Robby Younes, Chief Operating Officer & Wine Director
Robby Younes is a dynamic, accomplished senior hospitality executive and industry expert. A successful background in international fine dining and hotel management has laid the foundation for his dual roles as Chief Operating Officer at Crystal Springs and the Resort’s Wine Director.
Originally from Lebanon, Younes experienced many hardships in his youth as the country went through a period of turmoil. However it was through these hardships that he came to understand that with hard work, ambition and resilience you can achieve the unimaginable.
Hospitality is an inherent part of Mediterranean culture and the art of honoring your guests has been passed down through his family for generations. His family never failed to display generosity towards their guests and instilled this in Younes. As a boy, he was taught about the concept of seasonality and the importance of using quality products. He also learned to forage in a responsible way. This education has stayed with him throughout his hospitality career and been imperative to his success.
Younes’ background in hotel management comes from years spent working in renowned boutique hotels as well as for Starwood and Hilton hotels. He rose quickly through the ranks of their exclusive dining rooms, becoming an executive in his mid-twenties. Known for having a keen eye for detail, Younes then played an instrumental role in the success of Copeland in Morristown, NJ. As the Director of Restaurants & Outlets he spearheaded the operations, working closely with the chef, and the restaurant was recognized by Zagat's "America's Top Restaurants" with a ranking in the Top 25.
The year 2008 marks a pivotal point in his career, as Younes joined Crystal Springs Resort as the Food & Beverage Director of the Grand Cascades Lodge. Due to his success in the role, he quickly advanced to the position of Regional F&B Director. Leading the culinary division with entrepreneurial vigor, he conceived and opened the Chef’s Garden with the vision of creating a garden to table experience.
Keen to expand his repertoire, he explored his love of fine wine and attained sommelier certification, as well as membership to the exclusive Les Chevaliers du Grand Vin. Upon advancing to the role of Wine Director in 2008, Younes immediately invigorated the wine program with his passion and drive. Under his direction, the prestigious Wine Cellar has continued to amass an enviable and impressive collection of rare and prized wines. It is universally regarded as one of the world’s finest, with bottles comprised of 6,000 labels and valued at $21 million
Younes has masterminded several initiatives which shine the spotlight on New Jersey, including conceptualizing and successfully orchestrating the annual New Jersey Wine & Food Festival. He has worked diligently to make this a prestigious annual event by partnering with organizations such as the James Beard Foundation, Ment'or and Share Our Strength. Through Robby's work, the festival has drawn some of the world's best chefs to Crystal Springs including Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Jose Andres, David Bouley, Francis Mallman, David Kinch and many more. He also oversees the annual New Jersey Beer & Food Festival held in June.
Younes continues to be an advocate for fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration and shared vision that embraces hospitality from the heart and is ultimately dedicated to guest satisfaction. A true hotelier, guest satisfaction and team motivation remain paramount as indicators of success. As Chief Operating Officer, he is charged with continuing Crystal Spring's extraordinary growth and the Resort's commitment to excellence in hospitality and the culinary arts.
Susanne Wagner, the Sommelier at Restaurant Latour and the Wine Cellar at Crystal Springs, has more than 30 years of strong professional background in the hotel and restaurant industries. She received her initial training at the Hotel Management School in Bad Reichenhall, Germany (her native country), followed by a 3 year apprenticeship. Susanne then left Germany to build her experience in various restaurant positions throughout Europe. She came to the U.S. in 1992 and held supervisory roles with Sheraton hotels for seven years.
Her arrival at Crystal Springs in 2002 sparked a strong interest in wines, as one of her initial positions at the Resort was to help create and build the Wine Cellar. Susanne studied at the International Wine Cellar in Manhattan and graduated with an advanced certification. She was instrumental in the launch of Restaurant Latour, and has managed several key operational aspects of the dining room and Wine Cellar. As of 2006, she has held the position of Sommelier for Restaurant Latour and the Wine Cellar.