Hyatt Regency New Orleans GM Michael Smith Retires

Smith MichaelNEW ORLEANS – After 45 years of service, Michael O. Smith has retired from his role at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. During his time as general manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, he was known for supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as mentoring a diverse team of executives and associates. He also supported LGBTQ+ causes, arts and culture and education.

“This is a wonderful ending to a new beginning,” he said. “I love Hyatt and Hyatt has loved me back. From thousands of associates, to a great company culture, the honor is for all over the test of time.”

Smith was named an “Unsung Hero of Hurricane Katrina” for his evacuation efforts after Hurricane Katrina and later received a symbolic key to the city from New Orleans officials. He is credited for bringing the hotel back into action after the storm. 

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In 2014, he was appointed by the mayor to the New Orleans Aviation Board and served as chair of the operations/disadvantaged business enterprise committee. He was responsible for overseeing administration, operations, and construction of the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, throughout the construction and 2019 opening of a new 972,000-square-foot terminal. Along with the trio of honors from the city, in 2017, Smith was awarded the Jay A. Pritzker Award recipient, attaining the title of “Hyatt Hotels General Manager of the Year.”

Smith’s passion for education has led him to help UNCF raise more than $13 million,  keeping more than 2,000 students in school and ensuring uninterrupted education to the students of Xavier and Dillard universities. Due to these efforts, Smith was awarded honorary doctorates from both universities. In 2023, an endowed scholarship fund was created in Smith’s name in recognition of his efforts and contributions to UNCF over the last 10 years, in support of the Mayor’s Masked Ball. This scholarship will continue to help students stay in the classroom long after his retirement. 

Hyatt Regency New Orleans has supported, initiated and sponsored several of the city’s cultural events, including the New Orleans Ballet Association Annual Gala, UNCF’s Mayor’s Masked Ball, Pride Prom, the New Orleans Museum of Arts’ Odyssey Ball and the Human Rights Campaign Annual Gala. 

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In 2018, Smith earned an Emmy Award for his debut as co-executive producer for the “Making 300: Celebrating New Orleans Icon Leah Chase” documentary. This year, Smith will release his first book, an autobiography, called “A Will, The Way, The Higher Purpose.” The book will recount Smith’s life from 6 to 65, with messages of manhood, scholarship, perseverance and servitude.

He has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign, Boy Scouts of  America, Sisters of the Holy Family, and the New Orleans City Council.

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