Hotelier Spotlight: Westin Grand Cayman's director of event management

Last April, Natasha Anna Pereira joined the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa as director of event management, overseeing the hotel’s wedding, events and banquet team. Joining the hotel was Pereira's introduction to the hospitality industry.

Both of Pereira’s parents worked in hotels, with her father starting as a bartender and retiring as a general manager. Her mother, meanwhile, worked as a front desk agent, and Pereira grew up viewing her parents as her role models. “But having said that, I didn’t personally think I'd ever be pursuing hospitality until just about six years ago,” she said.

Communications to Hospitality

Natasha Anna Pereira
Natasha Anna Pereira (Westin Grand Cayman)

Highly organized even as a child, Pereira studied advertising at St. Andrew's College in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra. She spent several months as a PR executive at Yuvaa Entertainment, taking care of technology clients. A year later, having secured her postgraduate diploma in advertising and public relations at the K. C. College of Management Studies in Mumbai, she joined Lewis Global Communications, first as an account coordinator and then as an account executive. 

While working in communications, Pereira took an extended vacation to the Cayman Islands, visiting a brother who worked at the Westin there. While she had expected to return to India and continue her work in advertising, she spent some time observing how the hotel operated and began talking with the property’s team to get a sense of its culture. “You listen to different stories [and] you understand where people come from, what their experiences are,” she said. “For three months, I saw the team here operating and servicing such brilliant events.” Moreover, she added, their enthusiasm for the work made her consider a change in careers. “[It] made me think that perhaps this is something I could do.” 

Pereira returned in 2017 to join her brother as a pool and beach concierge at the Westin, a role that provided a crash course in hospitality: “It helped me understand the island. It helped me understand what the property has to offer. And it basically taught me how the Westin culture is different.” Three months later, she was named convention services manager, a position she held until advancing to her current role in April. 

Starting from Zero

When she was first promoted to convention services manager, she had to “start from zero,” learning as much as possible about her new responsibilities. But the role, she said, gave her a chance to network not only with convention and event clients but with multiple teams at the hotel: “You are not only creating events, you are interacting with all departments and you're the sole [person responsible for] getting information from the client and [delivering] it to your hotel,” she said. 

Working with those teams, she added, helps the event leaders “adapt, overcome and deliver” when challenges arise. “You really have so little time to do so much and consistently deliver,” she said. “It all narrows down to fast communication and just being creative. At the same time, when you have 50 people behind the scenes, it's about how those 50 people get the message at the same time.” For example, outdoor events are popular at the resort given its Caribbean location, but the property is so large that one end can be rainy while the other is in sunlight. Al fresco functions often have bonfires, grilling stations or tiki torches as a "wow factor," but in the case of rain, the team looks to bring similar “wow factors” indoors, hosting rum tastings or different kinds of cooking stations or organizing a photo booth. “Make it something more interesting so that people really don't feel bad missing out on outdoor events,” Pereira said.

She called hospitality “a very stressful job,” but emphasized that it’s “the good kind of stress—the one where it makes me want to wake up every morning and come and deal with it and go back home satisfied.”

Natasha Anna Pereira's

Biggest Challenge

When Pereira started in her position, she found herself short-staffed. “A few of my team members had to depart because of their personal situations,” she recalled. She had to build a new team and develop new ways of communicating what each event required to them.


Building new ways of working together helped Pereira better understand how a team communicates together—“letting my team members know that this is what I'm facing, a challenge, and [this is] how they're going to help me navigate through.” 


“When you interact with the people who are helping you deliver things, you’ve got to smile. You’ve got to know what you're doing, and you’ve got to keep that confidence up.” 

3 Keys to Success

Keep a pair of flip flops under your desk: “You want to succeed, you first make yourself feel comfortable in the attire you're in, so you’ll always be ready to run [and] you’ll always be ready to help.” 

Cry for two minutes: “When you're sad and you feel like you can't go through it, you break down and you cry for two minutes. And that's going to bring you up for the rest of the day. But you do not give up regardless of anything.” 

Have empathy for your team members: “The absolute secret to success is building that team and building that faith in your team members to know that you're going to succeed. My favorite quote is ‘One dream, one team.’ Without that, there's absolutely nothing.”