Article by Matt Ward
Litchfield Park, Arizona
Katy Powers is Managing Director and General Manager of The Wigwam and leads all on-property operations and ensure guests of the storied resort enjoy a memorable stay with reliable AAA Four-Diamond service. Powers has played a crucial role in the success of The Wigwam over the years, originally joining the property in 2013 as Director of Food and Beverage and returning to the historic Southwestern resort in July 2019 after two years spent gaining additional industry experience and wisdom. She is a big supporter of Arizona sports teams, including the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Coyotes and Suns, and a proud mother of two children, son, Ted, and daughter, Alanna, who both graduated from Arizona universities.
THE POWERS STORY —
The Wigwam has been near and dear to my heart since early on in my career. I originally joined the property in 2013 as Director of Food and Beverage. After two successful years of leading the dining outlets, I was promoted to Resort Manager and took on responsibilities including full management of the property. I departed in 2017 to take on General Manager roles in Salt Lake City and Seattle. I was thrilled to return ‘home’ to The Wigwam earlier this year to lead the team at the resort. I have many fond memories of my time here as Resort Manager and it was always a goal of mine to return to manage the beautiful resort. Since returning, I’ve loved working closely with the property team to maintain The Wigwam’s distinction among West Valley residents and visitors as a premier resort where lasting memories are made.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
My driving passion is my family. I’t important to me to maintain a balance between being successful, providing a positive and uplifting environment for our employees and guests each day, and finding time to enjoy my family.
The Wigwam celebrates its 90th anniversary this year — what separates the resort from your competition?
What separates The Wigwam from other resorts in the region is our rich history deeply rooted in the Litchfield Park community. The resort has become one of the region’s most iconic, quintessential Southwestern-style retreats in the 90 years since opening its doors, and part of what got us there is our wonderful sense of place and dedication to our guests.
Who is your customer and where do they generally hail from?
Our customer demographic varies with the seasons. During the summer we get a lot of locals who come to The Wigwam for staycations, whereas in the spring we have a lot of spring training travelers. Year-round we host a lot of large groups and guests from drive market such as California, Colorado, Washington and Texas.
How active of a role do you play in engaging daily customer interaction?
I try to interact with the guests as much as possible – this allows me to understand the resort experience through the eyes of our guests.
Are there differences in how Baby Boomers and Millennials plan their activities when coming to the resort?
We’ve found that Baby Boomer tend to do more extensive planning for all the details of their trip and prefer to visit when less busy. Millennials plan their stays around experiences and local events around the resort. They also tend to go with the flow more and be more flexible with their itineraries.
Customer service is routinely touted by those in the resort category. Define the term and the approach followed at The Wigwam?
Customer service is a top priority at The Wigwam. We make it a point to ensure that all staff connect with guests on an emotional level, not a transactional one. Our employees are incredibly dedicated to creating an exceptional customer experience and put their passion and excitement for the resort into everything they do.
How difficult is it in finding the right personnel to work at the facility given today’s tight job market?
Finding the right personnel has become increasingly difficult – we look for the work qualifications and the right personality fit to best work within The Wigwam team.
How important is the golf product provided at the resort and what steps have been taken in recent years to enhance the overall experience?
As Arizona’s only 54-hole golf resort, golf is extremely important to the vitality of The Wigwam. Both our Gold and Blue Courses were renovated in 2015 and 2016 with the intention of putting the polish back on each course. Recently, we’ve focused on renovating the golf shop and enhancing practice facilities. In a competitive golf market such as Phoenix, it is important to continually be improving the product. We’re fortunate to have an ownership group in JDM Partners that believes in upgrading and investing in both the golf and resort operations.
Biggest challenges facing the Wigwam — short and long term is what?
The Wigwam is always looking for ways to adapt to the needs of the modern-day travel while remaining true to our roots and our identity as a historic property. For example, we’ve introduced a texting service to provide guests with an accessible way to ask questions and request services. We also have an app with wayfinding and info on happenings at the resort.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
Throughout my career I’ve continuously been reminded by my peers to value honesty and integrity above all else, as these are qualities that are most significant to being a leader.”
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Photo credit: Courtesy The Wigwam