Michael Smith, General Manager of the Hyatt Regency in Downtown New Orleans, Has Some Stories to Tell — Michael O’Keith Smith

Michael O’Keith Smith is a positive change maker and a charismatic community leader in the hospitality and tourism industry. For over four decades, he has held progressive leadership positions with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and is devoted to seeking the collective good.

Hyatt Regency in downtown New Orleans was one of the many hotels where government officials and emergency personnel congregated to manage the response to Hurricane Katrina. A 2006 article describes how the Hyatt Regency in New dealt with hurricane Orleans under the responsibility of Michael.

Below are some excerpts from the article -

“These guys at the Hyatt are incredible,” said just-freed Ron Forman … “They’re doing everything humanly possible to help the people here.”

“The mayor, police chief and fire chief are all staying here….They’re all general manager Michael Smith’s responsibility.

“Smith got it. He found cash …. to go someplace safe to all employees … and he scrounged up the crowbar to free the zoo director.

“Smith had 3,800 people holed up in the 1,200-room hotel during the storm, including 150 stranded tourists and hotel employees and their families.

“Smith soon had to deal with a new problem”

“I look around the hotel and see feces and urine and trash, and the place smells,” Smith said. “In my wildest imagination I would never have imagined this. I’m numb. It’s like a war zone.”

“Hyatt officials in Atlanta and Houston drove truckloads of supplies in …, getting police escorts … Hyatt’s executive assistant manager for food and beverage … set up trash containers in the hallways.”

“The hotel, all things considered, has held up remarkably well,” said Rod West.

“They’ve really done a phenomenal job here,” he said. “They’re getting us what we need, under the circumstances.”

“Smith plans to continue doing that for months if West and the others need it.

“I’m here as long as the city needs me, “he said.




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