© Le Bristol Paris

Welcome to "The Heart of Travel," a new interview series that goes behind the scenes of the hospitality business to shine a spotlight on accomplished pros who bring polished skills and a passionate will to well-loved places. Personable, whip-smart, funny and elegantly stylish, Leah Marshall — hotel manager of the award-winning, iconic Le Bristol Paris — is an extraordinary leader for nurturing the heart of travel. What are her secrets for launching a life well-lived?

Leah Marshall of Le Bristol Paris.© Roméo Balancourt / Le Bristol Paris

"Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it," wrote German poet, playwright and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the 19th century. That stirring quote aptly describes the life-force that is Leah Marshall. Born and raised in Canada, 15-year-old Marshall jumped at the opportunity for a summer job assisting the general manager of a British Columbia inn with administrative work. And then she stayed on full-time during the next two years of high school, operating the front desk from 3 to 11pm. "At the same time, I was very inspired by my high school French teacher," Marshall says. "I longed to travel to Paris." After graduation, 18-year-old Marshall moved to the City of Light — initially without a safety net, but with a determined work ethic and can-do attitude. She was hired as an au pair, taking care of a family’s children, while attending Sorbonne University, where she studied French civilization. Once graduated, she dove again into the hospitality field, taking a seven-days-per-week job from 7am until late night at a Florence, Italy hotel — with only a three-hour break on Saturdays to study at an art institute. "I did everything at that small hotel," explains Marshall. "I worked in the housekeeping department, made pasta in the kitchen, served food in the restaurant. It was exhausting, but I learned a lot." Two years later, she leapt back to Canada, joining the reservations department of Westin’s Hotel Bonaventure Montréal, climbing the career ladder and soon making hospitality history by becoming Westin’s first female hotel manager at 27 years old, relocating to Southern California in a new job at The Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. "It was a major accomplishment — for myself and for others in the business," she says. "I was one of the youngest hotel managers in the entire industry, plus a woman!"

For more than a dozen years, Southern California was her focus, running hotels and hospitality projects. Then Disney sparkled on her horizon with European opportunity, so Marshall alighted again to Paris, orchestrating its new Festival Disney (now Disney Village), an approximately 190,000-square-foot entertainment, shopping and dining extravaganza with an international staff within Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris). Lifting that huge, dazzling showcase off the ground required mighty commitment, bright ideas and people-steering skills. Marshall maneuvered among many teams of high-profile contractors, including those from architecture firms, such as Frank Gehry; culinary crews, such as Wolfgang Puck; and interior design companies, such as Morris Nathanson. After six years at Disney, Marshall excelled for a decade of management at Four Seasons George V in Paris and then was transported to Asia, working for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. Seven years ago, she returned to her heartfelt home: Paris. Here, her 4 keys for navigating a career that matters:

1  KNOW YOURSELF

"Whether one is 16 or 60 years old, understand what makes you tick and feel happy about yourself. Think carefully about your passions, your talents, your interests — and be aware about the choices you need to make to drive in the direction that you want to go. Take active steps to move toward your goals. I have been very fortunate to have found this business. It makes me feel good. I often ask myself: ‘What can I do for others?’ I love to share, to impart information, to increase knowledge and skills with hotel colleagues and with guests. I love to create positive opportunities and experiences for everyone."

2  GIVE GOOD ENERGY

"This is hard for some people to understand — but it is essential. In hospitality and many other service industries, it is important to consistently be up, to give good energy. At Le Bristol Paris, we have staff who come from all over the world. It is a melting pot. Guests, too, are often from faraway. Being on the floor, interacting with guests — one is in the service business. The best workers in our business are well-tuned into servicing people. They love to find solutions, to take care of others."

3  NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS

"A successful career is so much about building successful relationships. A successful life, too. Ties to your past can affect your future. It is a values point of view. I am happy to make people happy. Guests are like my extended family — for a day, for a week or more. This is particularly important with returning hotel guests — to pay attention to those relationships. Some workers in the hospitality business in general may talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk and follow through. Set aside your ego. Accept change. Nurture your relationships. For me, it is a privileged feeling to help others enjoy this hotel as we know it."

4  NEVER REST ON LAURELS

"Do not take anything for granted. Wake up thankful each day and think about how you can do better. Be ready to learn and grow. I do not ever count my working hours. I look at my profession as a passion. So much is mindset! It is all about kindness and creativity and working hard and making positive memories at the end of the day — for ourselves and for others."

For an inviting, more in-depth look at this historic hotel, go to Forbes’ 8 Reasons to Fall in Love With a French Treasure: Le Bristol Paris.

Le Jardin Français within Le Bristol Paris.© Roméo Balancourt / Le Bristol Paris

There are ten luxury hotels under the umbrella of the Oetker Collection: Le Bristol Paris; L’Apogée Courchevel in the French Alps; Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, Germany; Château Saint-Martin & Spa, overlooking the Mediterranean on the French Riviera; captivating Eden Rock – St. Barths in the French Caribbean; Fregate Island Private, a conservation oasis with villas in the Indian Ocean’s Seychelles off East Africa; Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, a famed resort at the tip of Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera; Antigua’s Jumby Bay Island, a heavenly hideaway in the Caribbean’s West Indies; London’s The Lanesborough, a quintessentially posh and beloved British hotel with 24-hour butler service for every guest room; and Palácio Tangará, a vibrant and stately urban hotel in São Paulo, Brazil.

Le Bristol Paris is also a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

To enjoy additional vacation tips, go to Paris Info and France Tourism.

