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Transcript of interview with Don Ross by Barbara Tabach, February 15, 2017







At the time of this interview, Don Ross has devoted nearly four inspirational decades of his life in the hotel and hospitality industry. In December 1987, at the age of 29, he accepted a position with Caesars and is now the Vice President of Catering, Conventions & Events for Caesars Palace Las Vegas. Don shares personal stories that lead to his “Don-mode” of providing a high level of customer service. From experiences with his grandparents to an extraordinary upbringing in his parents’ business, Green Chimneys, in Brewster, New York, Don received a surprisingly well-rounded educational foundation. As Don discovered his natural innate ability to serve others in the hospitality industry, he thrived and has never looked back. In recent years, his leadership talents and giving nature have been honored. In 2009, he was one of three distinguished industry executives recognized for their exceptional contributions to the hospitality industry as an “Industry Executive of the Year” during UNLV Harrah College of Hotel Administration’s 5th Annual Vallen Dinner of Distinction. Over the years, he has been honored for his work with Opportunity Village, his Jewish community involvement, and his continued work with Green Chimneys among many other organizations and causes.

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[Transcript of interview with Don Ross by Barbara Tabach, February 15, 2017]. Ross, Don Interview, 2017 February 15. OH-02996. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Don Ross An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers & Editors: Barbara Tab ach, Claytee D. White n The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first- person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project. Cl ay tee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas m Preface At the time of this interview, Don Ross has devoted nearly four inspirational decades of his life in the hotel and hospitality industry. In December 1987, at the age of 29, he accepted a position with Caesars and is now the Vice President of Catering, Conventions & Events for Caesars Palace Las Vegas. Don shares personal stories that lead to his “Don-mode” of providing a high level of customer service. From experiences with his grandparents to an extraordinary upbringing in his parents’ business, Green Chimneys, in Brewster, New York, Don received a surprisingly well-rounded educational foundation. As Don discovered his natural innate ability to serve others in the hospitality industry, he thrived and has never looked back. In recent years, his leadership talents and giving nature have been honored. In 2009, he was one of three distinguished industry executives recognized for their exceptional contributions to the hospitality industry as an “Industry Executive of the Year” during UNLV Harrah College of Hotel Administration’s 5th Annual Vallen Dinner of Distinction. Over the years, he has been honored for his work with Opportunity Village, his Jewish community involvement, and his continued work with Green Chimneys among many other organizations and causes. IV Table of Contents Interview with Don Ross February 15, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface.................................................................................iv Talks about Eastern European ancestral roots; how his parents, both educators, met on a blind date; how his parents [Myra Mattes Ross and Samuel Bernard Ross, Jr.] came to open Green Chimneys School for Little Folk, a private school and family business in Brewster, New York, and where he grew up in a converted barn. Grandfather Rosenweig shortened name to Ross so he could get into medical school and stories about his father’s upbringing; serves on board of Green Chimneys; support of Newman Foundation............................................................1-5 How he feels he was destined for his career path in hotel and hospitality management; sister at Touro University; connection with his Judaism; grandfather helped build a Reform congregation and was in-house physician for New York Metropolitan Opera House. Recalls becoming a bar mitzvah; his brother David Ross; how Paul Newman became interest in Green Chimneys; father becomes board member of Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a Newman project; deciding to attend hospitality school and working in Florida...............................................5 - 12 Speaks about his first job at Hyatt Regency (Atlanta), Fountainebleau Hilton (Florida), Hilton (Dallas) and a vacation with his brother and sister in Hawaii and getting a position in Maui as manager for Don the Beachcomber, banquet business there included Paniolo party, luaus and “M.A.S.H” USO-inspired parties. Road trip with his grandmother (Mommy Mack) when he moved to Boca Raton, Florida, in mid-1980s; flying to Las Vegas in 1987 for a job interview with Caesars Palace, meetings with Mike ‘Shiny’ Dimond and Dan Reichartz...................13 - 19 Talks about starting his job at Caesars December 22,1987; New Year’s Eve business; being housed in the Roman Tower at Caesars; Circus Maximus entertainers such as Pointer Sisters, David Copperfield; meets Joyce Sherman, Destinations