoes from three staff members.
Chances are Magda Kruzyck, the hotel’s room service assistant food and beverage manager, was one of them.
Kruzyck is one of several Setai employees to have either trained or taught in Auburn University’s Hotel and Restaurant Management Program (HRMP), which was established in 1987 as a partnership between Auburn University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science and West Paces Hotel Group.
Teaching HRMP practicum courses was part of her responsibility as banquet manager for the Hotel at Auburn University, which West Paces manages.
Started by Horst Schulze, the co-founder (and former president and COO) of The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, West Paces has helped make Auburn’s HRMP one of the most respected hospitality training programs in the world.
“It’s a great place to start a career in hospitality,” Kruzyck says. “The Hotel at Auburn University is like the root-hotel of the [West Paces Hotel Group] and can be ‘the door to the big world. Once you are there, you can get the opportunity to help out in openings or move on to [West Pace’s] other properties.”
One of those properties — the newest — is the Setai, which seems to recruit more heavily from The Plains than other West Paces hotels under the company’s Capella brand.
Hans van der Reijden, the Hotel at Auburn University’s managing director of hotel operations and educational initiatives, says at least 10 Setai employees, many of them internationals —Kruzyck is originally from Germany— have come through Auburn’s program.
“I’d say that’s a high concentration,” van der Reijden says.
And it means that an Auburn fan will likely feel a bit more at home at the Setai than oh, say, a Bama fan or an Oregon fan (just ask the green-shirted group who had to endure Auburn cheers from the formerly demure fraulein in charge of room service while watching the BCS national championship game at the hotel bar).
Van der Reijden says that participants in Auburn’s program are encouraged to soak up the spirit of the town as a way to hone their hospitality. But he says that many develop a genuine affection for the university — and for Auburn football; at the Setai’s grand opening, the staff received orange polo shirts from Hotel Manager Francois Luiggi, who chose the color as a nod to Auburn. Kruzyck calls that her first “War Eagle moment” at the hotel.
There have been many more.
“I personally have shared a lot of ‘War Eagles’ with guests, especially when we had a group of alums and professors staying here,” Kruzyk said. “There was a [football] game on during their stay, so I went and watched that game with some of our guests who I knew from my time at Auburn at the Auburn alumni bar here in New York.”
She also thinks she recalls a man shouting “War Eagle” in the lobby one time.
Todd Stacy says he was just keeping the staff on its toes.
“I just wanted to see if their Auburn training included the proper way to greet members of the Auburn family,” Stacy says. “It must have. The three of them didn’t hesitate.”
For a $10 donation to TWER (just make sure you include your address), you can turn your car into a Bramblettmobile! Or a Hot Rod, if you will… If you’ve already made a donation just for the O:MG sticker, don’t worry—you’ll get the 109 Yards sticker, too! But act fast, supplies are limited…
* Behind the scenes of the New York Heisman Tiger Walk
* Florida State fraternity pledges caught attempting unspeakable initiation rite at Auburn dorm
* Auburn restaurant celebrating Iron Bowl with takeout boxes
* Congrats Auburn fans—you survived an earthquake
* ‘One of the smartest f***ing minds in football’
* Auburn fans already applying for Iron Bowl victory vanity license plates
* In the time of “Got 13″ she was a Tiger
* The Auburn player who played for Bama… and Busey
Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Want to advertise? Spare a dollar?
Now I know where not to stay next time I’m in NYC.
Guess I know where I am stay on my next NYC Metro project, the DoubleTree in Jersey city has no idea, and even 50 cent was shot there….heh heh heh
Just thought you should know that Magda’s last name is Kruzycki, not Kruzyck. Thanks!
Mr Miroslaw Kruzycki says
I am very pleased that you are Magda and his colleagues high quality profesional – in catering and customer service. Congratulates, and I am glad that as I love his work.
Magda, you wish you successes and colleagues.
Edinburgh UK (Scotland)
Mia Dentice says
Our state is in trouble financially and he is staying at a “luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan”. Tells this teacher where the priorities are in this state.