As general manager of The Alfond Inn at Rollins College, Jesse Martinez maintains a high standard of service to his guests. But among his proudest achievements is service to his country.
“My sense of service is due, in part, to my grandfather and two uncles each serving 35 years in the U.S. Navy,” Martinez said. “I was also able to pursue my education while serving our great nation.”
Born in San Diego, Martinez majored in criminal justice at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Community College of the Air Force in Montgomery, Alabama. He has 12 years of active service with the U.S. Air Force where he reached the rank of Master Sergeant. After his active duty, Martinez spent 10 years as a reservist.
Martinez was a law enforcement specialist at Randolph Air Force Base and led the Joint Anti-Terrorist Enforcement Team in Ankara, Turkey. He also played football and softball for the U.S. Air Force in Europe.
His service to his professional community includes active board memberships on the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, Orange County Tourist Development Council, and the Greater Orlando Sports Commission.
Here, Martinez discusses his professional path from the military to tourism and gives an update on the Alfond Inn expansion project.
What brought you to Central Florida?
A job transfer from the Adam’s Mark San Antonio hotel to the Adam’s Mark Daytona Beach as the director of security and safety.
How does your military experience overlap your current job?
My military experience provided me a foundation of great mental and physical health. It also allowed me, during my professional career, to gain and learn strong values, selfless service, loyalty, and a sense of teamwork.
Was there an “aha moment” in your life that changed your perspective and led you down your current path?
Not so much an “aha moment” but my want to serve and care for others. I had peers in the hotel business approach me to pursue the safety and security side of the industry.
What made you decide on a career in the hospitality industry over a career in law enforcement?
During the last year of my second enlistment, while preparing for the San Antonio Police Department exam, I took a job as a hotel security supervisor at the Hilton Palacio del Rio. I quickly was promoted to assistant director of security and safety and enjoyed the hospitality environment. By the end of the first year, I again was promoted to director.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Inspiring youth to pursue hospitality as a career, along with creating memorable experiences for our guests.
How is the hotel expansion going and what is the expected completion date?
It’s an exciting time for The Alfond Inn. The expansion is currently on schedule. We have three phases to our expansion/renovation project. Phase one is the new wing/side of the hotel which includes the new guestrooms, luxurious spa, gorgeous rooftop amenity deck, fitness facility with locker rooms and additional meeting space. That will be completed in April of 2023. Phase two is the complete renovation of the current guestrooms which begins this November and will be completed in June of 2023. Phase three consists of the beautiful new café with a completion date of August of 2023.
Considering your various leadership roles on so many Central Florida boards and commissions, what do you see as the region’s greatest challenge in the post pandemic economy?
Florida has been extremely fortunate as we rebound out of the pandemic. The pent-up demand allowed a strong drive-in market to flood our coasts and our region. Occupancy continues to remain high, and rates are at their highest ever. That being said, I believe as we move into 2023, we will see a leveling or even a slow-down due to a possible recession and current inflation challenges. Families will re-evaluate saving their money rather than spending on travel.
What motivates you?
Professionally, I continue to try and make a difference as an advocate for the travel & tourism industry. Personally, staying tenacious in regards to self-mastery. Never settle for mediocrity.