The second thing you realize when you meet Armando Martinez is his seemingly unlimited abundance of energy. He’s friendly, enthusiastic, happy, genuinely interested in people and has the eagerness of a kid at a theme park. The Raven Resort in New Hope is just the place for him to immerse himself to use all of that energy.
He gets to work every morning at 7 to open up for the cleaning crew. There is plenty to tidy up in the lobby, bar, restaurant, Oak Room and around the grounds even before the guests start to check out. Or in some cases, even wake up.
Right after getting them ready, for more months than not, he heads out to clean the pool. It opened earlier than ever this year due to a warmer-than-usual April. After an hour of skimming, water-testing, balancing and preparing the water, if it’s a warm-to-steamy morning, he takes a minute to avail himself of it and take a swim.
In the meantime, the phone starts ringing. There are more vacationers, day-trippers, sunbathers and a lot more food and alcohol being consumed. Staff ramps up from around 33 regulars to 42 or more in the peak months.
“It’s funny,” Martinez said. “People like to book their weekend vacations while they are working. So we start getting phone calls at 8 a.m.”
Some calls are people who forgot their sunglasses or their credit card or apologies because they accidentally took their room key home. (“Ship it back!” he says.)
Mid-morning, he checks in with the bartenders, the lunch crew and the kitchen. The lunch specials are fleshed out and he enters them into the register. Lunches during the week are sometimes eaten at the bar, but on the weekends more than 100 people might come into the dining room.
“I keep an eye on the kitchen to make sure they are moving around to set up for the lunch crowd,” said Martinez, “and then I make sure the temperature is set for everybody when it’s a hot day so that it’s nice and comfortable in the restaurant and bar.”
Out of the frying pan, into the office
Around that same time, the cleaning crew shifts to housekeeping and he gives them prioritizations for checkouts, special requests for pillows, towels, etc., and maintenance items. The phone keeps ringing, but now there are bartenders and wait staff to help with the reservations and questions about pool hours.
The afternoon is filled with all of the manager tasks in the office. There’s the website to keep current with photos, parties, guest performers and special restaurant events. A couple hundred people will look at it every day and the site tracks where people are when they look to book a room or dinner, or even just browse the photos.
Visitors come from all over.
“The number-one place where people come from is Philadelphia,” Martinez said. “Followed by New York and Washington, D.C. For that, I was very, very surprised! And we get a lot of first-time customers, a lot.”
Afternoons are when deliveries for the bar, kitchen and everything else show up. There’s time paying bills, checking invoices and a host of other office tasks. While Martinez doesn’t check everything in and put it away — others do that, at least — he does collect all the paperwork.
“I pay the bills and put things in the computer,” he said. “I do all the accounting. I prepare documents for the owners. And I question everything.”
The necessary work is the part he likes least.
“I love numbers but I just don’t like spending a lot of time working through projections,” he said. “I would rather be out there working with people. I don’t like sitting in the office doing paperwork. I need people because they give me energy.”
During that time, he also uses a white board to track the next things on the horizon. There are parties and weddings and guest performers to keep track of and special arrangements for all of them. And in the spring, he’s already looking at events in the fall.
“We have our very first straight wedding coming up in October and we already have the menu and the settings — it’s constant communications.”
Downstairs, happy hour rolls into shift change and the evening entertainment, bringing a new slew of responsibilities. There is long-standing entertainment like Thursday’s All Male Revue, and Miss Martini Madness on alternate Mondays. There are a host of piano players, from Michael Ferrari to Dena Underwood to Russell Eiffert. There are dance parties, tea dances, pool fashion show, monthly Trans*perience weekends and more.
One of the things Martinez is most proud of is the association the resort has with FACT (Fighting AIDS Continuously Together) Bucks County. Every December for the organization’s holiday Bingo fundraiser, The Raven’s Poe Bistro buys, prepares, delivers and serves turkey dinners with trimmings to every person who bought a ticket and all of the volunteers.
But what does he like about the job most of all?
“I love meeting people,” Martinez said, “and hanging with the employees and learning. This is a family is how I see it. It’s a different approach. We have fun, respectfully though — the things we can say, being ourselves, being as gay and colorful as we are.”
During most of the week he leaves around 11 p.m., but on Fridays and Saturdays he won’t get out until 3 a.m. He said most of the time he only needs five hours of sleep.
And still, he makes time to go to the gym. And that’s the first thing you would notice about him looking across a room. He’s just over 5 feet tall and built like the man of steel. Eight years ago, he competed in Mr. Gay United States representing Rehoboth Beach.
“The gym is important,” Martinez said. “It wakes me up, it kind of puts me in a mind frame to totally disconnect from work. That’s me time. Nobody takes that away from me. When I have to be in at 7, I go to the gym at 6. I used to go in the afternoons, but now I cannot afford to step away from here.”
There are always things to plan, like New Hope Celebrates events — and that doesn’t just mean Pride, but also that high-heeled drag race and other events.
“I chair Bingo. There are meetings every week. Board meetings. Committee meetings. There are meetings for New Hope Celebrates and FACT, always a meeting somewhere.”
Centering himself like that gives him the drive and desire to go, go, go every day. But there are a lot of plusses to the job.
“It’s rewarding,” Martinez said. “You’re creating memories. You talk to people that met here. People getting married say, ‘We met here’ so many years ago or ‘We did this here’ so many years ago. That’s what fuels me to get up in the morning.” n
For more information about The Raven, visit www.theravennewhope.com.