March 18, 2014 8:30 AM • Commonwealth One Federal Credit Union, 4875 Eisenhower Avenue Alexandria
March 25, 2014 8:00 AM • Alexandria Police Station, 3600 Wheeler Ave, Alexandria
April 15, 2014 8:30 AM • Commonwealth One Federal Credit Union, 4875 Eisenhower Avenue Alexandria
“I’ll really miss the camaraderie of the people who care about the West End undefined those who make the West End part of the City of Alexandria.” So spoke Mike Barber, current General Manager of the Washington Suites, an independent West End hotel that will convert to private apartments in 2014. Mike has been a WEBA member for more than 10 years and is a Past President and former Treasurer as well. He saw the value of joining WEBA years ago although he feels there are still “a lot of small businesses on the West End who don’t realize the impact that WEBA has.” He feels that Old Town and Del Ray have very willing business participants, but the West End needs to coalesce so that business owners recognize their own power in Alexandria.
Mike started his hospitality career while he was going to college. A family friend told him about a job as life guard at a local Fairfax Holiday Inn. During that summer, Mike also worked as a front desk clerk and discovered he like the business. When summer was over, he continued to work part time as a night auditor while continuing his education. In 1986 he joined his current employer, Hospitality Partners, and began a career journey that included almost “everything but the chief engineer.” His attraction to the hotel business is deep; he’s been at Washington Suites for nearly 12 years. Before coming to Washington Suites he worked with Hospitality Partners at Holiday Inn Arlington, Holiday Inn Georgetown, Holiday Inn C Street and the Crossroads Inn at Quantico; he was General Manager at two of these properties. He stated that working for Hospitality Partners has been a wonderful experienceundefinedthey’re an ethical company and really care about their employees. While many in this business hop from company to company, Mike has chosen to stay with them almost 26 years because of the quality of the company and people they employ.
Early in Mike’s career as a GM, he took part in a quality process program offered by Disney; “Hospitality Partners implemented the quality process almost form the time the company was formed.” Mike learned the secret of having fun with guests by applying the HP Service strategy - “by creating a welcoming, entertaining, informative, caring and hassle-free environment without forgetting to collect the cash.” According to Mike, his company considers guests to be the customers, employees and owners and that to be successful you need to apply the Service Strategy to all three.
Mike was awarded the Bright Ideas awardundefinedwhich included an all -expense paid week-long cruiseundefined from Holiday Inn when he instituted a kid-friendly atmosphere at one of his properties. Mike implemented a kid friendly program at the hotel to coincide with Holiday Inn’s kick off of kids eat free. Mike created a kid-friendly lemonade stand in the lobby, a check-in area for kids, movie night for kids, and special area for kids to watch cartoons during breakfast. He’s carried his innovative ideas with him. Over the past 5 summers at the Washington Suites, George Washington, in historical period costume, has visited the hotel once a week to meet, discuss history and have photos taken with the kids. The kids find this a unique and entertaining event and the adults are intrigued by the idea, too!
One of Mike’s hobbies is photography, and his office has many photos of his wife and 2 children, ages 7 and 8. He is a true Northern Virginian, born in Warrenton and now living outside of Manassas.
Mike is especially proud of his role in helping WEBA continue to grow as an organization that helps the West End of Alexandria, although his guidance as President, support as a member, and friendship as a colleague are qualities that he doesn’t mention but ones that matter to everyone who knows him. Although Mike will leave his position at the Washington Suites because of its conversion, he’ll stay in the hospitality business because that’s really where his heart is. We hope he stays in touch with WEBA wherever he goes undefined he has friends there for life