Women's March: Celebrating a Month Dedicated to Spotlighting Strong Women
We’re honoring Women’s History Month by sharing conversations with some of the incredible women of 1 Hotels, highlighting their proudest achievements, biggest inspirations, and invaluable advice.
Every March, we look forward to celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (IWD), a time to reflect on all of the progress, achievements, and respect that women have fought for over the past decades and centuries.
When you realize that Women’s Day dates back to the early 1900s, when 15,000 women marched through New York City advocating for better pay, voting rights, and shorter working hours, you gain a new perspective on how times (and the celebration of IWD itself) have changed for the better. Over the decades, Women’s Day has morphed from a national celebration to an international holiday. With over 100 annual celebrations of IWD, it’s now a movement that’s recognized by governments, companies, celebrities, and leaders all over the world. In many parts of the world, women have more rights than ever before—something that we choose to celebrate often. But the truth is, the fight for equality is never over.
To celebrate IWD and honor the amazing women who help shape 1 Hotels, we sat down with a few women across our properties who hold leadership roles that many women before us have fought so hard for over the last century. We hope these conversations serve as a nice celebration of female strength—and inspiration for women and girls everywhere.
Ashley Gochnauer, General Manager of 1 Hotel San Francisco
What does IWD mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a great reminder of how far we have come in the pursuit of equality for women, and how much work is still left to do. It is an opportunity to honor the strong women that came before us, as well as do our part to help the younger generation that comes after. I am lucky enough to work with so many smart and talented women who inspire me daily. I feel a sense of responsibility to make the road ahead a little easier for them, and do everything I can to help them achieve their goals.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a General Manager? Have you held different roles in the hospitality industry?
I have spent the past 22 years in this industry, and it has truly shaped who I am as a person and how I view the world. I started my career working various guest relations roles before advancing into management. Looking back, I tried to put myself in roles and environments that would really test me, allowing me to hone my skills for guest service, problem resolution, and people management as quickly as possible. I have been a general manager for the past decade, and each hotel presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities to affect change. The journey has not been an easy one and has required hard work and sacrifice. However it is a rewarding experience to be part of a high-achieving team committed to the pursuit of excellence.
Are there any skills in particular (or maybe a female superpower) that you feel has served you well in your role as GM?
When I was young in my career, it was rare to see females in senior operating roles. While this imbalance has improved over the years, there are still far too few. For this reason, there wasn’t much of a playbook for how to conduct yourself as a female general manager. I would often receive feedback that being too nice was a weakness to overcome, and I firmly disagree with this. I believe that empathy and strength are not mutually exclusive. My motto is work hard and be nice to people, and over time, you will earn the respect and loyalty of your team.
How does working for a sustainable hotel brand differ from past roles?
I cannot overstate the importance of finding deeper meaning and purpose in what you do. It has been so refreshing to join a brand that puts just as much focus on our sustainability efforts back of house as those that are guest-facing. Once you start viewing all facets of the operation through the lens of sustainability, the possibilities are endless. Our brand mission also extends far beyond environmental causes. We prioritize giving back to our community, supporting local makers, farmers, and small businesses, many of which are women-owned. We continually strive to amplify voices in our community that share our passion for equality and our vision for the future.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman on the path to becoming a GM?
Be yourself and stay true to who you are. I truly believe that authenticity is the greatest gift we can give our teams.
Michelle Tavares, Director of Engineering at 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay
What does IWD mean to you?
We have come such a long way, and my goal is to empower women to reach higher and keep learning and growing throughout their lifetime. We need to create strong, fearless women that also understand the fine line of etiquette and humility.
What is your proudest career achievement?
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the day to day, that years go by and you don’t realize the impact you’ve made on someone. I was having dinner with friends and had a past colleague stop in the restaurant. When being introduced, this colleague introduced me as her mentor stating she’s always looked up to me. What?! I’ve reached mentor status? That one hit my heart.
Why did you choose to become an engineer?
I’ve always had a constant, instilled drive deep within to challenge myself continually. Some think I’m a bit crazy that way, which is why I try to be highly organized. I will always be a lifelong learner, and the field of engineering and renovation projects provide new opportunities to learn all the time. The constant moving and shaking of engineering keeps me on my toes.
What is it like to be an engineer for a sustainable brand? How does that influence the job?
When I was provided with the opportunity with 1 Hotels, and read into the mission, I was hooked! I was involved with a prior LEED for Operations and Management (O+M) project that was a three-year endeavor and I believe in what 1 Hotels is doing as a brand. I’m very proud to be part of a huge transformation in the hospitality industry, this is the baseline of what engineering is all about.
Which women have inspired you most in your career journey?
My inspiration and mentors have both been men in my industry. These men have always provided the best guidance in my career and were never afraid to teach. I continue to be surrounded by great men that guide, although, my number one most inspiring woman is my mom. She continues to be there for the entire family, and I am very blessed to have her support.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in engineering?
If you love to learn, can think outside the box, and love the hospitality industry, do not be afraid to get into engineering. There are amazing courses to prepare anyone for the field, and lots of different pathways you could take. Be fearless! Be smart and be humble, and always trust your gut. “Humans are the only animals that second guess their own instinct.”
Laura O’Neall, General Manager of The Osprey & Neighbors at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
What does IWD mean to you?
It is an opportunity to celebrate female accomplishments but also shed light on the inequalities that still exist, like the gender pay gap and pink tax, so that we can continue to work to correct these issues.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming the general manager of a restaurant? Have you held different roles in the hospitality industry?
I previously had a career in fashion, where I traveled extensively; however, I had reached a point where I decided to seek out other opportunities. My first hospitality job was as a host at a creative Italian restaurant in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan. From there, I continued to grow as that company expanded – busser, server, assistant manager, manager, general manager.
What do you love most about your job?
Throughout my travels, I always love the way that food (and wine!) brings people together. Hospitality is about creating both an amazing experience and a true connection. I enjoy guiding, teaching, and training our team so that we can give the best possible experience but also enjoy watching them grow both in their careers and as individuals. At 1 Hotels, and at The Osprey, we are super passionate about sustainability, where we are able to provide a luxury experience that is actually very thoughtful and rooted in sustainability but feels effortless for the guest.
Who are the most influential women in your life and why?
My mom certainly has been a big influence on me. She is a semi-retired elementary school teacher, who truly cared about her job. So many teachers like my mom stay late to grade papers, buy their own supplies, and put a lot of extra effort to enrich their students’ lives. My mom has also been very accepting of her students, who may not have felt accepted by their peers or at home. It is so touching to hear how highly they speak of her gentle influence on their lives.
My amazing group of girlfriends, who are in different careers or are stay-at-home moms, inspire me constantly. We are able to openly discuss our challenges, what works, what we could do better, and celebrate our successes!
What's the most valuable piece of advice you can pass on to anyone, especially women trying to establish their careers?
1. Hang in there and be steadfast. As a woman, people may undermine you, overtalk you, undercut you. Stay focused, and let your work and determination speak for itself!
2. It’s okay to speak up or leave the situation if someone makes you feel uncomfortable. Don’t let anyone compromise your values and self-worth.
3. Support other women! Mention their name in conversations. Grow them with you and encourage them to do the same!
Celebrate Women All Month at 1
We invite you to gather with us and celebrate women all month long through amazing programming and events at our sanctuaries. From grounding workshops to energy-boosting workouts led by top female instructors, there are so many fun and intentional ways to celebrate Women’s Month at 1 Hotels. Check out our full list of events here.