by Design owner and Fats Domino story; Clint Eastwood story; Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze story................................20-25 Stories about meeting Presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton; describes what he calls his “Don- mode” when working; Stevie Wonder story. Describes attending his first Seder in Las Vegas at a hotel. Story of negotiating his contract to include dry cleaning. Story of how he met his wife Mary....................................................................................26-31 Talks about becoming involved in Jewish community; friend Alan Waxier; Congregation Ner Tamid. Mentions Caesars Entertainment, Caesars Foundation, Larry Ruvo, Opportunity Village fundraising. Talks about bat mitzvahs of his daughters, Samantha and Sarah. He mentions receiving Distinguished Honors from UNLV and being acknowledged for his community work by Caesars Entertainment...................................................................32-37 v Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project UNLV University Libraries Use Agreement Name of Narrator: PM# L£) n?Q S_S Name of Interviewer: __________ We, the above named, give to the Oral History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded interview(s) initiated on 0<# - -/*7 along with typed transcripts as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. I understand that my interview will be made available to researchers and may be quoted from, published, distributed, placed on the Internet or broadcast in any medium that the Oral History Research Center and UNLV Libraries deem appropriate including future forms of electronic and digital media. There will be no compensation for any interviews. Signature of Narrator Date Signature of Interviewer Date Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, NV 89154-7010 702.895.2222 VI Today is February 15th, 2017, the day after Valentine’s Day. We’re sitting in Don Ross’ office at Caesars. This is Barbara Tabach and I'm with Don Ross. As I mentioned, I like to start with family heritage. What do you know about your ancestral roots? If you can, get me from that point to how and where your family arrived and lived. Well, my mother's [Myra Mattes Ross] side, both her father and mother came over on a boat to Ellis Island, one from Romania and one from Hungary. Grandpa was a foreman in a hat factory. He taught himself to read. My grandmother was a bookkeeper. They met in the Grand Concourse in New York. My mom was bom there, and my uncle. Grandpa moved to Danbury, Connecticut, to work in a hat factory because times were tough in New York. That's where my mom grew up. When I was bom, Grandpa already worked for my dad [Samuel Bernard Ross, Jr.]. So he had started working for my father as a night watchman at the school, and my grandmother had stopped working. They didn't have a lot of money growing up. My uncle went to college at UConn [University of Connecticut] because my grandfather thought that education was extremely important. My mom couldn't go away to school, because they didn't have that type of money. So she went to a local school, Western Connecticut State College. She met my father on a blind date, a double date that was a blind date. He was with the other lady and my mom was with some other guy, and they hit it off because my mom was a school teacher and my father was an educator who had opened a school in Brewster, New York, which was right over the border from Danbury. And that's how my parents met. I don't know a lot about my great-grandparents. I never met them. I do remember an uncle-like on Grandpa's side. We lost my grandmother...She made it to my brother's bar mitzvah. 1 So I was eleven when she passed away. Then we built a wing to our house and Grandpa moved in with us. Growing up as a kid until I went off to prep school, Grandpa lived in the house with us and whenever we'd come home Grandpa was there. That must have been pretty special. It was pretty special. As you'll learn about my father's side, we had the best of both worlds. We had Big Grandpa, which was my father's father, and he was a doctor. Then we had Little Grandpa, who was the night watchman at the school and just would be full of stories. A night out on the town with Big Grandpa would be go to the 21 Club and go to the opera, and a night out on the town with Little Grandpa would be pizza and a movie. So mostly we liked to hang with Little Grandpa. He was a little bit more fun. That appealed to a younger crowd. He was just one of these short, big belly, guys; just full of life and he'd have the best stories. He always used to talk about Big Grandpa, like, "I feel bad for the old doc; he can't walk; he's got cataracts." But, of course, Little Grandpa passed away first. Never was sick a day in his life. Spent one day in the hospital and that's when he was older. He fell asleep in his sleep. We always had fond memories. Everybody knew Pops. They either called him Little Grandpa or Pops and everybody knew him and everybody loved him. What was his name? Benjamin Mattis. He was a very proud man. He was in the American Legion and he won the war, he used to tell us. He could ruin any name, so Eggs-les-Bains; he used to talk about these places in France that he went. People loved him. He was an amazing guy. What kinds of things