From the time her father, Bob Gill, opened the Sheraton Yankee Clipper and Sheraton Yankee Trader in the 1950s, CLAS alumna Linda Gill has had an inside view of how to run a successful hotel and become a leader in the hospitality industry. With years of hands-on training, she was named president and CEO of Gill Hotels in February 2003.
"Over the years, working at various jobs at both hotels was the best way to learn this business," Gill says. "From the front desk to the behind-the-scenes operations that make a hotel run smoothly, I had the opportunity to gain the knowledge I need to ensure our hotels' ongoing success."
Gill Hotels is one of South Florida's leading hotel companies and one of Broward County's largest employers. Gill oversees all operations of the two landmark hotels and manages more than 600 employees, while her father continues to serve as an advisor. Like every successful leader, she manages the present with an eye on the future.
"We continually upgrade and improve the hotels, and are currently in the process of planning a major renovation," she says. "We are focused on staying competitive and providing the improvements that will keep our guests happy and encourage them to return year after year."
The Sheraton Yankee Clipper, on Fort Lauderdale beach, was built in 1956. It has 501 rooms, a conference center, steakhouse restaurant, an array of beachfront activities and the unique Wreck Bar, which has an underwater view of the main swimming pool. The Sheraton Yankee Trader, just one mile up the beach on A1A, has 459 rooms in two towers. It is distinguished by its conference center with ocean views, a poolside bar and grill overlooking the ocean and Shula's On The Beach steakhouse.
"I enjoy running the hotels," Gill says. "Every day is filled with challenges and rewards. The hospitality business is all about working with people, and I have the benefit of working with a great staff to assure that each guest has an excellent stay with us."
Working with people comes naturally to Gill, who studied psychology at UF, receiving a BA in 1975. Although she originally planned to return to college for a master's degree in psychology, Gill realized her true passion was for the hospitality business. After taking several hospitality and finance courses at Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University and working at an accounting firm, she returned to Gill Hotels in 1985 as vice president.
In addition to her business commitments, Gill is known for her dedication to Florida's tourism industry and to the community. She is active in her local Republican party and recently gave a generous donation in support of UF's political campaigning program in the Department of Political Science. "I stay involved in politics because I feel it is the only way to help make a difference in government, while promoting a better business climate," she says.
She has held leadership positions on the board of directors of FLA USA, the Florida Hotel and Motel Association and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Lodging & Hospitality Association. In 1993, she became the first woman to chair the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.
"When I went into the hotel business, there weren't many women in management positions," she says. "I'm happy to say that now there are many more." And when the time comes to hand over the reins of Gill Hotels, she hopes her 18-year-old daughter, Jenna, will be interested in taking over the family business. "She's worked here during the summer and recently expressed an interest in coming to work for the company," Gill says. "It would be a thrill to teach my daughter this business."