The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us, but for Alain Negueloua it has caused unexpected challenges. Alain started as the Vice President & General Manager of Bardessono and Hotel Yountville on March 9, 2020. One week later he was saying goodbye to staff and shutting down the two iconic Yountville hotel properties for an unknown amount of time. It was definitely not the start he had imagined for his new position in Yountville.
Alain has been in the hotel businesses for over 30 years. Originally thinking he wanted to be a chef, he soon learned he liked eating good food much more than he liked cooking good food. Starting as a part time Bellhop at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, he stayed there for 12 years working his way up the ladder and learning as he went.
When the opportunity to become Rooms Director at the Mandarian Orenital, in his home town of San Francisco, came up he jumped at the chance to return home. Eventually becoming the General Manager he was transferred to The Mark in New York City before the property was sold. At that point, he had an opportunity to transfer to Asia but his wife put her foot down. “No Asia,” she said, so they looked to return to the Bay Area.
Napa Valley has always been a special place to Alain. Being first generation Basque he had often visited the valley as a child, with his parents who said the valley reminded them of home. When the General Manager job at Meadowood was offered to him Alain and his wife jumped at the chance to live in the beautiful Napa Valley.
After six years with Meadowood, it was back to the East Coast before coming back to Napa Valley to help open Las Acobas in St. Helena. At this point in our Zoom interview we both have to stop to talk about how amazing the chips and dip and margaritas are at Acacia House, the restaurant at Las Acobas. If you have not gone, go as soon as they reopen!
Not looking to make a move, Remington came knocking with the opportunity to oversee Hotel Yountville and Bardessono. “I have always loved Yountville so I jumped at the opportunity to oversee two beautiful and unique hotels.” Bardessono and Hotel Yountville are very different properties and Alain appreciates both of them. “Bardessono has such a great community history and I want to continue to honor that. Hotel Yountville has the old world charm of a European hotel. I am looking forward to ways to have Hotel Yountville be more involved in the community.”
Starting on March 9, Alain was excited to be part of the great community in Yountville. With the shutdowns due to COVID-19 that process has been slower but he is happy to be here. “Normally I would have walked around and met everyone. I haven’t been able to do that yet but I am looking forward to when I can meet everyone in town.”
The biggest challenge with the reopening of the hotels has been keeping team members engaged and motivated with all of the new rules and regulations. “Sometimes people have the we have always done it this way mentality and that won’t work right now. Things are different but we have to continue to give exceptional service.”
As we all know, these are challenging times for all industries but especially in hospitality. Alain emphasizes how important it is that both hotels are transparent about all of the procedures they are doing to keep people safe, that they put both employees and visitors first and that they are there to support one another. “Everyone needs a little extra support right now and we are trying to give that to them”.
“Everyone needs a sense of purpose in what they do. I am happy to be back in the hotel serving our guests and helping the community get back to work.”
We invite you to visit Bardessono and Hotel Yountville, in the future, to experience the exceptional hospitality Alain and his team have to offer!