I couldn't believe it. I sat overlooking the Caribbean Sea on my first night, "Is this really my life?"

It's 2008, the financial crisis is in full effect. This devastating time has taken our lively hoods along with so many others. We couldn’t have been in two more effected industries. Brian worked in Commercial Real Estate. I worked in Finance.

The timing could not have been worse. Coincidentally, both of our mentors decided to open their own companies. I would have followed my mentor anywhere. Same for Brian.

Brian was always on straight commission. My pay structure was a draw. Even if I didn’t sell any products I’d at least have a paycheck to count on.

Not anymore.

We would both be on straight commission. Having been #1 in client acquisition my first two years in the business, what could possibly go wrong?

Did I mention we just bought our first house?

Cocktail for disaster.

It took everything in me not to pound my fists on my desk. Over and over. Another failed meeting. I couldn’t get a new client for the life of me. I couldn’t get my existing clients to make any new moves. I was only 24. Another contributing factor that got in my head. Who would want to do business with me in times like these?

I was helpless. We were helpless.

We found ourselves working multiple jobs, getting roommates and struggling to get by. It was horrible. We want to kill our roommates. Other times we wanted to kill each other.

Could we make it through this?

You can exactly pursue a part time career so our part time jobs consisted of bartending, hostessing and other promotional gigs. Blah!

Our roommates came from the restaurant Brian worked at. We figured that might be a safe bet. Wrong again!!!

Failed rental payments. Ruined furniture. Total negligence of OUR home. This was not a rental for us.

And then one day, Brian says “let’s just runaway to an island.”

“Are you kidding?”

He proposed that if he found someone I was comfortable with to rent our house, why not give it a try. Knowing there was no way he could satisfy my crazy OCD, I agreed. This wasn’t going to happen.

Within 19 days, he found a Brazilian executive coming to complete a 2 year project at the Coca Cola Headquarters located in Atlanta. We got his employment verification. Guy make $250,000. I am thinking he can handle our $1500 mortgage payment. It was just him and his wife. They needed a furnished home. They don’t know anyone in Atlanta. No danger of ragers burning down my home. Hmmmm…

And just like that, we packed up our lives and took off!

We didn’t know what to expect. We rented an apartment for a month to see if we could uncover any job opportunities in St. Thomas.

We went suited up to the Ritz Carlton. It was the largest employer on island. We were not your typical islander - walking in with a wife beater and dreadlocks. The HR office told us “We don’t know where we are going to put you bit you are hired.” It was easier to find a job there than state side at the time.

Carlton was an experience I will never forget. From day 1 of training, I would learn higher standards of relationship building. Even to this day I cannot help but answer every “thank you” with “my pleasure.”

At The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen." This motto exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by all staff members.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I thought carrying around a credo card in our pocket everyday was nerdy. Yet I saw employees brining these service values to life regularly.

Maybe the cards had a magical power. There is no question that the guests had a magical experience. No wonder people pay the prices they do to stay at these resorts. I can’t say I have stayed at many Ritz Carlton’s in my lifetime. Yes, the rooms are lovely. I’ve seen better. However, the experience is like no other. This is how they create customers for life.

Weekly competitions to see who made the biggest difference in a guest stay. “WOW” stories shared in the daily lineup – here department heads organized us and broke down the day. We were trained to know everyone by name. Any detail acquired regarding a guest – their favorite candy/food/desert, place to travel, family members, favorite color, sports team, special occasions, room accommodations (extra/less bedding, more creamer, more towels, turndown times, alarm times) – we were trained to record in a database. Never again will a guest have to ask twice for something when staying at The Ritz.

Working in HR, I came across all the WOW stories. It was my job to recognize these wonderful acts.

A special occasion dinner reservation doesn’t end with the call. The concierge prepped quite an anniversary for one couple. Because the wife would be wearing a long dress and could not walk the long distance to the restaurant, arrangements were made for special parking privileges. The piano player in the restaurant practiced the couple’s favorite song, and the wife’s favorite flowers were ordered. And of course, a heart-shaped cake was also made for the special occasion.

During the day at the Spa, the spa attendant decided to make a special gift to commemorate the couple’s new journey into parenthood. Her creative and artistic abilities kicked into high gear. She crafted a full-sized ‘baby adventure book.’ Each page offered an area for a photograph and handwritten note by mom or dad. To add to the baby joy, she sewed 12 different onesies—one for each month of the baby’s first year!

Food allergies? No need to worry here. You may hear from the Executive Chef personally. He will ask questions about food preferences as well as special brands of foods that are safe. Never has a kid been so happy to eat pancakes (pancakes without eggs or milk is no easy feat). “During our stay, my son was able to order a variety of creative and healthy meals, including a ‘real’ pizza (sans cheese) for the first time in his life! Our whole family enjoyed the club’s and restaurant’s food, and we were able to relax, knowing that our son’s food was safely prepared.”

Creating a quality experience takes detective work. You need to be on constant look out for clues.

This is the quality I will forever bring to my clients. Few are able to become a “Realtor for Life.” I don’t care who you are or what your price range is. You are royalty to me and each of you will be treated that way.

This is why I put so much energy and time into preparing homes for the market. Every detail counts. My value driven approach puts quality above all else.

90% of buyers start their home search online. Let’s face it. If you can’t peak interest online, you aren’t getting any showings through the door.

It is evident to me when a home has been rushed to market. I mean, would you even look at a property with these pictures? A kindergartener could have done better. There was no effort in accentuating this condo’s potential. Who loses most? The homeowner. This agent surely isn’t carrying around a credo card of his service values.

With collaboration of scientific staging, tons of preparation and professional photos this documented approach continues to exceed expectations. Does your agent have a documented approach?

While every home needs its own accommodations, all clients deserve a WOW story.