I enjoy when everything is seamless and taken care of so we can all relax. I typically travel with multiple generations, so attention to the different needs of my family is important to me. I also enjoy destinations on the coast and places where I can experience culture. It’s important to me to go to places where the “locals go.”

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shaun Robinson.

Shaun Robinson is the General Manager for Hilton San Diego Bayfront. A 30+ year veteran of the industry, Robinson previously held leadership roles with Hilton including Hilton Anaheim, Hilton Scottsdale, and Beverly Hilton. Originally from Liverpool, Shaun began his career in the hospitality industry with an apprenticeship at the Edgcumbe Hotel in Cornwall, England while attending Camborne Hotel School.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I followed in my parents’ footsteps who were both in the hospitality industry — my dad was a Maître D and my mum was a bartender. Also, I saw the endless opportunities to travel the world and make this a career path versus a job.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There are so many great stories. This industry is fabulous for that very reason. Perhaps the most interesting story is when I worked at The Beverly Hilton. During the Golden Globes I was introduced to the Access Hollywood female host with the same name (including exact spelling) who was interviewing celebrities arriving on the red carpet. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting another Shaun Robinson. The following year on the Golden Globes red carpet, there were 3 Shaun Robinsons — our gracious Access Hollywood host, myself and my then 5-year-old son. To share this moment with my son was special.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Our owner at The Beverly Hilton and Hilton Scottsdale was a famous Hollywood celebrity and performer, Merv Griffin. He enjoyed saying our business to “like being on stage with beds.”

I had the pleasure of calling Merv Griffin to let him know that Hilton Scottsdale had just been awarded AAA Four Diamond award for the 1st time in history. Merv, told me he would be coming over in the next few weeks to “thank the team”. He also said, “While I’m there, let’s hold a celebration event for our guests and local customers.”

During Merv’s short flight from Beverly Hills to Scottsdale, he called to ask me to have a piano in the ballroom when addressing the team. When Merv arrived he sang a special “4 Diamond” song that he had written on the flight over.

Additionally, Merv promoted our customer event during an interview with the most prominent Arizona radio program at the time. We sold out the event the night before the celebration. I called Merv with this good news, and told him we would need to revise the lay-out of the gala, including where the stage would be set. Merv said “with the new floorplan, there’s now a jacuzzi in front of the stage which will separate the performance from the audience, what can you do about this?” We of course drained the jacuzzi the day prior and customized a wood cover so that we could place tables on top. Merv and his orchestra leader performed to a packed audience that evening. The team, guests and clients were all happy, putting our hotel firmly “on the map.”

Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Two items come to mind in the spirit of “innovative thinking” which I feel is not consistently prioritized in our industry:

  1. Fanatical commitment to remove obstacles that prevent our team members from performing at their very best. i.e. equipment, par levels, uniforms, excellent maintenance etc. This may initially negatively impact the P&L in the short term, but will undoubtedly provide long term dividends and a competitive edge.
  2. Our competitors (other brands) in the market can be our best partners when targeting group business opportunities that may be too large for just our property.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation and how do you envision this might disrupt the status quo?

Short term thinking, such as “it’s not in the budget” or “we can’t afford to do that.” Rather say “we can’t afford not to.”

As you know, COVID-19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share some examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

Customers and businesses are returning to the realization that the most effective way to do business is “face to face” and we are seeing higher group business since pre-pandemic levels.

Pristine condition and cleanliness throughout the entire travel experience will continue to be key factors that provide the competitive edge.

You are a “travel insider.” How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

I enjoy when everything is seamless and taken care of so we can all relax. I typically travel with multiple generations, so attention to the different needs of my family is important to me. I also enjoy destinations on the coast and places where I can experience culture. It’s important to me to go to places where the “locals go.”

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it?

Start with the team members who work at your property. Offer a variety of classes to both guests and team members that promote Health and Fitness, i.e. Spin, Yoga, Cardio etc. Target packages that feature Healthy Menus, Offer Healthy Cooking Classes, Spa and Health Classes etc.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. A great arrival — Recall my family checking in at the Hilton Los Cabos Resort with a refreshing margarita at the concierge desk and escorted to the suite by a special resort ambassador whose pride showed through every step of the way.
  2. Surprise and Delight with a special/unique experience — Gifting our very best guest (over 100 nights/year) a special experience with 2 days in an Aston Martin in partnership with a special classic car company.
  3. Recruiting the best people is your #1 most important job function.
  4. A culture of training and development — We promoted or transferred 76 great team members in 2023.
  5. A relentless commitment to pristine cleanliness and excellent condition. A disciplined and rigorous daily routine of walking and inspecting our properties and instilling a quality control culture throughout all areas.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve had the privilege of partnering with a number of local charities in our community every year. For example, at Hilton San Diego Bayfront, we’ve partnered with larger footprint entities such as USO San Diego and the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. We’ve also engaged with smaller local charities such as The Giving Tree at one of our local school districts and Monarch School San Diego, whose mission is to educate students impacted by homelessness.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The greatest satisfaction and joy I have had in my career is to develop and help team members by providing great opportunities in our industry. As mentioned above, we promoted or transferred 76 great team members in the year 2023.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.