Whether they are individuals or hotel companies, I work with investors who own rundown motels and want to turn them into boutique hotels. I manage the entire process from beginning to end, working with architects, designers, and general contractors to meet the owner’s criteria.
There aren’t many independents that do this work. It’s often large firms, which gets expensive for the client.
I started my career working in hotels, so I understand exactly how the operations work, and this adds a lot of value to a project. For instance, I can explain to a designer why certain ideas, although aesthetically pleasing, aren’t feasible from an operations perspective.
I’m always inspired by the designers and creatives I work with. I also get very inspired when traveling, visiting hotels, and seeing their ideas. Recently, I’ve been particularly interested in how hotels are using their common spaces in innovative ways because of COVID-19 restrictions.
I love the transformation, turning a hotel around, and seeing the result. I love seeing the guests enjoying the fresh look and feel of the place, but it’s also rewarding to know that the business has been turned around financially so that it makes a lot more money after the renovation.
I became independent a year and a half ago. Initially, I worked in the operations side of hotels in different countries; then, I worked for a real estate firm managing their interior build-outs of restaurants. After that, I worked for a consulting firm where I did what I do now in the restaurant industry, which led me to where I am now.
I learn with every project. I learn novel ways of doing things from working with contractors and other professionals. I also learn from the project itself; for example, working with a historic property teaches you to adapt, and I’m able to take this knowledge into my next job.
I’ve been fortunate to have bosses who encouraged me to take on more responsibility and taught me how to lead a team. They guided me to where I could take on a managerial position.
I work with two types of clients: Small hotel firms that own and operate their properties and hire me to improve the assets or investors who want me to turn the property around to sell it again a few years later. Each type of client has very different needs and approaches.
One of the most exciting projects I am currently working on is a hotel in Miami. It was a very rundown, family-owned motel that needed to be completely renovated and repositioned. It was a historic property with its challenges, but we are completely revamping the concept, branding, and even revenue management to achieve a total transformation.
The ideal project for me is the renovation and repositioning of a hotel asset. I prefer working for smaller hotels, particularly those projects that are very focused on the design and local character. I love to take a property that is just a building and turn it into an experience.