THE BLOG

Women in Business Q&A: Kelly Roberts, Historic Mission Inn & Spa

02/21/2015 07:37 am ET | Updated Apr 23, 2015

Kelly Roberts graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California and additionally earned a degree in law. She is an entrepreneur who invests in Real Estate, apartments and other interesting businesses. Kelly is an equestrian and her hobbies include mixed martial arts and Pilates.

Kelly and her husband Duane are Owners of the enchanting AAA Four Diamond, Historic Mission Inn & Spa in Riverside, California. Kelly holds the position of Chief Operating Officer for The Historic Mission Inn Corporation, as well as, the visionary behind Kelly's Spa at the hotel, where Kelly has launched a new botanical line of products and hotel amenities, Kelly's Fountain of Youth Skincare and Beauty Collection, organic teas, chocolate truffles, nail polish, aromatherapy candles and a new Wellness Program which offers Yoga and Pilates classes within the convenience of the hotel.

In December of 2009, Kelly and Duane Roberts and their daughter, Casey Reinhardt opened the first Casey's Cupcakes. Casey's Cupcakes is a Food Network Cupcake Wars award-winning, sophisticated and delightful cupcake boutique inspired by a classic Parisian café with a glamorous Hollywood twist. The original Casey's Cupcakes is located at The Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, Calif. as well as Fashion Island and Woodbury Town Center-Irvine, Irvine Spectrum Center and Bella Terra-Huntington Beach. As President of Casey's Cupcakes, Kelly oversees the branding, public relations, marketing and overall operations of the business.

Kelly is amongst the distinguished board members of Pepperdine University. Additionally, Kelly is recognized as a Pepperdine University Life Associate. Kelly is a member of the Board for the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Foundation, the Board of Directors for the Mission Inn Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving the public trust in the Mission Inn and member of the Fox Riverside Theatre Foundation Board of Trustees.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
After finishing my undergraduate degree at USC, I went on to earn my law degree and focused on a variety of businesses, investments and interests including running for office.

Before I became COO of The Historic Mission Inn and President of Casey's Cupcakes, overseeing all aspects of the hotel and brand, including operations, customer service and hiring, I worked closely with Harvesters, a foundation for the Orange County food bank, as well as the ATSC Youth Counseling Program where I was the honorary chair for the Sophisticates 14th Annual Designer Fashion Show. In 1995, I served as President of the Alternatives to Domestic Violence, a nonprofit agency aiding victims of domestic violence in Riverside County.

I have always been politically inclined, taking a great interest in local, state and national politics. My experience as Director of Political Affairs for Entrepreneurial Capital Corporation has allowed me to take an active role with political leaders, holding an elected member position of the Board of Governors for both Mt. San Jacinto Community College District and The University of California at Riverside. I was also a member of the board of directors of the World Affairs Council of the Inland Empire. This council is the premier forum in the Inland Empire of California, which presents national and world leaders for discussions about global issues. Diplomats, journalists, business leaders, military officers and others with leadership roles and global expertise address this unique and respected forum.

I've spent a great deal of time traveling and exploring the best the world has to offer in hospitality and spa services. When my husband Duane and I purchased The Historic Mission Inn Hotel in 1992, one of California's most celebrated historic landmarks and lodging establishments. I knew instantly that the life of an hotelier was the perfect avenue to channel my business savvy and keen eye for detail.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Historic Mission Inn & Spa?
I have held positions with the University of Riverside Foundation Board of
Trustees, the Angels of the Arts, an organization that raises money for the Orange County Performing Arts Center and the Newport Harbor Auxiliary Children's Home Society of California, a mother-daughter charity organization.

One of my most respected accomplishments is assisting Duane in the creation of the Mary S. Roberts Foundation. Co-founded with my husband Duane, this unique organization supports many charitable causes that fall within the scope of the foundations extraordinary mission: to help children with special needs, families of crime victims, the homeless and the hungry.

I also founded KRR Enterprises. Guests can take home a gift from Kelly's Spa Fountain of Youth Collections, including body hydrating milk, bubble bath, revitalizing day and night cream, luxurious and nourishing Mediterranean mud masque, cleansing milk, hand soap, in-room guest amenities, turn down chocolates, luxurious robes, guest slippers, nail polish, fine teas, private label water bottles, pool towels, aromatherapy candles and more.

In 2005, the Riverside Republican Women Federated voted for me to be the recipient of the "Mother of the Year" award. I have served as a member of Team California, a prestigious organization that raises funds for Republican causes. I participated in major fundraising campaigns for Governor Pete Wilson, Congressman Ken Calvert, Senator Ray Hayness, District Attorney Grover Trask and then Governor George W. Bush and collaborated with the Lincoln Club of Riverside County. This unique organization works towards advancing Republican principles by educating members and others about Republican policy initiatives and supporting Republican candidates for state and national office. In 2006, I was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Council on Criminal Justice.

