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Photography by Robert Castro

As general manager of The Ritz-Carlton’s Members Club, Dan Callender looks after the care and comfort of members at the spa at the hotel, the Beach Club on Lido Key and the Golf Club in Lakewood Ranch.  The 64-year-old Callender, who has a background in hotel management, joined the Ritz-Carlton just five months ago, but the legendary Ritz mystique seems part of his DNA. Working with the hotel’s “ladies and gentlemen,” as the Ritz-Carlton refers to its employees, to provide what’s often regarded as the world’s best service, “perfectly aligns with my values,” he says. “I hate to even call it a job.”

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6:34 a.m. “I’m in the gym at my downtown condo. I do two or three workouts a week in the morning and about the same number at night. I also run and walk the Ringling Bridge. My new mantra is ‘I come alive at 175!’ and I’ve lost 26 pounds in five months pursuing that goal.”

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8:39 a.m. “We have weekly Guidance Meetings at the golf club with the general manager and six senior leaders. We’re talking about our ‘one resort’ philosophy—how to integrate the [staff and services of all three properties] to work seamlessly together.”

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11:15 a.m. “We’re committed to sustainable environmental practices. Golf grounds superintendent Sean O’Brien came up with the idea of creating a colony of bees. We have eight beehives—they’re cross-pollinating and producing honey now, and when we have more hives, we’ll use the honey at the club.”

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1:03 p.m. “I’m a believer in MBWA—management by walking around. Kids like to stand on this surfboard to have their picture taken at the beach club, and in examining it, I realized it wasn’t supported with a large enough base to be safe. We took it down and ordered a new surfboard on a larger base.”

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3:10 p.m. “Trent Iles, assistant food and beverage manager, and I are planning a members’ martini mixer. We try to anticipate everything from the guests’ point of view, from not encountering traffic backlogs to enjoying a ‘wow’ arrival by being personally greeted and offered a Beach Club Martini.”

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4:11 p.m. “Executive sous chef Craig Macavoy, director of club operations Richard Hai and I are reviewing upcoming menus so I can share them with our members. Chef serves such a diverse audience and creates menus for weddings, banquets, members’ events, a la carte dining and more.”

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5:24 p.m. “I’m at the hotel, greeting guests and introducing myself. We like to surprise and delight our guests, making eye contact and using their names. We have a software package called ‘Mystique’ that helps us know what they like and might need, or whether they happen to be here for a special occasion.”

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5:25 p.m. “Now I’m opening the door for our guest services representative, Maria Gutierrez. [The staff] loves to do acts of service for each other. It can get almost comical seeing us rush to see who can open doors for each other first.”

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8:05 p.m. “My wife, Teri, and I enjoying dinner at La Musica’s Sonata a Due event,  which was wonderful. We appreciate the culture and sophistication here. The theater is just as professional as in New York City and at a fraction of the cost, there’s an opera house, and we love Sarasota Orchestra.”

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This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Sarasota Magazine. Click here to subscribe. >>