Newport News Marriott at City Center opened its doors to the public in 2006 and has been a popular staple in the area ever since. While some people may think of just renting a hotel room when it comes to what the Marriott offers, the Marriott team also provides top-notch banquet services for private events.
“We provide the setup of all event rooms, according to guests’ desires and functional needs. We also provide food and beverage service for every event in the hotel conference center and occasionally outside on the hotel property, or even off-site in the local area,” says Barbara Williams, banquet manager. “Our leadership team is a group of dedicated, hard-working hospitality professionals. All the leaders in the department have worked with me on this property for more than 11 years, apart from one new member who has been with us less than a year. All the leaders in the department have been promoted from within, starting as servers and setup crew, making them very effective supervisors and mentors for our service teams.”
Williams previously worked at two other hotels before making her way to the City Center Marriott in 2011 to pursue the banquet side of hospitality. While weddings may be the first hotel banquet event that comes to mind, the banquet team is equipped to serve a variety of events. “We see a lot of conventions, where groups that stay at the hotel can take over the conference center space and have events all day and all night. Sometimes local business lunches or seminars can be mixed in with the convention groups’ times,” Williams says.
Williams continues, “There’s also wedding season. Wedding planners love the rotunda for ceremonies with its beautiful staircase for bridal grand entrances. The fountain right outside is perfect for wedding photos, as well. Crescente Prince, our wedding captain, is excellent at making dreams come true. We also host quite a few local annual fundraising events for community partners, such as the YMCA, Patient Advocate Foundation and the Riverside Foundation.
“With more than 25,000 square feet of space throughout the hotel to host, multiple events can take place simultaneously, and our team must remain prepared. There truly is no typical day. The event rooms may turn for another event the same day or for the next. This can be quite challenging to plan and execute efficiently on a busy day, especially after a late event for the team, but we are dedicated and up for the challenge,” Williams says. “We currently have 23 associates, though the majority of them are part-time. I am truly blessed to have these dedicated hard-working professionals as a part of my team.”
The work culture that the team has formed is a large part of what makes them click as a cohesive unit. “Having worked together so long, we are very family-oriented; we spend a lot of time together. We ensure each team member is celebrated for accomplishments and individual birthdays. We work hard and have fun doing it together,” Williams says. “We also work closely with the culinary department. Will Kane, our executive chef, and his team create the menus and put out the amazing meals we serve. The chef can create personalized menus on request for weddings and other large events. Chef Will has been at this hotel for five years and some of his team members many more than that.”
Food is a large part of what the banquet team does, and when asked about her personal favorite meal, Williams has a ready answer: “Chef Kane’s grilled salmon is the best I’ve ever tasted. Truly, guests are constantly telling us how consistently excellent our banquet food is. Hot, on time and delicious,” the banquet manager says.
Aside from the tasty food, there are other enjoyable aspects to Williams’ job: the events and the people. “What I like most about my job is that each event and each day are different. The setup, service and people vary. This really makes every day like an adventure with the opportunity to meet people from all over the world,” she says. “I truly enjoy the teamwork and mentorship of my staff as well as the challenge to exceed the guests’ expectations each and every time.”
When it comes to memorable events Williams has worked during her time at the Marriott, she has plenty on which to reflect. “There have been so many events at this hotel I feel were amazing. The most recent event that comes to mind is the Remarkaball, the Riverside Foundation’s annual event,” Williams says. “It was the most beautiful event we have ever hosted at the hotel. This event was elegantly detailed with special lighting, drapery and a multitude of flowers and candles.”
When Williams isn’t busy working banquet events, she enjoys spending time with her family and their Australian Shepherd, Rocket, going to the beach or park.
Williams loves her work. “With the staff that I’m privileged to have on my team, as well as the excellent culinary professionals led by Chef Kane, every event is destined to be a huge success,” Williams says. “We partner with all of our guests to make their vision a reality.”
TO THE POINT:
Newport News Marriott at City Center Banquet Team
Address: 740 Town Center Dr., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Barbara Williams, banquet manager