HBA Americas President Meghann Day joins us to talk about what it takes to work on some of the best hotels in the country including Pebble Beach Resorts, Conrad Tulum, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, and Fairmont Chateau Whistler, to name a few. With projects in the work in South America and the Caribbean we hear why Meghann thinks these markets are primed for growth along with another overseas market.

Video Transcript

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I know the question on everyone’s mind is where is Glenn today?

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Maybe you’ll find out.

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I don’t know.

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I’m Anthony.

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Welcome to No Vacancy Lives.

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That’s my friend Glenn.

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You’re watching the number one show in hospitality.

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Hey everybody, welcome to No Vacancy Live.

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I’m Glenn Hausman.

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If you’re wondering where Anthony is, well, check in with him.

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He’s somewhere on I-95 stuck in traffic.

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Who would have thunk it?

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Traffic on I-95 in the New England area.

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I’m absolutely shocked.

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All right, I happen to be in New England as well.

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I want to thank the good folks at the Hilton Garden Inn in Waltham, Massachusetts for allowing me to stay in my room a little bit late so I could bring this broadcast live.

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to you so uh i also want to check out we had some uh some big news in the hospitality industry as you know choice hotels has unveiled their brand new ad campaign featuring uh keegan michael key that first one had me uh laughing so i reached out to chief marketing officer noah abdallah got a great interview with her that’s playing right now on all of the new vacancy channels so check out that mini interview but for today i’m excited because we’re going down

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the design world today.

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One of those areas that I know just enough about to be dangerous.

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So it’s a good chance I’ll be embarrassing myself today, but I have a luminary in the business and I had to look that word up, but it fits.

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We got Megan Day, president of HBA Americas.

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Megan, welcome to No Vacancy.

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Thank you.

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Thank you for having me.

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Thanks so much.

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Thanks so much for being here and giving me a chance to breathe.

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I think I spoke for a minute and 45 straight.

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So I want to set the stage right.

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I love the I love the firm.

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And in my old job.

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10, 11, 12 years ago, I had the honor of interviewing, I think, a recently retired Michael Bednar on stage at a BITAC event.

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And to me, that was really a highlight because he’s one of the people that really helped, I think, define hospitality design as not just a thing, but as something that could be incredibly elevated and created.

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So

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all of us human beings could enjoy throughout the world.

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Am I right about that kind of assessment?

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Yeah, so he started the company in the late 60s with Howard Hirsch, and it was really interesting.

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Their first client was Hilton, and they did the first hotel design, some of the earlier ones with Hilton, and then it just continued to grow from there.

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So it’s a really great story.

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He’s quite a personality, as you’ve witnessed.

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And still is, by the way.

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He’s still called.

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Oh, no.

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Absolutely.

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I know he’s off doing other stuff focused on helping reinvent design as well through sustainability.

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But today we’re here to focus on you and what your company is up to right now as we’re going.

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First of all, I’d like to start with what a great story this is because you’re president of the Americas and you’ve been with them for 18 years, starting off in the ranks as a regular designer.

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That’s something to me that’s pretty inspiring, Megan.

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thank you.

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Yeah.

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I started under Michael.

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That’s why I brought it up.

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I figured you had to at least pass in the hallway a couple of times.

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Oh yeah.

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I worked with him directly for three years, which was quite an experience.

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Right.

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So many stories in those three years to tell, but yeah, started as a designer and then slowly worked my way up, which I think was nice about HBA is there’s so many other individuals that have the same story and the same path.

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Right.

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So it promotes within HBA.

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um you know and the ability to be able to grow in the company and and grow and and into different positions too i think it’s fantastic yeah it really is so how is um how has the business of hospitality design changed during your career

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I mean, it’s just, I think number one, technology has changed, right?

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So the way we design has changed.

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I mean, we used to, when I started, you would send off hand-drawn drawings.

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You would wait a week, you’d get them back.

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Now we joke, right?

