- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 25, 2005

Keith Clampet is in the business of making people happy. He’s not Santa Claus. He manages hotels.

“We’re working to make sure everyone is satisfied,” said Mr. Clampet, a 30-year veteran of the hospitality business.

Mr. Clampet is the new executive vice president of hotel operations for Interstate Hotels and Resorts, a hotel-management company based in Arlington. In his new role, Mr. Clampet, 46, oversees the management of 65 full-service hotels, which include branded properties such as Marriott, Doubletree and Sheraton.

Mr. Clampet’s portfolio of hotels is owned by Meristar Hospitality Corp., a Bethesda real estate investment trust, and includes properties in major markets across the country.

For Mr. Clampet, who will relocate his wife and two children from Dallas to Northern Virginia for the job, business travel is nothing new. Since he started his hospitality career as the director of catering and convention services at the Park Suite Hotel in Denver three decades ago, Mr. Clampet has managed properties in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington.

“It’s not quite as glamorous as a lot of people think it is, but we get a chance to interact with a lot of people, with celebrities, politicians,” he said.

When he was the general manager of the 500-room Sheraton in Colorado Springs, Mr. Clampet hosted Vice President Dick Cheney.

With high-profile guests, the stakes can be high. “We’re under a lot of pressure to get it right,” Mr. Clampet said.

As executive vice president, Mr. Clampet will be in charge of driving revenue and maximizing returns. He will report to Paul Burke, president of hotel operations for Interstate.

“Keith’s 30 years of experience in hotel and resort operations in a variety of markets together with his strong leadership skills ideally qualify him for this position,” Mr. Burke said.

Mr. Clampet, who most recently was vice president of hotel operations, said business is looking good for the holidays and the new year.

“People are feeling a lot more comfortable about traveling. We’re seeing a lot of demand come back; that’s given us some pricing strength,” he said.

Despite technological innovations such as audio, Web and videoconferencing that could hurt professional travel, “Business is still going to be done face to face.”

Good people are the core of a successful hotel, Mr. Clampet said.

“At the end of the day, we’re still in the business of making people happy. It comes down to the teams of people that we have working in our hotels who determine our success,” he said.

Kara Rowland

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