Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Rosewood CordeValle might be Northern California’s best-kept secret. The four-star hotel rests on acres of rustic countryside making it the ideal spot for those craving to get some needed rest and relaxation. Yet, whilst guests enjoy golf courses and tranquil spas at their leisure, behind the scenes there’s a buzz of activity that ensures that guests receive an unforgettable stay.
Scott Amarante, now Director of Procurement at Rosewood CordeValle, earned his stripes at the hotel. With almost 13 years’ experience at the property, he says that in essence his procurement team has one key goal: “By ordering products and services, managing inventory and more, we try to take away much of the day-to-day admin from the front of house managers’ plates. This allows them to deliver better training to staff and, most importantly, deliver a high-quality guest experience.”
Having worked at the hotel for over a decade, Amarante is all too aware of the importance of procurement. When he first started out in a food and beverage role, the hotel didn’t have a formalized procurement department. “We began to see some challenges: we were having problems with inventory and food and beverage costs,” he recalls. “There was a real need to centralize procurement and create a department. We went from nothing to a department of three and so whilst it’s been an organic development, we’re now a vital part of the company.” Whether ensuring inventory levels are accurate or overseeing spending, Amarante says that now the department has “really taken on a life of its own”. This is partly thanks to his colleague Luca Rutigliano, he adds. “He had the foresight to create this department and was really the pushing force behind it. He really helped everyone recognize the importance of procurement which was a new and unproven department at the time.”
It didn’t take the procurement department long to prove its worth. In the past, Amarante points out how the golf shop’s inventory was overinflated and unmanageable. “We completely took it over and managed what goes in and out,” he reflects. “We took an inventory that was worth around $500,000 and brought it down to $175,000 – now the business is operating beautifully.” By streamlining this function, it allowed Rosewood CordeValle to deliver a seamless guest experience. This same methodology was applied to the hotel's food and beverage offering. “The food and beverage team were finding it difficult to meet their budgeted costs on a monthly basis so by taking over those inventories and tightening up the process we made sure everything’s accounted for and streamlined. We brought everything down to a manageable, functional level. We were able to really put our footprint there while maintaining a great experience.”
Procurement may not always gain the spotlight but its influence is undeniable. “People don't realize that procurement touches every single department on the property,” Amarante adds. “Whether it’s the spa or golf or food and beverage, we touch everything. It’s been a big help. When things get tough, we can help them tighten the belt.” Yet, whilst cost-saving is a critical task for any procurement professional, Amarante says that striking a balance between value for money and quality is a “tightrope walk” he does every day. “It’s tough,” he says. “We never want to save money at the cost of the guest experience. We’re also evolving and looking at market trends to really put our best foot forward. We’re always pushing for the best of both worlds.” Being part of the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts family undoubtedly lightens this load. With 24 hotels and resorts spanning 15 countries, the Rosewood umbrella is one which is synonymous with world-class standards and a memorable guest experience, evidenced by the variety of accolades and awards it has collected over the years. This reputation has proven to be an invaluable asset.
However, for Amarante, the most important item in his toolkit are the strong relationships he has fostered with his vendors and suppliers. “Creating close, mutually-beneficial relationships with our vendors is really key to our success. How do we develop these relationships? Some of it comes down to purchase agreements, some of it comes down to exclusivity. For instance, we have a signature whiskey and tequila that’s made for us. We make them part of our family. We showcase them to our members and hotel guests.”
Whether managing the hotel’s inventories or purchase orders (POs), technology also undoubtedly plays a role, although it can be a double-edged sword, warns Amarante. “One of the paradigms of being technology-based is that having that face-to-face relationship with your vendors becomes more difficult,” he says. “This creates a challenge when you're sending POs via email, for example. You're not even having a conversation with the person when placing an order. It really forces us to go the extra mile to maintain these relationships but technology is still paramount for sure.”
Rosewood CordeValle has firmly put itself on the map as the ideal destination for any getaway and, whilst its procurement department may boast of a small team of three, it seems they’re making a lasting impression on the hotel and its guests. “Looking forward, we hope to continue to improve profitability and enhance the quality of the guest experience every day,” adds Amarante. “It might sound simple or cliché but that’s what it’s all about — it drives us every single day.”