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Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Carmen Cruz is a successful and established international business leader with over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Known for her distinctive creativity, innovation and visionary approach to leadership, Carmen has been recognized as a top performer within the industry. Despite

market conditions, she has consistently achieved new records on financial performance, operational and product innovation, customer service, employee satisfaction and career development.

Carmen began her career at luxury, 5 star, 5 Diamond boutique hotels in Europe. With a unique leadership style, driven by her passion for enhancing the human experience and a very creative approach to business and hotel operations, she soon gained recognition as a leader and by age 27 she had become one of the youngest boutique hotels’ Sr. executives in Barcelona. 

Her passion and drive to become the best in her field, paired with an increasingly strong sense of purpose to understand our human condition and to inspire and impact people’s lives, made her leave Barcelona and seek further studies and experiences abroad. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Management, Carmen pursued additional business and revenue management studies at UC Berkeley and Cornell University. She also devoted her time to holistic studies in wellness and wellbeing, human evolution and human potential: from neuroscience and quantum physics, to behavioral and Soul psychology, consciousness and Spirituality. 

Following her move to the Bay Area, she joined Hilton Hotels as a Front Office Manager at the Hilton San Francisco where she broke records on service scores and employee satisfaction. She was nominated twice as a top performer for the company and later would become Director of Front Office Operations. During her 12 years tenure with the company, she managed hotels up to 2000 rooms, oversaw multiple renovations, a hotel opening from groundbreaking to grand opening and held additional key sr. executive positions in San Diego, LA and Colorado, where she won the property of the year award and increased the property ranking from #113 to #42 out of the 285 properties within the Americas. 

Returning to her boutique roots and the Bay Area in 2014 as a GM, Carmen led the multimillion dollar renovation, transition, reposition and rebranding of the upscale lifestyle boutique Hotel Zephyr. She successfully achieved a 12% rate growth and increased the hotel’s Trip Advisor ranking from #121 to #36 in less than 4 months, positioning the property within the top 15% tier in San Francisco. She was awarded recognition as “GMs to watch in 2015” by Hotel Management. 

By early 2016, Carmen became the GM at the luxury independent boutique hotel, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa. Combining her strong industry knowledge and her successful innovative business strategies, she repositioned the property within the local and international luxury market and created a strong brand identity while successfully leading a multimillion dollar renovation. She achieved 11% and 13% REVPAR growth in 2017/2018 while the SF market’s average was experiencing negative growth and, although starting to recuperate by 2018, never surpassed 5%. A rate growth of 17% (over $60) revenue growth of 40% and NOI growth of 20% were some of the remarkable financial performances achieved by her leadership. 

In January 2019, combining both of her passions, holistic living and designing extraordinary service experiences, she launched her latest creation, the “Casa Wellness Experience” pioneering the introduction of sleep fitness and “smart beds” into the hotel industry. This innovative and immersive experiential concept touched all aspects of wellness, from sleep to holistic, fitness and nutrition, merging intentional and pioneering biometrics and AI technology with a strong purpose for enhancing the human experience.

This innovative program generated an increase in ADR of $193, garnered tremendous national press coverage and was awarded with the 2019 Healthy Travel Awards as “Healthiest Amenities” by Shape magazine, bringing the property to the forefront of the tech and wellness worlds. 


By the end of 2019, with a clear intention of bringing forward a holistic visionary view to leadership, Carmen opened her own company, "Lead By Passion", an avant-garde hospitality advisory and executive leadership firm integrating business excellence and human evolution.  Additionally, as part of her commitment to the continued growth and evolution of Leadership and her passion for the role that women play in shaping its future, Carmen was a speaker at the “4th Annual Women in Leadership” event that took place in San Francisco. Today, she continues her work on this area collaborating closely with several organizations; writing, teaching and speaking about Evolutionary Leadership and the new paradigm that is upon us.

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