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Welcome to “The Heart of Travel,” a new interview series that goes behind the scenes of the hospitality business to shine a spotlight on accomplished pros who bring polished skills and a passionate will to well-loved places. Personable, whip-smart, funny and elegantly stylish, Leah Marshall — hotel manager of the award-winning, iconic Le Bristol Paris — is an extraordinary leader for nurturing the heart of travel. What are her secrets for launching a life well-lived?

Leah Marshall of Le Bristol Paris.© Roméo Balancourt / Le Bristol Paris

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it,” wrote German poet, playwright and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the 19th century. That stirring quote aptly describes the life-force that is Leah Marshall. Born and raised in Canada, 15-year-old Marshall jumped at the opportunity for a summer job assisting the general manager of a British Columbia inn with administrative work. And then she stayed on full-time during the next two years of high school, operating the front desk from 3 to 11pm. “At the same time, I was very inspired by my high school French teacher,” Marshall says. “I longed to travel to Paris.” After graduation, 18-year-old Marshall moved to the City of Light — initially without a safety net, but with a determined work ethic and can-do attitude. She was hired as an au pair, taking care of a family’s children, while attending Sorbonne University, where she studied French civilization. Once graduated, she dove again into the hospitality field, taking a seven-days-per-week job from 7am until late night at a Florence, Italy hotel — with only a three-hour break on Saturdays to study at an art institute. “I did everything at that small hotel,” explains Marshall. “I worked in the housekeeping department, made pasta in the kitchen, served food in the restaurant. It was exhausting, but I learned a lot.” Two years later, she leapt back to Canada, joining the reservations department of Westin’s Hotel Bonaventure Montréal, climbing the career ladder and soon making hospitality history by becoming Westin’s first female hotel manager at 27 years old, relocating to Southern California in a new job at The Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. “It was a major accomplishment — for myself and for others in the business,” she says. “I was one of the youngest hotel managers in the entire industry, plus a woman!”

For more than a dozen years, Southern California was her focus, running hotels and hospitality projects. Then Disney sparkled on her horizon with European opportunity, so Marshall alighted again to Paris, orchestrating its new Festival Disney (now Disney Village), an approximately 190,000-square-foot entertainment, shopping and dining extravaganza with an international staff within Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris). Lifting that huge, dazzling showcase off the ground required mighty commitment, bright ideas and people-steering skills. Marshall maneuvered among many teams of high-profile contractors, including those from architecture firms, such as Frank Gehry; culinary crews, such as Wolfgang Puck; and interior design companies, such as Morris Nathanson. After six years at Disney, Marshall excelled for a decade of management at Four Seasons George V in Paris and then was transported to Asia, working for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. Seven years ago, she returned to her heartfelt home: Paris. Here, her 4 keys for navigating a career that matters:

1  KNOW YOURSELF

“Whether one is 16 or 60 years old, understand what makes you tick and feel happy about yourself. Think carefully about your passions, your talents, your interests — and be aware about the choices you need to make to drive in the direction that you want to go. Take active steps to move toward your goals. I have been very fortunate to have found this business. It makes me feel good. I often ask myself: ‘What can I do for others?’ I love to share, to impart information, to increase knowledge and skills with hotel colleagues and with guests. I love to create positive opportunities and experiences for everyone.”

2  GIVE GOOD ENERGY

“This is hard for some people to understand — but it is essential. In hospitality and many other service industries, it is important to consistently be up, to give good energy. At Le Bristol Paris, we have staff who come from all over the world. It is a melting pot. Guests, too, are often from faraway. Being on the floor, interacting with guests — one is in the service business. The best workers in our business are well-tuned into servicing people. They love to find solutions, to take care of others.”

3  NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS

“A successful career is so much about building successful relationships. A successful life, too. Ties to your past can affect your future. It is a values point of view. I am happy to make people happy. Guests are like my extended family — for a day, for a week or more. This is particularly important with returning hotel guests — to pay attention to those relationships. Some workers in the hospitality business in general may talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk and follow through. Set aside your ego. Accept change. Nurture your relationships. For me, it is a privileged feeling to help others enjoy this hotel as we know it.”

4  NEVER REST ON LAURELS

“Do not take anything for granted. Wake up thankful each day and think about how you can do better. Be ready to learn and grow. I do not ever count my working hours. I look at my profession as a passion. So much is mindset! It is all about kindness and creativity and working hard and making positive memories at the end of the day — for ourselves and for others.”

For an inviting, more in-depth look at this historic hotel, go to Forbes’ 8 Reasons to Fall in Love With a French Treasure: Le Bristol Paris.

Le Jardin Français within Le Bristol Paris.© Roméo Balancourt / Le Bristol Paris

There are ten luxury hotels under the umbrella of the Oetker Collection: Le Bristol Paris; L’Apogée Courchevel in the French Alps; Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, Germany; Château Saint-Martin & Spa, overlooking the Mediterranean on the French Riviera; captivating Eden Rock – St. Barths in the French Caribbean; Fregate Island Private, a conservation oasis with villas in the Indian Ocean’s Seychelles off East Africa; Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, a famed resort at the tip of Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera; Antigua’s Jumby Bay Island, a heavenly hideaway in the Caribbean’s West Indies; London’s The Lanesborough, a quintessentially posh and beloved British hotel with 24-hour butler service for every guest room; and Palácio Tangará, a vibrant and stately urban hotel in São Paulo, Brazil.

Le Bristol Paris is also a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

To enjoy additional vacation tips, go to Paris Info and France Tourism.