– follow Sal –
WHAT DO YOU DO AND HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I am the VP of Brand Development for a new hospitality company called Journal. Journal is a creative company that develops and operates hotel experiences, creative retail space, and high profile events. Journal currently manages the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Bradbury, Park Plaza, and now Two Bunch Palms, all based in Southern California. I have been diligently working on the overall brand architecture and aesthetic for the past year, and finally, the Journal brand will introduced to the world over the next month or so…I come from a family that has owned and managed about 20 small hotels all along the Jersey shore (insert joke here). Growing up, I spent every summer either painting yellow lines in the parking lot, carrying and stocking linen closets, working the front desk, and/or lugging garbage bags dripping with stale beer into dumpsters… starting from the bottom to say the least. After college, I lived in Miami (mid 1990s) and was very drawn to culturally and architecturally significant hotels like the Delano, the National, and the Raleigh… I guess from then on you could say I was hooked. I then spent the next 20 years working with great people across different hotel brands, and continue to do so today.
EAST COAST OR WEST COAST?
I live in LA, but will always call the East Coast home.
WHATS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY IN THE PAST 15 YEARS?
I think one of the biggest changes that stands out to me is that the more traditional and business travel hotel brands such as Hyatt, Marriot, Intercontinental etc. all now have large footprints in the “lifestyle” sector…whereas I think years ago those particular brands were always attached to a stigma and a “heads in bed” no-frills mentality. It is now the new standard that all or most hotels have community-fueled lobbies, unique and interesting food and beverage options, and distinctive programming where possible.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN WITH TRAVEL/HOTEL INDUSTRY NEXT?
Hard to say, I think Airbnb is really changing the playing field. Although not a traditional hotel environment or booking experience, it does offer travelers a more affordable and intimate approach to really living like a local. I believe younger travelers like the sense of freedom and nomadic yet communal experience…part of me also feels that hotels will revert back to being a bit simpler, more sophisticated, less overdesigned, and even overall less activated; a place where you can find solace and comfort, rather than a party in the lobby or at the pool.
IF YOU HAD THE DAY OFF TODAY WHERE WOULD YOU BE?
Actually, when I leave my “job,” I head home to 3 kids all under 6 years old to begin the real work. No days off here, Ben.
IF YOU COULD THROW A PARTY FOR ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
This is a tough one…I think part of me really wants to know what it was like to roll around with guys like Frank Sinatra in his heyday; be backstage at a Vegas show, or at his Palm Springs house with the Rat Pack clamoring around Hollywood’s young starlets. Then again I would have also loved to plan the after-party for Nirvana’s famed Unplugged performance in the 90s.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE HOTEL IN THE WORLD?
I am not sure I have a favorite hotel, but I do have a favorite style. I love places like the Beverly Hills Hotel, The Sunset Tower, The Greenwich Hotel, The Mercer, and Chateau Marmont. These places represent tradition, yet they function with the most modern sensibilities. I find it magical, whether you are just hanging out, or staying overnight, that you instantaneously get transported into either another time period or state of mind, or both… there is always that sense of being part of something bigger that I find to be comforting, because no matter how many times you go, you can always feel it.
YOU’VE THROWN SOME OF THE WILDEST PARTIES HOTELS HAVE EVER SEEN, WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU CAN RECALL?
Ha… so hard to even remember at this point, but I would say in order to keep throwing these kinds of parties, one shouldn’t really reveal the naughtiness and debauchery that sometimes lives at night.
WHO OR WHAT IN THE INDUSTRY HAVE YOU GOT YOUR EYE ON? DO YOU THINK WILL HAVE AN IMPACT?
I think it would be foolish to ignore the possibilities of what technology will offer to hospitality over time. It’s already made such a bullish and impactful push into all aspects of travel, I guess at some point soon there will be that dreadful moment when we will all walk into a fully automated hotel without any employee or human interaction. I also think we will see hotels conceptualized and developed by big brands. I am sure in the very near future, we will see an Apple, Google, Nike, or Under Armor Hotel pop-up, embracing their own brand-centric, very unique take on hospitality.