By Steven Solomon
About three months ago the ownership group of the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort in Chandler hired a new management company, Evolution Hospitality. With the change also came a new general manager for the facility, Bob Pottberg. He recently carved out a few minutes from his daily schedule to share his personal background, the corporate structure, what he’s working on and his vision for the future.
“We’re part of a larger organization and the general manager’s role is basically to be the cheerleader, or leader, who brings their culture to the resort,” he said, explaining that they have 17 principles. “The GM’s role is to enforce the principles.”
He listed what he said are the key principles:
“So it’s a hands-on leadership role, to help collaborate with the staff to present the resort as a premiere golf resort.”
Pottberg has 140 employees, whom he calls associates, at San Marcos Resort. He has a steering team of a half-dozen department heads who report directly to him and tell him what the associates are doing. He explained that he is responsible for three tiers; the associates, the guests and the owners.
“If one leg is not working correctly,” he said, comparing the model to a three-legged stool, “it’s not balancing. It’s a team effort, a team atmosphere.”
Toward that end, associates are assessed and what they do right is shared with other associates and what they could do better is handled by working on a road map to build on their strengths to improve.
“It’s OK to try new things. It’s OK to make a mistake,” Pottberg said he tells his associates. “That’s what makes the difference between us and other properties.”
Pottberg works for Evolution Hospitality, a 5-year-old hospitality management company based in San Clemente, California. In addition to the San Marcos Resort, Evolution manages Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Hard Rock, Carlson, InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood and independent hotels in California, Oregon, Minnesota, Hawaii, Washington and New Mexico. The San Marcos Resort has been owned for about the last three and a half years by the Interwest Capital Corp., which operates the facility as a Crowne Plaza franchise of IHG.
Pottberg previously worked as a general manager for Red Lion Hotels based in Spokane, Washington, where he spearheaded sales and operations management for their hotels in Washington, Oregon, Atlanta and Georgia. He also launched a new brand for Red Lion in Atlanta and Baltimore.
He grew up on the East Coast, but moved to Arizona as a teenager, attending Coronado High School in Scottsdale, Scottsdale Community College and then ASU. He met his wife in Arizona, and their first home together was in Chandler.
“This is kind of my second home, here,” Pottberg said, “and bringing my wife and children here, to where she grew up, is nice.”
Pottberg said that millions of dollars have been put into San Marcos Resort, built in 1912, by its current ownership group over the last few years. He said the money was well spent on the facility, including its 18-hole USGA golf course and driving range, Arizona’s first golf course.
And his goal for the future?
“We want a strong presence in the community, and to exceed our guests’ expectations.”