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It takes 15 minutes and you have responses back and marked up plans on a presentation.

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So it’s faster.

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Right.

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It’s it’s continuously growing very quickly.

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And we have the influence now in design, which is something that’s very interesting.

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So for us, not only aesthetics are always going to change, but as designers, it’s been the technology aspect of it that’s really growing fast.

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Very quickly.

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Yeah.

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I mean, obviously early on we saw a technology revolution of allowing computers to aid you in design, right?

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And now it’s all about the processes.

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And one area that I think design technology is cool is through the use of VR.

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I had one of those headsets.

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It makes me a little bit nauseous.

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I didn’t like it.

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It’s not my thing, but I

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think about practical applications and designing out a space so the people that are financing that project who typically don’t have the visual acuity that you do to see things right they see things differently i see things in words i don’t get pictures but if i could walk through a space as an investor i think that really gets people to understand so that has probably been pretty helpful

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Yeah, and you hit the nail on the head.

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So we understand 3D, but we realized years ago, most individuals don’t, right?

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Because I look at that board, and I’m like, I don’t understand how this little swatch is going to be something.

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Yeah.

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So we do 3D walkthroughs, 3D modeling across the industry and hotels.

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Everyone does it right away so that we don’t go too far down the road.

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And an investor, like you said, says, wait, wait, wait, I don’t really want that.

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I wish I could have seen that in the beginning stages.

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So design has changed to where it’s 3D right away.

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modeling blockouts, just so everyone can visually see all the spaces prior to the next phase.

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Not only that, but the quality of the images.

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Sometimes you go, is that, is that what?

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That’s a rendering?

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What?

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You know?

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Well, and the renderings are incredible.

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That’s why we’re so excited about these technology changes, because now a client can see a rendering and they walk into their space knowing that that is what their space is going to look like.

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Before, you know, you’ve been through this process, too, of design.

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It was some hand sketches and you kind of knew what was happening.

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Now you can zoom on the rendering.

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You can see the background.

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You can walk in the space when it’s completed to see that.

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So it’s been fantastic.

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Yeah.

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Back about…

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20, 19 years ago, I did PR for a little while.

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And one of my clients was somebody who owned a major luxury hotel in New York City.

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And he was working with one of the world’s most famous architectures on a suite at the top of this building.

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But he didn’t have that visual sense.

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And every single time they built it, he’s like, I don’t like it.

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Let’s start over.

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And the project went millions and millions of dollars over budget.

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And they did like five iterations because of just that.

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You know, so also probably because, you know, he was a billionaire and a little bit cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

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But watch the movie on TV about this guy was Zach Galifianakis.

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That’s all I’ll say was it was really good.

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All right.

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So, Megan, what we did is I went ahead and I got some images that we could go through and talk about that because I am not good with understanding a lot of the words.

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I need to have the actual pictures to put to it.

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Yeah.

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So for everyone out there, if you’re listening to our audio feed, and I know thousands of you are, don’t worry.

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In the show notes, I’m going to have a link to this very PowerPoint so you could follow along with us.

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And let’s get going at about eight minute mark now.

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I never did that before, Megan.

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All right, so we’re at Elusa Winery in Napa.

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One of the common themes that we’re going to find throughout this is really understanding that sense of location and what the property is supposed to be as a starting point, right?

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Correct.

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So this is a Four Seasons property and all the items we’re going to show everyone, these are projects from the past three years.

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So you can kind of see what’s been happening in the last three years.

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This was a new build during COVID, had all the challenges of a new builder in COVID.

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But what’s nice about this property, and it gives you an example of the use of the property and use of the land, all the wine that’s in this winery, the vineyards are in the actual property with the guest rooms.

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So it’s nice.

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So the guests step out.

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This is the vineyard.

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They can participate in the program.

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You can actually be part of the process of making the wine within this winery, which is fantastic.

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So it’s a really unique project where the hotel

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is on the actual vineyard and you get to have that immersive experience.

