Sean Sachs turns a lead for an entry-level job into longtime service
By Alison Bailin
Sean Sachs grew up in the small farming community of Wiggins, Colorado, where his mother was his sixth-grade teacher and his father was his high school principal.
“Given I didn’t want to be a farmer or teacher, my options there were extremely limited in Wiggins,” says Sachs, whose friend at the time was considering wrestling at ASU.
And while the friend ultimately chose another college, Sachs enrolled at ASU and moved to Arizona in 1994.
“To give an idea of how ‘fish out of water I felt,’ my economics freshman year class had 900 people. My hometown had about 500,” says Sachs, who would earn a marketing degree from ASU in 1998.
Then it was time for the real world.
“I knew I wanted to make Arizona—and truly Scottsdale—my home. I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,” Sachs says.
He then again was inspired by a friend, who noted he should look into the resort where she worked—The Scottsdale Plaza—for an entry-level position. In 1998, Sachs joined the Scottsdale Plaza Resort as a sales executive.
That was more than 20 years ago and he’s still there—albeit in a different role.
“The Scottsdale Plaza became more than just a home for me. It is the reason for everything truly special in my life today,” Sachs says.
First, there are the mentors.
“I was incredibly lucky to work under and learn from some of Scottsdale’s top hospitality mentors, John Dawson, Joe Forster and Mike Teed. I learned very early on what it meant to be customer-centric and be incredibly proud to work for an independent resort,” Sachs says.
Until he met these mentors, he didn’t truly understand the hotel business, its connection to the community and ability to bring people from all over the world to Arizona. Under them, he became a dedicated Arizona advocate as well as an expert in all-things meetings and events worldwide.
He now serves as senior vice president of the brand, which is still locally owned and operated.
“This is a badge of honor to our team, especially coming out of the recession. We didn’t have the backing of a big, global group to help us. We rolled up our sleeves and had to figure it out for our people, and we did so without a single furlough or layoff during even the worst of it,” Sachs says.
Second, there is the girl.
In 2005, a woman named Lauren Lotito joined the team.
“It took me nearly a year to get to go on a date with me,” Sachs says. “But when she finally agreed in 2006, she fell for me fast. And I mean it literally. On our first date, she tripped down the stairs when I came to pick her up.”
Thankfully, the rest of the date was smooth sailing, and Lotito’s feelings deepened. The two married in October 2009. They welcomed their first baby, Collin, in 2011, and their second child, Emma, in 2013. Lotito (now Sachs) still works as the senior national sales manager.
That brings us to the third reason the Scottsdale Plaza is special to Sachs.
“So, we had two actual babies, but the Plaza has become our third,” Sachs says.
He explains that over the course of several years, he and his wife were part of the team who ushered in major enhancements to the resort, most of which debuted in recent years. Just some of the $15 million in renovations included:
Every standard room getting a full makeover.
Every suite room getting new furniture, artwork and lighting, charging stations, mounted televisions, new fixtures and more.
A complete reimagining of the common areas including ballrooms, front desk, lobby, meeting spaces and restrooms.
“We also converted our gift shop to a market that serves food and drink, assorted coffees, specialty food products from the region and both crafts and gifts from local artists,” Sachs says.
Beyond that, they also upgraded all of their general dining and welcomed Drew Holowicki as executive chef in recent months, joining Food & Beverage Director Erik Forrest in upgrading menus in all dining and banquet areas and enhancing the overall guest experience.
“Erik and Drew are the experts. I’m just like the old Life cereal commercial, but instead of ‘Mikey will eat anything,’ it’s ‘Sean will eat anything,’” Sachs says.
So, what’s next for Sachs and his beloved Scottsdale Plaza?
“On November 1, we are so proud to again host the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame Gala,” Sachs says.
The event will induct five-time world boxing champion Michael Carbajal; Phoenix Suns great Tom Chambers; Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall; Olympic great Amy Van Dyken-Rouen; winningest head coach in University of Arizona football history Dick Tomey; and long-time NAU athletic leader Michael Nesbitt.
“And, we will also welcome one of the two Fiesta Bowl teams to stay at the resort in December before endeavoring on even more upgrades to the ever-evolving, always locally owned Scottsdale resort,” Sachs says. ν