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L ars Conrad is part of a growing community of young professionals who are bringing new ideas and energy to South County. His passion and profession is luxury hotel and hospitality management. And where better to pursue that passion than San Martin’s world-famous CordeValle golf resort. Lars, 26, was born in Strasbourg, located in Eastern France near its border with Germany. He is very proud of his European heritage. “I loved growing up there,” Lars said. “It’s a very cosmopolitan city with a rich history that blends French, Alsatian and German cultural influences. Strasbourg has this central role in European affairs as a capital of the European Union, seat of the European Parliament and other organizations.” Strasbourg had a big influence on Lars’ choice of education and career. “It’s a gorgeous region known for really great food, wine and hospitality.” By his own admission Lars is a very goal-driven person. It’s a trait he attri- butes to his mother, Gabrielle, who works in Human Resources manage- ment; and his father, Hubert, a doctor. But it was a twist of fate that set Lars on his current course. “Things might have gone quite differently for me. Originally I planned to join the French Navy with the idea of becoming an officer, maybe a career officer. So I tested and was accepted, but then I got injured and couldn’t go.” Undaunted, Lars chose a different path, heading to Paris where he earned an MBA in hospitality management. He went on to work at resorts in Ireland, France, Switzerland, and even Marlon Brando’s private island just north of Tahiti in French Polynesia. A few years ago, he was exploring new options in Europe when he heard about an internship opportunity in the U.S. “When the opportunity came up to work in California as a food and beverage manager in training, it just made sense. I’d always wanted to spend some time in America and knew it would be a good career step. I thought, ‘I’m in!’” Lars was hired as an intern at CordeValle and found “it was absolutely a good career move right from the start.” After his one-year internship, CordeValle’s executive team asked him to stay on as an employee and helped him renew his visa. CordeValle is a 1,700-acre private resort nestled in San Martin’s rolling, oak-studded hills. It is managed by Rosewood Hotel Group and owned by high tech billionaire and philanthropist Hasso Plattner. The resort’s 7,360-yard championship golf course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., and hosts international competitions. “Many of our members are local and from Silicon Valley. They like the fact that this is a true retreat away from the hustle. Here they can breathe and enjoy the beauty and the quiet.” “CordeValle is known for its highly personalized service, and Rosewood sets the standards for us to operate as a luxury resort,” Lars said. “They provide guidelines and then it’s up to us to adapt them to the local region in the way we manage our operations.” Il Vigneto is CordeValle’s signa- ture restaurant, which offers casual yet refined dining. Lars oversees the wine program and organizes themed wine dinners and tasting events. He is pursuing sommelier training and certification to extend his knowledge of wines, spirits, and cocktails. In addition, he works closely with the banquet staff and Chef Alexander Lamotte, formerly with French Laundry and the Four Seasons in San Francisco. “I sell what I’m passionate about. Making wine selections is a series of questions. ‘Do I like it? Will our members like it? How can I best intro- duce different varietals and new local and international selections into our collection alongside familiar favorites?’ I encourage people to try new things and have fun exploring wine and food pairings.” GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN april/may 2019 In 2017, Lars applied for a Wine Spectator restaurant award, and the following year, Il Vigneto was honored with the Best of Award of Excellence, which recognizes restaurants for their commitment to offering exceptional wine programs and high levels of wine service. “It was a huge honor that wouldn’t have happened without the collabora- tion of our team. They have great pride of ownership and work hard to make sure everything is always done the proper way.” Lars is not only very focused but confident about his career path, and will do his utmost to master each new position to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a Resort or Hotel Manager within 10 years. “Rosewood Hotel Group has many wonderful opportunities. I’m fortunate to have been hired and received training at CordeValle. Their trust in me has inspired my loyalty.” A Morgan Hill resident, Lars describes his home town as “a nice community. Clean and safe. I like the energy and atmosphere in downtown Morgan Hill.” In his spare time, Lars hikes and bikes on local and regional park trails and trains for triathlons. “This is a beautiful area. I love to run the trail systems at Henry Coe Park and Mt. Madonna, and bike the Uvas loop. Mission Peak is also on my list.” While he’s enjoying California life, Lars said he misses home. “My girlfriend Manon lives in Paris and she’s building her career too. We’ve been dating for quite some time and I’m hoping she’ll be able to visit soon. My parents try to come once a year and it’s always good to see them and show them around.” As for the future, Conrad has a plan that works and it’s clear he intends to keep working the plan. “I believe in hard work, not luck. That’s what brings opportunities.” 71