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So this one we wanted to show because this is something new.

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This is something that’s that opened right after COVID.

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And it’s a, it’s a cute boutique winery.

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It’s a local farm, but you can see the results of COVID.

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This looks different than what we had designed because of the product availability during COVID.

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We had to find items that were in line in stock, something that we could get within the timeframe.

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So I think it turned out quite well, but this was unique because it is there.

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It’s very immersive and you really kind of have a unique experience there.

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All right.

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So it feels like very different to me than what a Napa property I would normally think of.

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Right.

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I would think, you know, more traditional kind of a look.

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But this has got more of a modern appeal with flavors of mid-century modern in it.

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Would that be?

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Yeah.

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So working with the ownership group of the winery, we work closely, even though it’s four seasons, four seasons involved, the ownership of the winery is involved.

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So they wanted a more modern approach, right?

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If you see the rest of the property, it’s very, all the guest rooms have concrete floors, which is very different.

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So taking that and applying it to the winery.

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So, you know, this is a lot of handmade items, right?

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This feels very Napa with some of the elements as the wood, the display cases, the art, which is cool.

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And one of the images previously, if you move forward, it’s actually a cannonball shot through metal.

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It’s just some neat elements.

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So it’s all local artists.

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On the back wall of this photo, it’s the Grapes of Wrath on the actual pages from the book in a vine form.

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So there’s some neat storytelling that you see with each of the elements.

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So storytelling is, of course, the centerpiece of everything that I think designers do, because it really gives you an idea of how to proceed.

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So how do you tell the story that you’re still able to capture the essence of what a winery is supposed to be and how we bring in our preconceived notions of that, but then kind of add that modern element overlay?

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Correct.

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So, you know, for this particular winery, you know, it was the branding team.

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They have a certain brand that they wanted to showcase, right?

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And then we always work within those brands.

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For this particular brand, they were new.

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They were a younger group.

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They wanted something that kind of set them apart because there is so much competition, right, Glenn?

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There’s so much in this area.

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This is Calistoga.

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Calistoga is starting to really become the next, let’s say, Napa Valley.

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So really working with them on how do we set this apart from all the other wineries that you see?

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What are the materials that you use?

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Tell the story through how they manufacture right there within the property with the guests.

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That’s a great story.

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And then kind of the local artist story that you see not only at the winery, but through the rest of the property as well.

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Yeah, what I really like about what you do is you’re really able to capture the essence of the location.

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For example, the Fairmont Whistler.

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Now, before I saw the name of the file that said Fairmont Whistler, I immediately thought, oh, you know, snowy skiing type of environment.

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Yeah, I mean, that’s what I really like because you’re able to use design so cleverly in with shortcut cues that kind of set the stage, I think, for you to be creative within that playground that you create set up.

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Yeah, so jumping into Fairmont Whistler, this is an example, you know, the winery was a new build, right?

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The challenges of Whistler, as everyone can see here, this is their new gold lounge.

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We redid the whole hotel, but this was also during COVID.

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And what individuals don’t know is they were, Accor is relaunching kind of their gold lounge program, modernizing it, making it something that’s a little bit unique with a lounge library feel, but then also you have a kitchen feel.

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So what’s interesting is these are actually guest rooms.

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So to make this, this is an older hotel.

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It was built for the Olympics.

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And making this feel like a new space and a new lounge while dealing with existing guest room heights, trying to make sure that you don’t feel that this is a guest room room.

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So this was something that was very fun.

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A lot of local artists, a lot of local materials, but really has that rustic mountain feel.

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Wow.

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So you’re dealing with an older property, right?

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I mean, it’s on the older side of older.

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It’s old before it becomes historic because it’s old, right?

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Because if it opened for the Calgary Olympics, that was 88, right?

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Yeah.

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Geez.

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I was just turned 18 back then.

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Now look how old I am.

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But yet the property, the property looks so fantastic over there.