did you learn from your grandfathers? Just about family; about working hard; Judaism, how important that was; and doing the right 2 thing. Big Grandpa, it was a whole different story. My father's side, I didn't really know his mom too much. They got divorced, which was weird back in the day. So Grandma Phinie, as we called her—her name was Josephine—we knew her, but we'd see her a couple of times a year. Big Grandpa's family moved to New York. So he was born in New York. The name was Rosensweig, I believe. He cut it down to Ross so that he could get into medical school. He went to Columbia Medical School. The story goes that he made a deal with the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City. He was probably your first risk manager. He told the GM, "You know, I've been walking around your hotel and I see all these rips in the tile and rips in the carpet. I'd like to make a deal with you to have my doctor's office in your hotel. I'll be your house doctor and I'll also do work for the hotel and I'll keep an eye on things that people won't trip and fall and things like that." So kind of he was a pioneer, if you will, at least that's what I think. My father grew up in the Hotel Roosevelt. So my dad grew up in a hotel in Madison Avenue in New York. His grandparents lived in the Grand Concourse as well, where he spent a lot of time. My grandfather was fairly wealthy, very well-traveled. My dad went to sixth and seventh grade in Lausanne, Switzerland. He tells the story that right before the war Grandma went over to get him and they came back on the QE [Queen Elizabeth II] or something like that, one of those big ships, because he had to get out of Europe. Then he went to the Greenbrier Military Academy down in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. My grandfather was a shareholder in the Southern Pacific Railroad and they owned that beautiful five-star, five-diamond Greenbrier. My grandfather said, "Hey, if I put my kid in the military school there, I can go visit him and stay at my favorite hotel." So my dad went to Greenbrier. He went to school all the time because he was the only child. He loved animals. He lived in the city. He went to University of Virginia. He graduated at nineteen because he went to 3 summer schools. Oh, wow. What did he study? Psychology. But my dad, when he was eighteen, convinced Grandpa—he said, "I want to open up a private school." My grandfather says, "Well, what are you talking about? What do you know about it?" He said, "Well, I've been going to school my whole life. I've always went to private schools. And I want it to be on a farm because I love animals. I can do a better job." So my grandfather took a leap of faith and they went looking for land. They first looked in Westchester County, which is right outside of New York, and the prices were a little high. So they went a little bit north. It was about fifty-five miles north of New York City. They stumbled on this property; it was a hundred and something acres, a hundred and eighty acres. He paid thirty-eight thousand dollars and he bought a farm. They named the school Green Chimneys School for Little Folk. And everybody asked, "Why Green Chimneys School?" People used to ask, "Where can I go get eggs and chickens?" And they'd say, "Go to the farm with the green chimneys." Because all the barns had these green chimneys. So my dad played off of that. We lived in a barn that was a converted [to] our house; one of the first schoolhouses was that. This opened in 1947. So we're about to celebrate our seventieth year at the gala this year. My dad, at the very young age of nineteen when he was also—he went to war, but never went to Europe. He was a psychologist in one of the—I forget—down south. But used to travel home on the weekends. My grandfather's nurse at the time, who later became his wife, her name was Adele. We all called her Mommy Mack. She and my dad basically opened up this school. It was a just a small, little private school. It was like first to fifth grade at first and it was kids mostly from New York City whose parents sent them up to the farm because they wanted them to be up in the 4 farm. A lot of them were either very wealthy and did a lot of traveling or they were maybe divorced or something. It's now evolved to a forty-one-million-dollar budget. My dad is eighty-eight years old. He still works there. He's now taking a new role; instead of being the executive director as for years, he's been the head of fund development. So I call him a professional beggar for a living. That's what he does. I was just thinking today on the way in, because I'm being filmed for an introduction to my parents at the gala, and what was I going to talk about. My parents basically built a home, and the school evolved to be a home for not only me and my siblings, but for all the children over the years who have come because it's been an open-door policy. If kids couldn't go home for the weekend, they would join us. If I wanted to go sleep in the dorms, I would sleep in the dorm. So it was not only my home, but it was a lot of kids' home. My parents have done such a great job over the years. It makes you real proud. Every breath he takes is about that school. That's amazing. So I'm now on the board and I'm part of the fund developing committee, the head of that. My job is to keep