I've lived a life dedicated to philanthropy, which continues to this very day. I have always been active in the community currently serving on the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital Foundation, as a Pepperdine University Life Associate, and as a distinguished board member of Pepperdine University. Giving back is something I'm very passionate about and it's my personal mission to leave the earth a better place than when I arrived. That's why I'm constantly updating and beautifying every aspect of The Inn, so families can create memories here for many more years to come. Starting my family while earning my law degree helped shape me into the multi-tasker extraordinaire that I am today. In addition to serving the communities of Orange County and Inland Southern California, I have a vineyard and winery in Oregon where we bottle our Roberts Reserve Pinot Noir and a new chardonnay. I am currently spearheading a number of beautification projects to The Historic Mission Inn.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at the Historic Mission Inn & Spa?
Our wonderful guests, staff and the Riverside community are by far the best highlight of operating The Mission Inn, Kelly's Spa and Casey's Cupcakes day in and day out. It's something really special to hear stories from people all over the world share how they are connected to The Mission Inn - whether they have stayed here, their parents were married here, or they come annually for Festival of Lights.

The Mission Inn's annual Festival of Lights is a month and a half long event that features nearly 4 million lights, carolers and more than 400 animated characters. Horses in authentic carriages clip-clop around the grounds, carolers serenade the visitors and an elaborately decorated Christmas tree greets guests in the lobby. My husband and I started The Mission Inn's Festival of Lights tradition 22 years ago to celebrate the reopening of The Inn. Festival of Lights brings the community closer each year and nothing warms my heart like seeing the smiles across children's faces when they're looking up at the holiday lights.

Another highlight is launching Kelly's Spa at The Mission Inn in 2004. It had always been my ambition to restore the hotel to its original glory and at the same time think ahead to create experiences that go beyond the expectations of our guests. We introduced Kelly's Spa as a sanctuary and escape for our guests - a place to indulge in luxurious treatments, relax and be pampered, all while feeling as though you've been transported to a Tuscan castle.

One challenge I've encountered and overcome is balancing my personal and professional lives. When I travel, I'm always in search of new ideas to bring back to Kelly's Spa, the hotel and Casey's Cupcakes. It's important to remember when to turn off the business conversations and focus on family conversations.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
In the hospitality world, there is nothing more important than listening. Being mindful of guest feedback and catering to their often-changing needs, interests and preferences is vital in running a successful hotel and spa. It is also important to me that our employees are like family. I strive to ensure our employees are appreciated and they know how grateful I am as the property would not be the success it is today without their loyalty and dedication.

Become an expert in your field, I draw from my own personal experiences as well in the spa and wellness industry to stay on top of evolving trends. Go above and beyond. I constantly look for ways to surprise and delight my guests at The Mission Inn, Kelly's Spa and Casey's Cupcakes whether it's by creating innovative spa treatments and packages, giving away prize packs to Casey's Cupcakes loyal followers on social media, or by coming up with new features and décor for Festival of Lights.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Be driven, passionate, love deeply and give back. To further my dedication to making a difference in the world, I've recently established the Kelly J. Roberts Foundation, which supports the Wounded Warrior Project and other important human related causes.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I'm very into health and know that feeling good about yourself physically, spiritually and mentally, you'll live a happy life. I try to create that balance within my own work, and in my off time enjoy riding horses, kickboxing, ballet and Pilates.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship has greatly shaped the way I conduct myself as a businesswoman and as a mother. I have served on the board of Olive Crest, a foundation dedicated to helping nearly 2,000 at-risk children and their families throughout the West Coast. My work with Olive Crest has been incredibly rewarding, as I cherish working with young children who face difficult obstacles and are able to succeed and achieve their truest potential when given the opportunity, using education as a foundational tool.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I strongly admire strong and effective women like Condoleezza Rice, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina and Nancy Brinker. They represent a group of elite corporate leaders who have run huge global corporations and held important government positions and have become stand out role models promoting education and other women's causes.

What do you want Historic Mission Inn & Spa to accomplish in the next year?
It's a historical landmark and there are so many beautiful pieces, history, personalities, art and architecture that truly make the property the crown jewel of Inland Southern California. This year, we're working on several enhancement projects throughout the hotel. I'm leading the design of a brand-new wine room, a new business center and a soft goods update to the hotel's meeting spaces. Striking a balance between maintaining the integrity of the original architecture and making sure the hotel appeals to the modern comforts of today's discerning travelers requires attention to detail and daily maintenance, but I'm always excited to unveil a fresh experience for guests.