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So that brings a lot of unique challenges that newer properties or historic properties don’t necessarily come with.

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This is probably built for we lived a little bit differently.

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We had expectations a little bit differently of our hotel.

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So you’re kind of stuck, I would think,

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because it was built in 88 in an infrastructure that didn’t change.

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I feel like the late nineties things start to really change and become more modern.

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So how do you approach something like that?

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If I’m correct?

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No, I completely agree with you.

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So the biggest deal that you can see here is I can almost touch these ceiling heights and I’m shorter, right?

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So, um, you know, the challenge with this, as you can see here is making this room feel big, right?

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Making this feel very large.

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that you have the heights.

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We have to be careful of the materials that we use.

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You can’t go too dark.

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You know, we have to make sure that we carry a lightness here so that it feels, I mean, I think these are only seven and a half foot ceilings.

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Normally in these spaces, you need a nine to 10 and that’s what the industry is now.

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But at this time, as you’re stating, correct, this was a guest room.

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So it’s a lot shorter.

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So, you know, popping up where we can around mechanical, making these pop-ups.

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So it feels like this very expansive, large space.

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Yeah.

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And you’re right about the high ceilings.

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I love the rooms.

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I don’t know who designed them.

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I had at Crockford’s at Resorts World Las Vegas.

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And the reason why I bring them up is because one year I was in a regular sized room, which it wasn’t a big room.

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It wasn’t a small room, but it felt really good because the ceilings were higher.

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So it just gave me a perception and a feeling that.

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of much more space than it actually was.

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So that’s a really great hint right there.

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Look at this gorgeous guest room that you put together here.

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Yeah, so these are the guest rooms.

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These are their gold suites.

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And once again, you can see how the ceiling height translates to the lounge.

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It’s the exact same space.

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These rooms, every room had a fireplace.

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It’s very important.

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And just bringing in materials that were kind of nice and warm.

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The biggest thing with the core is the art program, right?

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Which is interesting.

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You work with artists within a 50 mile radius.

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So they have a tie to the property and a story within the property, which is great.

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Yeah, and I love that.

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because they’re so invested in the local community and what that means.

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You can really help enhance that storytelling aspect by putting in those elements.

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And also you get a lot of that design of the things you didn’t know that you didn’t know that those folks inherently have in boot with them.

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So Ritz Carlton Baccarat.

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Now this also looks very, very different than the previous two.

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Yeah, so what’s unique about HBA is, and what’s nice about HBA is, all of our projects are completely different.

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Every single one, we start from scratch.

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It’s a customized design.

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We do four-star, five-star properties, which is great.

16:33.780 –> 16:35.141
This is an example location.

16:35.401 –> 16:37.023
This is in Santa Barbara.

16:37.863 –> 16:41.326
It was the renovation of the hotel public spaces and restaurants.

16:42.046 –> 17:01.975
um what’s nice is you do feel that you know that santa barbara feel in here compared to what you saw with whistler and then of course valley and that’s kind of a spanish mission style exactly and is that right yeah yes correct exactly so this is a great one um this was remodeled and opened um about a year and a half ago

17:02.555 –> 17:22.957
you know you had to work with existing materials there’s a lot of things that they didn’t want to change it’s another renovation example versus a new new build up some minimal changes working with existing materials right working with existing design and architecture but enhancing this and that’s what we’re seeing too glenn is you know a lot of properties they know they need to upgrade

17:23.477 –> 17:32.609
But with the current market and what we went through COVID, you know, how can we be creative with the best return of investment of where can we spend money?

17:32.709 –> 17:39.718
What’s the best location to spend money and update while keeping some other things at a certain level until a few years down the road?

17:40.379 –> 17:53.025
I would say, and I’d like to hear your perspective on this, but I think financial restraints and rules that are put into place actually help folks like you get more creative, right?

17:53.045 –> 17:58.048
Because you have to come up with a solution as opposed to getting caught up and I could do anything.

