31 Questions for… Leon Goldberg, New York Marriott Marquis
The first time I met Leon Goldberg, I knew we’d get along splendidly. He caught me ogling the 4,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed fitness center overlooking Times Square at New York Marriott Marquis, and we quickly discovered our mutual passion for staying fit on the road. (He, sounding so much more eloquent than I, discussing treadmills and weight machines in his English accent.) He also had us in stitches when we brought up pets, regaling us with tales of his family’s beloved rescue, Pumpkin, who—although he’s a canine, not a feline—seems to have at least nine lives.
Not only is Mr. Goldberg an athlete and an animal lover, he’s also incredibly brilliant at his job, which is overseeing all sales at the Marquis as well as the Sheraton New York Times Square six blocks down the street. The properties combined enjoy a 90-percent occupancy rate year round—a number Goldberg doesn’t throw around to boast, but that proves location, personalized service and a leader who sets a strong example truly go a long way toward creating return guests.
As I came to discover in a recent interview with Goldberg, he’s also a family man—and, to his wife, even a bit of a romantic. I’m planning to borrow his tip for kicking jet lag (and maybe last night’s dessert) to the curb: “I always jog in a new city to get my bearings on the first morning,” he says.
Must-have hotel amenity?
Healthy snacks and water
In-flight reading material?
The New York Times
Any pets? If so, how are they cared for when you’re away?
Pumpkin (dog), two cats, a fish; usually neighbors or family
What travel souvenir do you collect?
Anything logoed for the kids
What was the last place you traveled that surprised you?
Tokyo. It was unbelievably fantastic. It was so friendly, had fantastic food and was so clean, you could eat off the street.
Favorite travel companion?
Out-of-office: Yes or no?
Yes; I put it on but I’m very accessible
What suitcase do you use?
Usually carry-on; Coach brand
Uber or Lyft?
What is your first travel experience you remember?
Going to Mauritius just off the coast of South Africa when I was about 10 years old
Favorite travel snack?
On-the-go wellness hacks?
Work out every morning, either in a gym or in your room. Stay on the local schedule.
Biggest pain points of traveling?
Being away from family
Biggest fear relating to travel?
Missing out on things at home, like a soccer game or something with the kids; just not being present
Best spontaneous travel experience?
Paris for a weekend. My wife and I booked the tickets a day before.
Weirdest item in your carry-on?
Patellar straps for running
One state you haven’t been to?
One way travel has inspired the way you cook/eat?
I love trying new foods, so when I travel, I make a point of going to a local place that’s not touristy and eating with a local person. I’m very adventurous in eating, whether it’s street food or haute cuisine. I’ll try anything.
Travel lesson learned the hard way?
[Be careful about] eating street food!
How do you stay informed about travel trends?
Tried-and-true jet lag remedy?
Stick to the local time zone and stay awake to help your body adjust. And drink a lot of water. I always carry Emergen-C with me and take at least two a day when I travel.
Westchester [County Airport, New York] is very nice, as it’s close to home and so easy.
How do you spend wait times when traveling?
Catching up on millions of emails
Travel gadgets or products you can’t live without?
Typical travel uniform?
I like to dress comfortable yet professional. I usually wear khakis and comfortable shoes.
First thing you do returning home after a long trip?
I’m maniacal about unpacking and doing laundry right away.
Plan every detail or let it happen as it may?
Plan every detail.
One thing you miss most about your own home when you’re away?
An interesting person you’ve met during travel?
Nelson Mandela—I got to meet him twice.