DIRECTOR OF CATERING AND CONFERENCE SERVICES
HOW HOTEL COLONNADE’S LEAD MEETING AND EVENTS PRO MASTERS ALL THE MAYHEM.
Our director of catering and conference services, Natalia Plasencia, has been working in events for 20+ years. Find out how she saved an event in the Bahamas from an island-wide power outage and how she delivers exactly what clients want.
You have so much experience in the industry. What are you most proud of?
There are too many highlights to mention. But, my biggest accomplishment throughout my career is working alongside the interns, admins, and managers who are now directors at their hotels.
Out of all the events you’ve managed, what was your favorite?
My favorite event of my career was also the most challenging—the Coral Gable’s 4th of July celebration at the Biltmore Hotel. I managed that event for 5 years. There were endless moving parts, including:
20,000 people in attendance
Multiple simultaneous events spread out across ballrooms, the golf course, and more
50 event team members
A full symphony orchestra
10 food trucks
Working with the city
Although it was overwhelming at times to manage an event of that scale, my team and I were always left with a HUGE sense of pride seeing so many people creating lifelong memories.
Tell us of a time when you saved the day for a client.
I worked for a hotel in one of the smaller islands of the Bahamas. Right as we were in the middle of hosting our biggest group event of the year, the entire island lost power. I was able to obtain a small generator to power the lights and music. But right before the event was set to start, we ran out of gas! There was no additional gas available on the island as everyone was running on generators. With a last minute decision, we siphoned gas from the available golf carts and we powered the generator for the duration of the party. The lights didn’t come back on the island for another week.
“We siphoned gas from the available golf carts and powered the generator for the duration of the party.”
What is the best thing about working for Hotel Colonnade?
Without a doubt—the people! Our staff is one big family. So many of our guests comment how friendly and accommodating we are. You definitely feel like home here.
What is your event superpower?
Sometimes a client doesn’t know exactly what they want. And, that’s okay! I ask all the right questions, then thoughtfully listen to discover the client’s true benchmark for success. The words they use help me determine what to focus on. It’s only through truly listening that I can deliver the flawless event they’ve been dreaming of the whole time.
“It’s only through truly listening that I can deliver the flawless event they’ve been dreaming of the whole time.”
What are your favorite pastimes?
My boyfriend and I are into all things sports. You’ll find me going to Hurricanes and Panthers games or potlucking with my huge group of friends and family. I also love being near or on the water. On a boat or on an island, with a drink in my hand—that’s my happy place.
What’s your favorite go-to spot in Coral Gables?
There are so many amazing dining and drinking spots within walking distance, it’s hard to choose! However, I have so many great memories at The Bar, the oldest bar in Coral Gables (opened in 1946). Both locals and visitors love going there. It’s common to see entire wedding parties after-partying on the weekends.
What can planners expect when they work with you?
I’ve worked both as an event planner and in hotels. I know exactly how to make the planning process as easy as possible. I anticipate what next steps are and proactively make things happen so clients don’t have to handle it on their own. For instance, instead of waiting for clients to send me their unload schedule, I can quickly put one together, then simply ask for them to confirm.
Working with me and my team is an enjoyable and seamless experience from start to finish.
“Working with me and my team is an enjoyable and seamless experience from start to finish.”