17:58.088 –> 17:58.848
How do you see that?

17:59.286 –> 17:59.486
Right.

18:00.206 –> 18:00.947
For Baccarat, right?

18:00.987 –> 18:03.048
How do we, this used to be a traditional lobby.

18:03.488 –> 18:09.231
The financial was a little restrained on, you know, as all properties after COVID, what can we spend?

18:09.671 –> 18:11.572
How do we make this something that’s functional?

18:11.612 –> 18:14.153
How do we make it into an F&B space as well?

18:14.613 –> 18:18.995
How do we use this so that it serves, like I said, it’s drinks and restaurant, but lounge for clientele.

18:19.015 –> 18:21.236
So being creative with that within this budget.

18:22.056 –> 18:22.677
Yeah.

18:23.197 –> 18:25.118
This is beautiful space over here.

18:26.107 –> 18:28.408
Yeah, these are some of the lounge spaces within there.

18:28.428 –> 18:36.290
It has, you know, and you’re seeing too, as you’re seeing a trend, everyone wants to kind of bring, let’s say, home, hotel to home, right?

18:36.350 –> 18:39.270
So bringing your residential feel into hotels.

18:39.350 –> 18:41.111
It’s been something for the past six years.

18:41.151 –> 18:44.912
We know that it’s something that’s continuing to evolve and grow.

18:45.432 –> 18:50.013
You know, this is an example of that, that residential feel, but within a hotel application.

18:50.578 –> 18:54.501
So, yeah, I’ve seen this trend going on for a long time now.

18:54.661 –> 19:00.106
But a residence is so different than a commercial space like a hotel.

19:00.226 –> 19:09.634
How do you get something to look like it should with having materials and things that will stay around for a while?

19:09.674 –> 19:13.237
So I’ve been to some properties that it’s just like, this is three months old.

19:13.257 –> 19:13.657
Yeah.

19:13.937 –> 19:15.499
I know it depends.

19:15.519 –> 19:15.719
Yeah.

19:15.739 –> 19:17.862
You have to be careful with the vendors that you use.

19:17.882 –> 19:21.387
And what’s nice is all the vendors are now customizing everything.

19:21.507 –> 19:24.050
So we make sure that it’s commercial quality.

19:24.110 –> 19:29.076
We make sure I mean, the general rule is it needs to last five to seven years and warranty of product.

19:29.837 –> 19:51.083
uh fabrics i think you’re talking about glenn just fabrics and the overall furniture quality they you know right these days it has to be five to seven years and we work with those vendors to make sure that their quality is within that some properties at some boutique companies um they might use some residential fabrics or furniture we just avoid that it’s just we all know it’s going to break down within a year

19:51.767 –> 19:53.308
Yeah, it sure will.

19:53.328 –> 19:57.311
So now we’re taking a look at some outdoor dining space over here.

19:57.431 –> 20:00.634
Yeah, so this particular property has a lot of outdoor spaces.

20:00.654 –> 20:02.275
So this is just showing you one area.

20:02.375 –> 20:05.558
As it should in Southern California, otherwise what’s the point, right?

20:05.698 –> 20:06.318
Exactly.

20:06.718 –> 20:08.280
So this is just an indoor outdoor area.

20:08.300 –> 20:13.003
You can see there’s several areas on this property that you’ll see this, but this is just an example of one.

20:13.383 –> 20:19.148
This is an outdoor furniture company we use all the time that has a unique look, but it is also commercial quality.

20:19.875 –> 20:20.155
Yeah.

20:20.175 –> 20:21.215
And then coming up, St.

20:21.255 –> 20:22.616
Regis, Chicago residences.

20:22.996 –> 20:24.816
So this is a little bit different.

20:24.876 –> 20:31.378
One of the things that you have to do with this discipline is you actually have to have the residence resident side.

20:31.778 –> 20:34.738
And there’s obviously going to be a hotel component, too.

