"Here, I love this spot,” says Geoff Gray, opening the gate to a tree-shaded secret garden at the back of the 9-acre Royal Palms Resort and Spa. “You wouldn’t know it was here unless someone showed you.” Several other favorite places later, he’s pointing to another area he loves— the courtyard of the 1920s Spanish Colonial mansion that’s at the heart of the 119-room luxe property.
It’s clear that Gray is smitten with this lushly landscaped, Mediterranean-style paradise at the base of Camelback Mountain. He’s the new general manager, joining the Phoenix resort in July, not long after Hyatt acquired the property as part of its The Unbound Collection.
A native of San Diego and the son of two music educators, Gray got the hotel bug young and studied hospitality at Cornell University. He joined Hyatt early on, working his way up at properties in San Diego; Maui; and Park City, Utah, before coming to the Royal Palms as GM at the age of 30, which likely makes him one of the youngest general managers of a major resort property in the state.
“I learn something new about this place every day,” says Gray, who usually puts in a 12-hour day. “I try to walk around each morning and evening to talk with guests and staff. I’m not one to lock myself up in my office.”
And Gray is sensitive to the fact that many locals’ eyebrows shot up when they heard that Hyatt bought the beloved property. “Hyatt acquired the resort because it is so special,” he says. “We’ll be refreshing rooms and working on menus. But no towers, no ultramodern rooms. We want to nurture the Royal Palms’ rich history.”
Classical music, blue cheese-stuffed olives (preferably in a martini), driving around to explore Scottsdale and Phoenix
Rainy days, dirty dishes, empty wine bottles
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