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Hotel industry requires a willingness to move

Rick Colangelo works with Sophia Gavrielidis, director of housekeeping at Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge. Rick Colangelo works with Sophia Gavrielidis, director of housekeeping at Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Cindy Atoji Keene
Globe Correspondent / October 16, 2011

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Hotel managers have to pay their dues, and Rick Colangelo has done just that. Not only has he cleaned rooms, worked the front desk, and served tables, Colangelo has done the multicity career shuffle, living in 11 cities during three decades in the hospitality business. “If you want to advance in this field, you need to be willing to move around,’’ said Colangelo, whose three children were born in different states.

Colangelo, now a regional director for Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group of San Francisco, also acts as general manager for one of the chain’s flagship properties, Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, a boutique property catering to the high-tech community.

“A hotel is a living and breathing building,’’ said Colangelo. “You need to work through all the kinks, whether it’s the hot water not working or helping to coordinate furnishings and equipment.’’

How does your day usually begin?

I usually start the morning with a housekeeping morning line-up. Cleanliness is the heart and soul of any hotel.

How many employees have you hired throughout the years?

Literally hundreds of people, more than I can count. From day one, I’ve had a philosophy of hiring for personality, not necessarily experience. Hospitality is not a scientific or technical industry. I look for positive people and train them in the culture of the company.

What’s your hotel horror story?

A valve blew off a main pipe that feeds water into the building. It was connected to the electrical system, so we had a double whammy. I had to close the hotel and evacuate the guests.

Where do you like to stay on the road?

At the newest, hottest, boutique lifestyle hotel that I can find. I’m not a luxury hotel guy, but instead like a place that’s unique, cool, and on the cutting edge.

What was the first hotel that you worked in?

In high school and college, I worked at a family-run inn in Hyannis. I did it all there, and got bitten by the hospitality bug.

Ever had any celebrity guests in any of your hotels?

The one I remember most is Michael Jackson in the late ’80s, when he was extremely popular. He and his entourage rented an entire floor, with his own chef, security, dancers, and others. Michael was in the presidential suite. We had to clear the adjoining room to set up a dance floor so he could practice his moves. I have also had presidents, but that is not as exciting as celebrities.

When Hotel Marlowe opened, a time capsule was put into the lobby. What did you put into the capsule?

I grew up in Everett, so I put in a Charleston Chew bar.