We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Dahl and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, what is the most important factor behind your success?
This is an easy question. The number one contributor to the success of Hotel McCoy and our ability to survive Covid is the people behind the hotel. Our front desk team, each one passionate, caring and authentically friendly and they do so much more than check people in, our housekeeping team, outstanding professionals who treat each room as if someone they love is staying in it, our Facilities Manager, who is creative and knowledgeable, our Night Auditor team, who are organized and have an incredible eye for detail, our department leads, who step up and take initiative daily, and our AGM, who has this positive energy and incredible natural knack for leadership, Every person who works with us is more than a job title. They are the reason people come to the hotel, the reason why guests say they feel a special vibe and leave reviews like, “there is something magical about this place.” My co-workers are all good humans who care, in general and sincerely. I’m humbled and honored to work with the team that I do and never take for granted that each one of them is responsible for a piece of our success. We are more than people that work together, we are a collective. Pre-COVID, we did a lot of team building stuff, hikes, nights out, and staff parties, I can’t wait to get back to that. I miss it! If I can give one piece of advice to other business leaders it is this: hire good people intentionally, provide resources, implement work/life balance (especially for salaried employees), and be available but stay out of there way.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Before receiving the job of Creative Director/General Manager of Hotel McCoy, I had my own creative agency, writing creative business plans, helping brands start or reinvent themselves, creating and implementing company cultures, content writing and social media management. Prior to that I had worked for the venue side of Hotel Congress, as the Marketing Director for an organic brewery in northern California, and for a the CommunityBenefits department of a hospital. I am a writer, something that still feels weird to say, as if I have yet to earm the title, but it is my craft I am almost done with my first novel. When I was working in my previous positions, before starting my own company, I was the “assistant” to someone else. I learned a lot but it could be a bit disheartening when I wasn’t credited for my work or great ideas were overlooked. I promised myself if I ever got to the position of manger or director, and had people reporting to me, I would make sure credit went where credit is due, I would empower creative freedom at all levels of the company, I would let people shine and not let my ego or need to prove my self worthy of a seat at the table cast a shadow over other’s accomplishments. I did not grow up well off and it took me a long time to get through college because I was working full-time and paying for it out of pocket. I graduated from University of Arizona at age 27, and just when my career was taking off, I had babies, two in a row and had to take a longer than anticipated career break. I thought I had ruined my chance of reaching VP or C-suite status but I just prayed for the right opportunity and had faith. Then, I met a team of investors looking to open a hotel in Tucson and, here we are! In our first two years, Hotel McCoy has hosted so many rad events such as Black Renaissance, the Brunch Babes Tucson Body Positive Pool Party, Arizona Arts Fest, and countless pool parties, outdoor dive-in movie nights, and paint nights. I’m so proud of the fact that we went from a hotel to an integral part of Tucson’s culture and looking forward to AC (After Covid) when we can get it at again. Hotel McCoy has done well and we plan on opening a second location in 2021, and more after that. It has been far from easy, and for a long time, I had to sacrifice the idea of work life balance to get it going. I think we don’t talk about that enough when we speak of our careers. The path to success is not easy and it requires sacrifice, especially at first but, if you bring together a great team, lead without micro-managing, and you are willing to learn from mistakes, you will grow and your business will stabilize, allowing for work-life balance. I hope that any late graduates or moms who may be finding themselves finally diaper free read this and know that it is never too late to reinvent your career or reach goals. Further, to anyone hiring directors, managers, leaders- I encourage them to look beyond the resumè. There are some incredible and hard working creatives out there looking to shine and work experience is only a small part of what makes someone a great hire.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Tucson and am always excited to show it off. We have great people, great music, great weather, and great food. If I had a friend coming to town, obviously I would book them at Hotel McCoy. Not only is it one of the coolest and highest rated hotels in Tucson, it’s super fun and affordable. You get a free drink and breakfast for under $100! I’m assuming COVID has long passed when these friends come to town and the painted blue sky of Tucson is the limit. I would take them up Tumamoc, because I love hiking but am terrified of snakes and mountain lions. We would enjoy the city views and then if they wanted something more outdoorsy, I would call up local photographer Tony Aragon (@neatpicsitake) and have him take them on one of his super-secret Tucson waterfall hikes. We would eat non-stop to make sure we hit up all my favorite spots. Baked eggs at Cup Cafè, tacos at Martíns on Fourth Ave, dinner at the Parish and second dinner at Downtown Kitchen. Oh, and then dessert at Charro Vida. We would head to Congress on a Friday night, dance to El Tambo, and then make our way down Foruth Avenue, hitting all my favorite spots. Happy minute at The Buffet on Ninth street, a margarita at Che’s, then we would turn down Sixth street and send some time at Crooked Tooth Brewing Co. When we weren’t eating or drinking, we would be experiencing the beauty and magic Tucson has to offer. We would say a prayer at Mission San Xavier del Bac, light a candle at El Tiradito, pretend we were on a tropical island at Agua Caliente, and meditate at DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun. Oh, and I of course would take them to the Desert Museum and the Tucson Botanical Gardens.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Besides the people I work with every day, I credit the following people to paving my career path: David Slutes of Hotel Congress was my supervisor when I was baby-faced and barely an adult. He taught me that how you treat people- guests, artists, associates- stays with them forever. Be kind, be authentic, and always aim to deescalate when confict or the unexpected arises. Russ Bond, the recently retired (congrats) GM of JW Marriott in Tucson mentored me through my first year of running a hotel and beyond. I owe so much to him. Then there are the invesotrs of Hotel McCoy who believed in me and my wild ideas even though I was coming in from a near two year maternity leave and had never ran a hotel, and, most of all Bryan Coggins, who gently reminds me to focus on the long game. These investors give me so much creative freedom it’s been career-changing and key to Hotel McCoy’s success. Lynette Lopez is the AGM at Hotel McCoy. I can say, wholeheartedly, I would not be where I am today without her. She is the wind beneath my wings and I am fully manifesting us sharing the cover of Forbes magazine or CN Traveler when we are working the C-suite of Hotel McCoy, the hotel group, running ten to twenty hotels that represent community in every sense of the word.
Instagram: @hotelmccoy or @rebelheartpoetry
all photos courtesy of Hotel McCoy
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