By Alison Bailin Batz
Photos by Claudia Johnstone
There are defining moments in all of our lives, moments that help shape who we are and who we will be.
For Paige Lund, who grew up in a small Minnesota town called Mound with a population of less than 10,000, there were several defining moments that helped set her on the path to making Arizona history.
“When I was 13, I took a job at the Country Kitchen in the middle of town,” Lund says. “From the day I walked in the door, I knew hospitality was my fate.”
Lund fell in love with hosting guests, turning strangers into friends over service and the fast pace of the kitchen.
“I decided by high school in the late 1980s that I would one day run my own restaurant,” says Lund, who began researching college restaurant programs while in high school. “I settled on Northern Arizona University (NAU) as it had the small-town feel and familiar weather of my hometown, but with the world-class School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.”
Lund’s second defining moment would also take place in high school.
“At just 40, my mother retired from the workforce to dedicate her life to volunteerism with Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) in Minnesota,” Lund says. “CASA volunteers are appointed by the court to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children during court proceedings and in other settings so that they can thrive in safe, permanent homes.”
Inspired by her mother’s dedication, in addition to diving into her studies once at NAU, Lund joined Gamma Phi Beta, whose philanthropic mission is to provide experiences and resources that build resiliency in girls.
While there, Lund would also meet her now-husband of 25 years, Clark Lund.
“In 1993, as I prepared to graduate and get married, I set my sights on a role with Old Spaghetti Factory, which had been recruiting me for some time,” Lund says. “But, in an effort to practice my interview skills, I met with one last company first.”
That company was Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
“This sounds funny now, but when the recruiter noted all the restaurants I would be able to manage and even wholly run if I chose to go the hotel career route, I was dumbfounded. Yes, even though I was in the hotel and restaurant program, it never occurred to me to even explore the hotel side of the coin,” says Lund, noting this turned out to be a third defining moment in her life.
From that day forward, Lund would make the hotel and resort industry her career.
“I started with Wyndham in 1993, taking a position as a food and beverage manager in development back in Minnesota, though Arizona is where Clark – a native of Lake Havasu City – and I longed to put down roots long-term,” says Lund, who would also work for the brand in Illinois and Georgia before earning a position at The Ritz-Carlton Phoenix in 1998.
The next 20-plus years would fly by, with Lund serving in various leadership roles at a laundry list of Arizona’s top resorts including The Ritz-Carlton, Boulders Resort & Spa, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, The Wigwam and Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, among others. Along the way she would also welcome two daughters – Allyson Faith, now 15, and Abigayle Grace, now 13.
“During this time I also continued following in my mother’s footsteps as it relates to servant leadership,” Lund says. She began volunteering with various organizations such as Grace & Mercy Foundation, Washington Elementary School District, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. She also joined the board of directors for HopeKids Arizona, an organization that brings hope to children with life threatening diseases.
Lund also took on several leadership roles within the Arizona hospitality and tourism sectors. Today, she is a member of the board of directors for the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, an advisory board member for City of Phoenix Tourism and Hospitality, and a member of the national advisory board for the NAU School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.
“I’ve worked hard, but would be remiss if I didn’t note that none of this would be possible without my dedicated husband, who himself is busy helping develop a church in Desert Ridge. We clearly both like to take on big opportunities,” Lund says.
Speaking of big opportunities, what’s next for Lund?
“Recently, I made the decision to join the iconic JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa as its first-ever female general manager,” says Lund, who took on the role at the historic resort beloved and often-visited by Mr. Marriott himself as it completed a series of multimillion-dollar renovations to public areas and event spaces.
Over the next two years, Lund will lead the resort as it undergoes additional enhancements, including facelifts to the guest rooms, the spa, and various other areas throughout the property.
“Our mission is to honor the history of the property while helping usher it into the 21st century with state-of-the-art enhancements and thoughtful upgrades,” Lund says. “I’m honored to work with an amazing team and look forward to raising the bar even higher for this iconic property while still maintaining its Southwestern charm and heritage.”