it going. My kids are involved with it as well. So it's a great thing. So it's still a family business. How many students does it usually take in? We have a hundred and twelve boarders. We have a hundred and thirty day students. Kids are all displaced from the public school system, emotionally disturbed, autistic, Asperger. We've now been granted a certification to be a high school. So now we're looking at things like vocational. It's a school, but it's more than a school. Because of the farm and because of the animal assisted therapy and because of the connection, these children, a lot of the kids that go there, before they came there they couldn't cope or had no connection to other kids. You take a child and you take them up to the bam and you say, "Okay, you're going to care for this goat." They all 5 the sudden get a connection with the goat or with the llama or with the pig, with Wilbur, the big pig there. We've got llamas and camels. We have two camels. It's just unbelievable. Then you put another child to also care for that same animal and now you have a connection between these two children that they have to work together to care for this animal. It really brings the kids to where they can start relating not only to an animal but to other people. It's open for the public to walk and the kids give tours and they're very involved in 4-H. These are kids that probably never saw an animal. They grew up in New York City, a lot of these kids. Wow. So there’s not a traditional classroom— There is a school. Oh, there is a principal. My dad was involved with Newman's Own. So we have Newman Foundation [support],. .yes, there's traditional classrooms, but outside of that the kids are able to be up at the bam. Now we're going to start using the barn as vocational because the pet industry is so big that there's an opportunity to have the kids who already love working with animals and don't have a fear of animals that maybe when they get out of the school, they can go work for a vet or go work for a veterinary hospital. We also have a dining room (where) we get the kids involved in the culinary part of it. We have a maintenance. I was kind of destined for this (my work); it's kind of like running a hotel. We had everything except we didn't have a front desk. We had psychologists and psychiatrists. Everybody says, "Well, why didn't you go into that?" I said, "Well, I didn't really like that but I liked the other part of it because I used to hang out down at the Hotel Roosevelt with my grandfather and run around with the bellmen and stuff and we traveled a lot." It was just natural for me. My father being the educator, when I was eleven, "You've got to go figure out what you want to do for your life." So he took me down to the B'nai B'rith and they did all kinds of 6 evaluations and they came back that he would do really well in the hospitality business. So then I set my goals to work in hospitality—from a very young kid... People ask, "What was your first job and what did you get paid?" I say, "My first job was probably sixth grade when I had to go rake leaves and do all those type things and I got paid nothing." Then eighth grade...We ran a camp, so I didn't go to camp. I worked in the dining room and I worked in maintenance. I worked in the bam and all those type of things. So I kind of was indoctrinated very young because it was a family business. It's still very family. How many siblings did you have? I had an older brother that I lost to cancer. He died thirty years ago. I'm sorry. Then I have a younger sister [Lisa Ross] who lives here in Las Vegas and works at Touro University. She was the second employee there. My dad knew the gentleman who came out; Jay Sexter was the original person that came out from New York to open Touro. My dad knew him from Pace College in New York. He had worked with Jay over the years and my sister had just moved here from Arizona. She helped open the school and she's been there. She's the second employee that they hired. She's the longest one there. That's great. And now Shelley is running it, Shelley Berkley. Yes. That's great. So I'm trying to imagine: that was a rather unique upbringing. It was. Pros and cons. You live on this big school. It's funny. I just had a seminar. We went to a leadership summit. One of the things we were talking about—we read John Wooden's book {Wooden on Leadership: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court]. We 7 read some other books. One of the things my boss wanted us to do was list six friends from third grade and what they do and try to research it. I said, "I don't have any friends from third grade." I didn't grow up with kids where you go to middle school and then high school. Our community was this school. If the kids didn't come back to the school, you didn't have any. I didn't know anybody. I knew people from the temple, but that was it in the community because we were on our own little island. When you live at two hundred acres, you can't just jump on your bike and go across—there is no across the street. So you hung out with the kids at the school, and the only kids you knew from the community were some of the day students that came in or people from temple. So what did you do with that exercise? On holidays we were kind of there by ourselves although there was always kids that couldn't