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Quirky GM’s

16 August 2022
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Image By Maison de La Luz

Unique traditions that some iconic hotel GMs have before opening a property – from meditation to a lucky Tom Ford jacket to a team crawfish boil.

Chiming in are representatives from across the country, including New York City’s Walker Hotels and Gansevoort Meatpacking, the newly opened Dawn Ranch in Sonoma County, CA, the Shinola Hotel in Detroit, and the elite Maison de la Luz in New Orleans. 

Peter Yeung, Managing Director – Walker Hotels – NYC

Before opening a hotel, I like to get familiar with the new layout and space of the property. My tradition has always been sketching out a floor plan so it is better ingrained in my mind before I take the helm and move into the hotel, so to speak. More recently, I have made sketching a family affair by asking my two young daughters to help me and chime in on how to outfit the space with furniture. My girls feel valued and that sketch turns into a piece of art that I hang in my office post-opening. 

About Walker Hotels: 

With locations in Greenwich Village and Tribeca, Walker Hotels is the perfect place for visitors and staycations alike. Shaped by the neighborhoods they reside in, each property reflects the history and community through programming and design. Adorned by handsome cobblestoned streets and lined by world renowned cafes and bars, Walker Hotel Tribeca is fellow to a multitude of historic warehouses turned lofts – and the brilliant minds of innovative artists and independent filmmakers. The 171 guestroom property, which was once a button and ribbon factory constructed in 1899, boasts three food and beverage outlets, including a rooftop bar, Happy Be and subterranean speakeasy-style cocktail lounge Saint Tuesday. The unique design, central downtown Manhattan location and warm hospitality of Walker Hotel Greenwich Village, secures its place as one of the luxury boutique hotels in NYC. Architecture inspired by the Georgian revival towers of New York’s 1920’s famed Fifth Avenue, and rich romantic interiors with Art Deco inspired wall-coverings envelope displays of original artwork by emerging local artists.  Reminiscent of the early days of Greenwich Village, yet, inspired by today’s vibrant thriving culture – Walker Hotel Greenwich Village encourages guests to explore the city of today and tomorrow.

Anton Moore, General Manager – Gansevoort Meatpacking – NYC

Fashion inspires me and my tradition involves a turquoise Tom Ford jacket. To me, there is nothing like wearing a beautifully designed piece to make you feel confident. This one jacket in particular, I choose to wear for hotel launches because turquoise represents calm, compassion and communication – three important attributes that are required when opening a hotel. The fine tailoring and fit mimics the luxury experience I want the guests to feel while enjoying our property. I once worked for a hotel brand that told us to prepare for each workday as if you are preparing for a first date. There is nothing more invigorating than a first date or an opening of a brand-new elevated hotel or product experience.

About Gansevoort Meatpacking: 

Following a multimillion dollar rebrand and renovation in 2021, the new Gansevoort Meatpacking has solidified its place in the luxury market and is a hub for fashion, design, culinary excellence and the arts. Sinceits opening in 2004, the 186-room hotel has served as an icon in the community and features a full service ground-floor restaurant, year-round rooftop bar and restaurant, a 45-foot heated outdoor pool, and indoor and outdoor space where guests can enjoy unobstructed, 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline. New to the property are rooftop Omakase experience, Saishin, which offers incredible sushi along with 360-degree views of the city, and Coffee + Cocktails, the ground-floor restaurant and cocktail bar that offers gourmet options throughout the day, from coffee in the morning to after-dinner cocktails and nightcap. The property is just steps away from the Hudson River, the High Line, Little Island, premium shopping and dining, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Chelsea Market and more. The property has completed a top-to-bottom renovation touching all floors, accommodations and public spaces.

Teach Mayer, General Manager – Dawn Ranch – CA

I love listening to the stories and legends about the property.  It helps me visualize how people have experienced this place in the past – and use that as a starting point for imagining our future. I set aside time each day to mindfully walk the property and feel into the energy the spaces hold. It’s not unusual for me to spontaneously sit down and meditate in a space to fully immerse myself. What makes this place special?  How can that be enhanced?  Feeling into the experience of the space as it was, as it is, and the possibilities it holds for the future.

About Dawn Ranch:  

Nestled on the banks of the Russian River in Sonoma County, historic Dawn Ranch has played host to vacationers from San Francisco and around the globe for over a century since opening in 1905, and continues to invite guests to reconnect with nature through its outdoor activities and proximity to California’s beautiful Redwoods. From its beginnings as a dining hall with tented cabins to taking the title of the first gay destination resort in California’s wine country, to its closure after 2019’s devastating flood, Dawn Ranch reopened in spring of 2022 as a full service resort.

Less than a 90-minute drive from both San Francisco and its wine country counterpart, Napa Valley, visitors have been drawn to Guerneville for its rich history, proximity to nature, bohemian atmosphere and culinary scene. Named for the rare dawn redwood trees found on the lush 15 acre-property, Dawn Ranch offers an escape to the old-school magic of the Golden State. The riverfront resort is a virtual natural preserve with 53 chic cedar-topped individual cabins with access to wide open meadows, wooded nature trails and lush gardens that supply on-site restaurant, Agriculture Public House, as well as wedding and event spaces for up to 300 guests. 

Sergio Maclean, Mac&Lo Hospitality – Operators of  Shinola Hotel – Detroit

We’ve opened about five hotels and a few restaurants and it’s never the same. The one thing we always try to do is go dark for a day right before opening. A means of turning off before we have to be completely turned on – a self-prescribed calm before the storm, if you will. We try to give the entire team a day off before we open as well. If possible we even set up a little pre-opening party too. This is always great for us and the team because it gives us a moment to step away from the chaos and look at all the work we’ve done thus far before the craziness of opening. 

About Shinola Hotel:

Housed in the historic bones of the T.B. Rayl Co. department store and Singer Sewing Machine Company building, the Shinola Hotel offers a luxury boutique experience in the hometown of the eponymous brand. The carefully designed space by Shinola and Gachot Studios pays homage to Detroit’s historic architecture and industrious aesthetic, inspired by the burgeoning art scene in the city as well as the leather goods and timepieces best known by the Shinola brand. Shinola serves as “Detroit’s living room,” offering spaces for guests and locals alike through its variety of dining options, open living room-style lobby, and nearby shopping. The hotel has 4 on-site F & B venues: San Morello, an upscale Italian restaurant; Evening Bar, the elegant cocktail lounge; The Brakeman, a lively beer garden; and Mr. Dips, a delicious creamery. 

Brian Englehart, General Manager – Maison de la Luz – NOLA

Teamwork and fellowship are two important components for the success of any hotel and that camaraderie, I would argue, is more apparent in the state of Louisiana. It just has a way of bringing people together. One tradition that is special to me is putting together a crawfish bowl for my team and their families. There is no one from Louisiana that does not cook their crawfish so before opening, I invite everyone over and have two 40 lb sacks. When we opened Maison de la Luz in 2019, my son was 18 and helped with cooking, which made it even more special. The recipe to the hotel’s success is my crawfish boil – pun intended. 

About Maison de la Luz:

Maison de la Luz is a distinctive guest house from Atelier Ace, designed by the coveted team at Studio Shamshiri.  With 67 resplendent suites, private sanctuaries and bespoke concierge service, Maison de la Luz offers an exclusive stay in a lighthouse for the senses, reverent of elegance, irreverent of convention and is marked by generosity of spirit. The guest house is also home to Bar Marilou, a vividly decorated cocktail lounge, serving delicious drinks and bites. 

Images of each property’s manager can be found here