Finding Peace Through Travel – Rozeta Mahboubi – Women’s History Month

Rozeta Mahboubi, FRLA Broward Regional Director

Finding Peace and Life Through Travel

Throughout a life filled with change and progress, a steadfast love of travel always comforted and centered Rozeta Mahboubi, FRLA Regional Director for Broward. Originally from Iran, her family first came to the United States to find better medical care for her sister. While here, her parents continued to do what they always did – travel. They traveled around the U.S. to find where they would call home for a few years, but when the Iranian Revolution began, they knew they could not return and were in America to stay.

With a stop in Maryland, they later settled in Denver. “It had all 4 seasons and beautiful mountains. It was very similar to Tehran,” Rozeta says. They had found their home base. And while Colorado was home, they never stopped traveling. It was something Rozeta developed a passion for early in life. Whenever big decisions in life arose, Rozeta took to travel – to the skies and to boats (Did you know that she originally wanted to be a Cruise Ship director?). Immersing herself in travel and other cultures helped her find her way through the next big decision she had to make.

Her passion led her to study Hospitality Meeting & Travel Administration in college after switching from computer science. She wrote her thesis on cruise lines in her quest to become a Cruise Ship Director. After spending time on a ship in Norway running events and catering for charter cruises, she visited her parents who had then settled in San Diego and began working for the San Diego Princess Resort. While there, she met someone, fell in love, and ended up moving to Las Vegas, where she was surrounded by all of the great hotels and developers. She worked at The Luxor Hotel & Casino in sales and marketing for a period, but eventually took a job with a German Tour Operator who hired her to put together tour packages across North America for German-speaking travelers. As it turns out, Florida is an incredibly popular place for German travelers, and she wanted to learn all she could about the state, so she relocated here in the late 1990’s.

She spent time in Naples opening The Inn on Fifth and then settled in Southeast Florida, worked for the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Airport, followed by seven years as the Tourism Director leading the Hollywood Office of Tourism. During that time and under her administration, they opened the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and The Diplomat Resort & Spa. She loved her time in destination marketing and had amazing experiences like traveling with Governor Jeb Bush and Enterprise Florida to South America and Europe to promote tourism for the City of Hollywood.

When Rozeta felt she needed a change, you guessed it. She went traveling – this time to Thailand, Indonesia, and Europe – a very “Eat, Pray, Love” moment, she tells us. She wrote a lot during her travels, a prized possession being her journals which she hopes to turn into a book one day. She eventually settled back in South Florida, initially as the President/CEO of Martin County Convention & Visitors Bureau and ultimately consulting for various travel and tourism partners before she found her way to FRLA in 2019. She loves advocating on behalf of her members and bringing her diverse background across destination marketing, hospitality, and events to her work as Regional Director. She credits her happiness in her current role to the people she works with. Not long after joining FRLA, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and then her father passed away. With so much going on, she was comforted by the bond she shares with her members and board who helped her through such a tough loss.

Throughout her diverse career, she faced some challenges, feeling that she lost out on certain positions because she was female, but she used those experiences to improve and grow. Rozeta is thrilled to see more women GMs and in other leadership positions, something she think certainly deserves celebrating this Women’s History Month.

Her desire is to share her experiences and help inspire younger women in her community and in this industry. She wants to contribute to helping build future leaders and advises women coming up in hospitality to follow their strengths and passion and go for their dreams. “Don’t be afraid to break barriers,” says Rozeta. She sure wasn’t!

Closing Question: Is there a woman from history who you admire? Why?

“My grandmother. She was raised in very small town in Iran where religion and culture limited her capabilities, but in her own way, she broke the mold. Women weren’t supposed to do things in Iran like speak up or earn respect, but she was a strong woman – a true matriarch. Despite the rules and expectations, she was highly educated and self-taught, which was rare in a place where no schooling or reading was allowed. She would tell me, ‘I have read more books than the hairs on my head.’ She was always a student, reading about history, geography, politics, you name it. She had to hide her books and her writing journals and was placed into an arranged marriage at an early age. She had everything against her, but she overcame it, eventually raised her family, and has left us a legacy of strength and determination. Whenever I was faced with a decision, she would encourage me and say, ‘You decide your life. You find your path.’ She was a trailblazer for sure.”