go home. It wasn't troubled kids, but there are always troubled kids. So we went horseback riding. But it was different. It certainly was a different upbringing. Then I went away to prep school. I went away to a private school in high school because my parents always put education first. It wasn't like they made a ton of money. The school was suffering in the mid-seventies and my dad had to go work for a child care agency. So he would go to work in the morning. Then he took over another school an hour away over the Tappan Zee Bridge for this Edwin Gould Foundation in New York... I remember my grandmother and my dad after dinner, sitting there trying to figure out how we're going to make payroll and all those type of things and floating our own money with the school's. Then it was that at some point it just wasn't going to work as a private school. So we gave—everybody says, "Oh, you gave all this..."—so we gave all the land to the school and became a nonprofit, but before that it was a for-profit. So it's not ours. My parents have a house 8 there, but when they're gone that house goes back to the school. So it was interesting. It was a weird upbringing, but I wouldn't have traded it for anything. You turned out okay. I turned out okay. It gave you opportunities that a lot of kids wouldn't have had. Speaking of the temple, my grandfather basically built the temple. [Pause in recording] Definitely a big part of my background is my Judaism background; although I found that when I went away to prep school and then college, you kind of get away from it a little bit. That's things that we talk about at the temple board meeting, too.. .1 know personally that I lost a connection and then you come back to it. I think a lot of it is because when you start thinking about making a family of your own and how . You never lose the heart, but you might lose the mechanics of going to shul and all those things. But temple was always a big part of our life, Friday night dinners were a big part of our life, and being Jewish was a big part because especially in New York it's just a very ethnic area. My dad started the school and my grandfather still lived in New York, but then decided he wanted to move to the school and become a country doctor. So he gave up the hotel, gave up being the doctor for the Met and the City Center. He was the head doctor for the Metropolitan Opera House. He loved opera. So he made a deal, "Hey, I can go see all the operas I want and if something happens during the show, I'm the house doctor, and the City Center." When I was thirteen, I remember we went to London for Christmas to see Beverly Sills' debut at the London Opera House, because Grandpa took us as part of the City Center, which was a place in New York that had shows. 9 There wasn't a temple in Brewster. There was a temple in Danbury where my mom went. It was Rabbi Molina. So my grandfather got a group together and they built a temple. I remember all the Torahs at the temple were donated by Grandpa because he went to Czechoslovakia and other places and brought Torahs. So it was a big part of our life . .The rabbi, who we just lost, married me, buried both of my grandparents, buried my brother, named my kids, bar mitzvahed me, bar mitzvahed my brother, bat mitzvahed my sister. He was like family—the rabbi. He and my dad were best friends. So the temple was a big deal to us. Now, what kind of temple was it? Small temple. Was it reform? Reform. My dad did Kol Nidre up until four years ago. My dad was like the elder of the temple. My mom was the head of the choir. So I remember her little pitch pipe and at night when they used to have choir practices around our dining room table, we would listen in. So that was part of our upbringing. It was cool. That's marvelous. Yes. But then you go away to prep school and you're the token Jew. Oh, you were? Well, there's other Jews, but it was a very WASP-y type of environment. We went to Loomis Chaffee; it was in Windsor, Connecticut, which is now an hour and ten minutes, but back then it seemed like forever because I went away in 71. I remember getting bar mitzvahed. My brother had his bar mitzvah at the temple, standing room only. Then his reception was in the gym. Then I had my bar mitzvah and the party was in the dining room at the school. They just built a new temple that my dad was very involved 10 in. So now they have a new temple. So the community has grown. It has grown. So you’re very accustomed to being involved in or at least watching a temple grow. Philanthropy and all that type of stuff, exactly, and wondering where the next check is going to come from and fundraising. Both Grandfather and my dad were very involved in Rotary International, both past district governors and stuff. My dad is still hawking me. Three things he still hawks me about—lima beans, spinach and joining Rotary. I said, "Listen, I'm fifty-eight. I don't like lima beans." I'll go home next week and have dinner and he'll still, "Do you want to try...?" I say, "Dad, I don't like cream spinach and I'm not trying it." And he still wants me...It's like I have all this time on my hands. He's got me involved at the temple. He's got me involved at the school. I'm the president of the country club. I said, "I'm not doing Rotary." So you don't do Rotary. Not yet. Not yet. You add that. So you go to prep