For Burnell Goldman, taking over as general manager of the Omni Downtown wasn't just a move up to a larger property in the chain, it was the fruition of a wish that began in 1999.
While some people in the hospitality industry came to their career by chance, Goldman said being a hospitality professional is the only career he ever wanted.
While earning a bachelor's degree in hotel administration from Cornell University, he worked at Cornell's student-run Stadler Hotel. During class breaks, Goldman went home and worked at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Chicago as a bartender, bellman and a member of the banquet staff.
"I'm probably one of the rare individuals who knew what he wanted to do in this business from an early age. I wanted to get into it and I did," Goldman said.
Before arriving in Jacksonville, Goldman was general manager of the Omni in downtown St. Louis, a "luxury boutique hotel" in a restored historic building.
Before joining Omni in 2006, Goldman worked for a national hotel management company at properties all over the country including in Chicago, New York City, Virginia and Las Vegas.
While on a business trip to a property in Jacksonville Beach, Goldman had some spare time to discover the area. It made an impression.
"I thought it was pretty cool, so my wife and I decided to come back for a vacation a few times. We thought we could possibly retire in Jacksonville. There's the beach, there's the town, there's golf and fishing. It piqued our interest," said Goldman.
"When I started with Omni, I said if I ever had a chance to go to Jacksonville, that would be a city I'd like to live in. Seven years later, here I am," he said.
Goldman said being Downtown and running the second-largest hotel in the city appealed to him as a hospitality executive. The Omni's long reputation Downtown also is an asset.
"The advantage is the quality of our name and brand. It's just a nice hotel and we have a great team here. They are very proud that they work at this hotel and they know our customers by name. I'm very happy to join this hotel and open up another chapter in my career," Goldman said.