Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe
- 198 State Road 592, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87506, U.S.A.
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1998
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Director of Housekeeping, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia
- Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara; Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach; Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia; The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Hotel, Spa & Casino, Puerto Rico; Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West, Texas
- San Antonio, Texas, USA
- Bachelor of Business Management, University of Texas, San Antonio
- English, Spanish
“Something just feels right about it,” says Cindy Racco of stepping into the role of General Manager at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. Actually quite a few things make Racco the perfect fit for the hotel group’s latest southwestern address: size – “I like the fact that the resort is just 65 rooms”; setting – “It’s off the beaten path, so it’s good for couples”; community – “I’m looking forward to partnering with good people throughout the area”; and, especially, location – “I’m from San Antonio, so there’s an automatic connection to the southwest for me."
Little question Racco is well prepared to lead in Santa Fe. She spent the previous seven years as Resort Manager: first in Palm Beach, then in Santa Barbara. The assignments couldn’t have been more different. “I was like a mayor in Palm Beach – shaking hands, kissing babies. I’d spend five hours a day just talking to people,” she recalls, adding that the role was a bit of a challenge for a shy Virgo like herself. “Santa Barbara required more remove, as many guests just liked to lay low and relax. Finessing was the way to go.”
With less face-time required onsite, Racco made outreach a priority in Santa Barbara, becoming actively involved in the local convention and visitors bureau, chamber of commerce, United Way chapter and more. The efforts proved invaluable in becoming comfortable with Southern California culture. “There is nothing more troubling to me than when someone asks a question about the community and I don’t know the answer.” Perhaps most important, Racco learned the value of patience out West. “When I came on in Santa Barbara the economy was headed down, so I knew wasn’t going anywhere. I patiently honed my skills so that when the next opportunity came up, I was ready.”
Integral to that effort was learning everything she could from her boss, Karen Earp, one of the first female Four Seasons GMs. The “energy” and “tone” of her time in Santa Barbara would have been different under a male general manager, says Racco. “Karen was very nurturing, going out of her way to see that I could handle the resort on my own. Once I proved myself, I just loved being handed the so-called keys to the Cadillac.”
Taking on challenges has been a hallmark of Racco’s Four Seasons career. She joined the company as an urgent hire in Philadelphia where housekeeping had faltered. The general manager told her, “Cindy, I need someone to hit it out of the park.” Stepping up to lead a “tough team that was feeling mighty low” about their score, Racco chose not to bark orders but instead let the staff know she was there to make things work. Smart move: a year after her hire, the Hotel’s housekeeping scores came back 98 out of 100 – the highest in the company. “That was so gratifying. The same individuals who had previously rated poorly were the ones that turned things around.”
Racco’s challenge in Santa Fe is immersing the staff of the rebranded resort in Four Seasons culture. That shouldn’t prove too difficult, she notes, as the company already has a solid foundation of being a partner in the community. “There are a lot of people excited to have us in Santa Fe, so there is a lot at stake in doing things right from the start. Having every employee engrossed in Four Seasons style of service will be key.”
Meanwhile, Racco already feels right at home. Raised in an outdoorsy family – “I went camping every weekend for the first 10 years of my life” – she’s thrilled by the resort’s proximity to the natural beauty that has inspired so many and is looking forward to amping up the active lifestyle she led on the cool California coast. “I suppose I won’t be paddle boarding anymore. But there’s skiing and golf, and I’m going to continue running six miles five days a week.” Provided, she adds, “I don’t melt in the heat.”