school and what is the decision making about what you were going to do next? So I went to prep school. Again, you come home. It's kind of weird because you don't have friends in the community. So you drop your laundry and go off once you have a car and go down to stay with somebody from school. My brother [David Ross] was always very interested in medicine because of my grandfather. When we went to prep school, you could take a semester off during your senior year and pursue an interest. So my brother worked at the Danbury Hospital in Danbury as an intern. Then that summer he wanted to get a job. They offered him a job. He had to go get tests and 11 that's where they found that he had inflamed lymph nodes and they diagnosed him with Hodgkin's disease. He was diagnosed at the age of eighteen and couldn't go to Middlebury College freshman year because he had all kinds of operations and chemotherapy and cobalt treatment. So he stayed home, went to the school my mom had gone to as a youngster, Western Connecticut State College, and then he moved over to Middlebury his sophomore year. He went on to get a degree from Middlebury. He got a Ph.D. in pharmacology from South Carolina. Then he went to Stanford as a teaching student and an MD. He went to get his MD. He graduated from Stanford. The cancer was arrested; it came back, several times. When he graduated Stanford, he was accepted at Mass General for his residency and never made it. He went home. I was in Hawaii at the time because I was working for a hotel in Maui. My brother, right before he passed away, he was reading a magazine that Paul Newman was interested in opening a camp for terminally ill children in Connecticut. So my brother, of course, tells my dad, "You should call Paul Newman." He goes, "What am I going to call Paul Newman about?" He says, "Well, you know how to run a camp and you certainly know what it's like to have a terminally ill child." So my dad contacted Paul Newman. He ended up being the second board member of what's now the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and helped Paul open that one camp and then stayed on as a board member. And they've got like twenty now, one in the Jordan River that we visited with the temple group last summer. When they opened the camp, my parents donated money to name the doctor's office the David Alan Ross, because David never got his own doctor's office. Rabbi did Yizkor with the whole group in front of David's office last summer at the Jordan River village. That was really cool. Then when I told rabbi the story, he got with the 12 tour operator and made sure that we stopped there. I think if you asked anybody that went there, they were blown away by the camp and what they do and were so happy that rabbi included that in our trip. And that was the first time you had seen the camp? First time I had been there, yes. Yes, so it was really cool. I can't imagine. All that had to be so impactful on you; you were younger than (David), right? Yes, two years younger. So I followed my brother there senior year...Over the summers at some point I stopped working for Dad and went and worked as a sous chef at a Holiday Inn and things like that. Senior year I decided I wanted to intern at a hotel. So I went up by my parents' house. He had a friend who was a general manager and an owner of this Holiday Inn. So I worked there. Then I went off to hotel school. First I went to Ithaca. Then I decided to go to hotel school (and) so I went to Cornell. Then a bunch of my friends were down in Florida. So I transferred to Florida International and graduated from there and then went off a worked for several hotel companies before landing here in Las Vegas. My first job was at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta. Then I moved back to Florida and went to work at the Fontainebleau Hilton. Then Hilton transferred me to Dallas. Then I was recruited by a chef that I had worked with at my first job at the Hyatt over to a hotel called the Amfac, which is now the Hyatt Regency DFW. We owned twelve hotels in Hawaii. So my brother and sister and I, when he was still going to Stanford, we all went to Hawaii on vacation. When I came back from Hawaii, I went to my boss who had just gotten promoted to regional, and I said, 13 "I want to go to Maui. If I'm working twelve hours a day and six days a week, I'd rather be in Maui." About four months later the regional president for Hawaii was stopping at our hotel and interviewed me and they said, "Okay, we're going to move you to Maui, but you've got to go to Honolulu first because we're selling this hotel. We're going to have you acting as a food and beverage director and you're going to be Don the Beachcomber manager and then we'll send you to Maui." So I pack up and they ship me off and I live in the hotel. "Don the Beachcomber, Don speaking." People say, "You're Don?" I go, "Yes, come on in for dinner." They'd see this blond-haired New York Jew. They'd say, "We talked to Don." I'd say, "Well, that was me." "Oh, we thought you were Don Beach." I said, "No, I'm Don Ross." So I was the manager there. I always wanted to be, I think, a food and beverage director and then a general manager. Somewhere along the way when I was in Maui—it was in the early eighties. It was the number-one destination in the world—to go to Maui—the hotel w