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Hotel industry stalwart McPhee finds a passion for art and sport

Kevin McPhee’s hospitality career has taken him from Bermuda to California, the Caribbean and as far away as Hawaii, and then back east to Utah. He may soon be moving again, to North Carolina.

On the island of Maui (who wouldn’t want to live there), Mr McPhee spent 14 years in the hotel industry, rising to the position of food and beverage director, with Stouffer Hotels (which became Renaissance Hotels).

The Warwick Academy and Cornell University graduate also worked in food and beverage at a 400-room resort on Kauai, and for hotels in the Westin and Hyatt chains.

Mr McPhee is currently on a new chapter in his career, after discovering a passion for art, teaching and coaching high school soccer.

His paints colourful acrylic abstracts of island-and-desert-inspired expressions, available at local galleries and his website, http://visionsbykevin.com.

“My journey that got me to Hawaii was enjoyable and my experiences there both in management and bartending gave me a more complete perspective of the industry and teaching had always been a desire, which is where my energies have taken me,” he said.

“My mom and her two sisters were great teachers and I know my mom would be proud of my current vocation.”

Mr McPhee and wife Julie, now live in St. George, Utah, a few miles from the Arizona border.

Julie is from Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Julie and I are currently considering a move from this area after four years. We have been looking at the Western North Carolina area, Asheville, and Greenville. This gets us a little closer to home.

“Utah is extremely beautiful with red rock mountain formations, and only eight miles from the Arizona border, so unlike the rest of Utah, we have very little if any snow and summers average 105 degrees, but the dry heat makes a big difference.”

He shared more of his journey with us this week.

What are you doing now career-wise?A lot! I say a lot because I am very involved in many areas. My primary job is a faculty member for University of Phoenix as an online instructor. I teach in the undergraduate school of business. I teach Food and Beverage Management in their Hospitality Management programme and Critical Thinking as a core course in the Business School. As it is a core class, I teach students from all disciplines within the business school.

I am also a substitute teacher in the school district in the area. My primary focus is Family and Consumer Science (the new Home Economics).

I am nationally certified in Family and Consumer Science with the American Association of Family and Consumer Science. I always find this a little ironic because while I was at Warwick Academy, wanting to take Home Economics, I was forbidden because in those days, “boys did shop and girls did home economics”.

The course has evolved to be more of a skills training for preparing children for the real world, especially in the area of food service, culinary arts, child development, interior design, clothing design and merchandising, and financial literacy.

I am also a soccer coach at one of the local high schools, coaching goalkeepers for both the boys’ and girls’ teams. I have been involved with youth soccer for over 16 years.

I am also a commercial fine arts painter. Acrylic paint is my medium on canvas. I also have a line of hand-painted silk scarves using dyes and they are very colourful.

And, on a part-time basis, I am a server at a café/restaurant a few nights a week as I still enjoy my social contact with the restaurant guests. I also consult in the area for restaurant operations in the area of training, design, and development.

After 40 years in the hospitality business, I feel it is in my blood and DNA, quite possibly passed down to me from my grandmother who had a guest house operation in Nassau, Bahamas for over 35 years.

In my free time, I try to play golf, do some hiking, and visit Las Vegas for shopping and entertainment. It is only 1.5 hours away!

Tell us about your career in the hotel industry.

After leaving Bermuda and completing my O-levels, I went to London and did my A-levels. It was then on to Toronto, Canada to Ryerson University to complete a three-year programme in Hospitality and Tourism Administration. Next was Cornell University where I did a Master’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, specialising in food and beverage.

I spent my holidays while in school working for the old Bermudiana Hotel and Southampton Princess.

After graduating from Cornell I was off to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago, Minneapolis, Kauai, Hawaii, Washington DC, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and then back to Hawaii, Maui this time where I spent 14 wonderful years.

During most of my travels I was in the food and beverage area and was a food and beverage director for 10 years. My first stint in Hawaii, on Kauai, I was the food and beverage director for a 400-room resort located on the beach. I have worked for Westin Hotels, Hyatt hotels, and Stouffer Hotels (which became Renaissance Hotels).

In St Thomas, I started as the food and beverage director and later became the assistant general manager.

There were a couple of times when I interviewed with Princess hotels for positions of food and beverage director at both Hamilton and Southampton properties, but the timing and negotiations did not work.

When I made my second trip to Hawaii, I took a break from the management side of the hotel business and was the head bartender at one of the busiest beach-side restaurants and bars on Maui. I was blessed to watch the sunset every day from the bar. What a beautiful location and a great job.

During this period of “remission” I discovered I had some painting talent and started coaching youth soccer. The kid within me had two venues to play; one painting and one playing soccer. What a deal!

Useful website: http://visionsbykevin.com

Teaching hospitality: Kevin McPhee

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Published September 19, 2011 at 10:16 am (Updated September 19, 2011 at 10:15 am)

Hotel industry stalwart McPhee finds a passion for art and sport

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