Atlantis Casino Resort Spa’s Cheraz Ecker in her own words
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position.
Cheraz Ecker: Since 1972, Atlantis Casino Resort Spa has been an integral part of the northern Nevada community and is considered to be a premier destination in our region. As the general manager of Atlantis, my responsibility is to successfully manage day-to-day operations of the property and 1,800 staff members to create a world-class experience for our guests. The resort has grown tremendously through the years and to remain a market leader, the team consistently works hard to find new and innovative ways to enhance our property offerings.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Ecker: While attending UNLV and majoring in psychology and hotel administration, I worked in several hotel operational positions within Mirage Resorts — Golden Nugget. Shortly after starting my first position as a front desk agent, I realized that hospitality was a perfect fit — the resort environment is fast-paced, challenging and pure fun! As a hotelier, it’s a privilege and wonderful opportunity to create memorable experiences for guests visiting to celebrate special occasions or simply taking time to escape daily responsibilities.
NNBW: What do you enjoy most about working in your field?
Ecker: I greatly enjoy working closely with my team and challenging the status quo — hospitality is rapidly evolving with new technologies, social media and competition so it’s imperative to always stay focused to ensure Atlantis is consistently offering the best service experience and product in Reno.
NNBW: What is the most challenging part about your job?
Ecker: The most challenging and fulfilling part of my job is driving consistent results when it comes to guest service — service excellence doesn’t just happen, it requires a great deal of training, focus, creativity and attention to detail. The Atlantis team is genuinely dedicated to providing genuine, warm and friendly service.
NNBW: What advice would give someone who wants to get into your profession?
Ecker: If you thrive in a high-energy and fast-paced work environment that is often unpredictable, a career in hospitality could be your perfect fit. Working in this field requires a great deal of hard work, patience and strong interpersonal skills to be successful. While challenging at times, the rewards are worth the sacrifice and I’m thankful I made this career choice.
NNBW: What was the best advice anyone ever gave you either professionally or personally?
Ecker: Diversify your experiences so you have something to offer. Whenever there’s an opportunity to take on a task be the first to jump on it — it’s the best avenue for professional and personal growth. This type of attitude has helped propel me into career opportunities worldwide so I know firsthand that it works!
NNBW: Has there been someone who was especially influential in helping you establish your career or in reaching your higher goals? If so, who and how?
Ecker: I was very fortunate to have strong, and career-driven female role models growing up. My mother had a great deal of tenacity in her earlier career days when very few women held leadership positions. She overcame many obstacles by purely being disciplined to produce the absolute best results in any project she managed. I learned early on to focus on the results of my work for career advancement.
NNBW: Do you belong to any professional/networking organizations? How has membership benefitted your career?
Ecker: I am on the Board of Directors for the Nevada Hotel & Lodging Association and chair the Governmental Affairs Committee. NHLA is a growing organization of Nevada hospitality professionals and I have been working to increase membership and participation in northern Nevada so there’s stronger representation to support industry initiatives in our state. I am also a member of SKAL International, a professional organization whose goal is to promote global tourism and unite all sectors of the travel and tourism industry. Meeting with like-minded professionals from all over the world has led to some terrific friendships through the years.
NNBW: Is there any educational advancement that is essential for someone in your career field?
Ecker: To succeed in this industry at a managerial level, a combination of formal education, excellent work ethic and personality will take someone far. I do encourage continued education as well because it’s important to stay current and relevant as the industry evolves.
NNBW: How do you manage your time between the responsibilities of your profession and your personal life?
Ecker: The support of my family has made all the difference in enabling me to flourish professionally. When I’m not at work, I cherish being a mom and spending time with my kids.
NNBW: What are your hobbies? How do you spend your time away from work?
Ecker: I enjoy traveling, reading and oil painting whenever I have time. As a mom, I spend the majority of my time doing activities with my family.
NNBW: Is there a nonprofit or charitable organization that you like to donate your time to?
Ecker: I’m involved with a few organizations and have been a life-long supporter of St. Jude’s and Make a Wish Foundation.
NNBW: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Ecker: Sydney, Australia is my favorite place to vacation — my brother and his family live there and it’s just a beautiful country.
NNBW: If you had one moment in time to cherish for the rest of your life either professionally or personally what would it be and why?
Ecker: Living in Singapore is something my family and I will always cherish. The different cultures, friendships and access to travel throughout the region were an amazing and life-changing experience for all of us. We experienced so much during those years and also grew to appreciate the beauty of this nation.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like about living/working here?
Ecker: I have family in northern Nevada and I think Reno is the best kept secret in the United States! Having lived in various places, I feel like I’ve hit the lottery since moving here — it’s absolutely the best place to live, work and raise a family! The community is wonderful and I’m not surprised at all that so many businesses are making a move to Reno-Tahoe. We have a very exciting future in terms of economic growth and opportunity.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.