JW Marriott Hotels trains associates to be ‘wine ambassadors’

BETHESDA, MARYLAND Helping to heighten the wine-tasting experience for its guests, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts has introduced a Wine Ambassador program at its 46 locations worldwide.

The JW Wine Ambassadors are a volunteer cadre of wine experts from all areas of the hotel where wine is available and who represent the highest level of wine expertise at the property. The program will combine live tastings, written materials, online educational resources and the timely sharing of tasting notes.

“Our Wine Ambassadors are passionate about wine. They love their jobs. They are eager to share their knowledge by telling stories that help personalize our guests’ wine-tasting experience and deepen their understanding of the wine being savored,” says Mitzi Gaskins, Marriott’s senior director for brand management. “Ultimately, our goal is to be thought of as a wine destination where our guests can appreciate wines at all price levels through our ambassadors’ obsession with quality and attention to the little details, whether they’re in the lobby lounge, dining in one of our restaurants or at a catered event.”

Marriott International is training JW Marriott associates on how to appropriately prepare a wine tasting and tasting mats illustrated with cues from the deductive tasting process of the Court of Master Sommeliers. Personalized wine journals have been given to all ambassadors as a tool to reflect on and record their learnings, says Lou Trope, Marriott’s vice president for restaurants and bars. Before being designated a JW Marriott Wine Ambassador, volunteers must complete two certification programs: a comprehensive approach to beverage education, including spirits and beer, and a custom online curriculum created by The Academy of Wine.

To ensure that each ambassador’s wine expertise remains current and relevant, all ambassadors participate in monthly tastings across the globe—tasting wines of different brands but of the same varietal. Monthly tasting notes are then shared with their peers throughout the JW Marriott portfolio in 19 countries on a website developed especially for this purpose.

“Through this dynamic, cross-cultural approach, our Wine Ambassadors either personally experience or have access to the evaluations of upwards of 140 different wines each month, enabling them to confidently discuss different wines with our guests,” Trope says. “They know what they are talking about.”