20:35.579 –> 20:35.999
I don’t know.

20:36.039 –> 20:40.820
I don’t think I don’t have pictures on that specifically, but they have to kind of complement each other.

20:40.880 –> 20:45.821
But they can’t look exactly the same would be my guess from someone who’s never done this.

20:46.021 –> 20:46.201
Yeah.

20:46.281 –> 20:46.361
OK.

20:46.621 –> 20:46.821
Yeah.

20:46.921 –> 20:48.922
So a lot of brands, as you’ve noticed in the St.

20:48.962 –> 20:50.802
Regis and others, Ritz Carlton does it.

20:50.842 –> 20:53.783
They always have a secondary branded residences.

20:53.883 –> 20:54.103
Right.

20:54.183 –> 20:56.624
Same thing as Four Seasons, Four Seasons residences.

20:57.164 –> 21:05.787
So what’s interesting about that is they a lot of individuals and a lot of owners come to hospitality designers because we have that hospitality feel.

21:06.267 –> 21:06.447
Right.

21:06.487 –> 21:08.808
But we need to bring it within a residential element.

21:08.848 –> 21:13.349
But the residential element also needs to last like a hotel five to seven years.

21:13.429 –> 21:15.650
So there’s been a particularly public spaces.

21:16.010 –> 21:16.150
Right.

21:16.210 –> 21:16.630
Exactly.

21:17.110 –> 21:18.531
And then also with the units, too.

21:18.571 –> 21:19.811
So this is showing you the St.

21:19.831 –> 21:22.052
Regis residences that just opened this past year.

21:23.152 –> 21:26.273
We did the public amenity spaces that you can see here.

21:27.013 –> 21:28.033
What a freaking view.

21:28.593 –> 21:30.013
It’s amazing view.

21:30.194 –> 21:31.234
It’s amazing view.

21:31.334 –> 21:32.134
Oh, my gosh.

21:32.594 –> 21:34.695
And whenever we do this, too, it’s a little bit different.

21:34.715 –> 21:39.816
You know, when we do hotels, there’s an investment team involved as well as the operator and owner.

21:39.836 –> 21:39.936
Right.

21:40.356 –> 21:47.226
With residences, we are involved with the residences that actually purchase the property and the condos as well.

21:47.267 –> 21:48.008
It just depends.

21:48.629 –> 21:53.636
Sometimes there’s a board of directors, so sometimes you’ll have five opinions and sometimes you’ll have over 40.

21:53.716 –> 21:53.916
Right.

21:58.356 –> 22:00.058
So, Megan, that brings up another point.

22:00.838 –> 22:10.927
One of the things that I don’t think we really talk enough about is negotiating with all these different personalities to be able to create a singular vision.

22:10.987 –> 22:16.211
That’s got to be sometimes pretty easy, but sometimes the opposite would be true, I would think.

22:16.792 –> 22:21.233
If you ask any designer, it’s our biggest challenge.

22:21.353 –> 22:24.695
You’ve got a lot of clients when you think about it.

22:24.715 –> 22:29.796
You think one client, but there’s actually six to eight to 10 and beyond when it comes to residential towers.

22:29.816 –> 22:32.737
Because we’ve got the operator, we’ve got Marriott with St.

22:32.757 –> 22:33.357
Regis.

22:33.417 –> 22:37.879
You’ve got the ownership group, you’ve got the investment group, and then you have individual owners.

22:38.732 –> 22:41.475
You know, we make sure that we hear all voices.

22:41.575 –> 22:46.479
When we start a project, we make sure, Glenn, something we always ask is, what don’t you like?

22:47.020 –> 22:51.063
It’d be better to see things that they don’t like so that we can then continue.

22:51.564 –> 22:55.247
That’s how I worked with my wedding band decades ago.

22:56.088 –> 23:00.012
I’m like, do not play these songs right here.

23:00.032 –> 23:01.813
I’m looking at you, Celebration.

23:01.853 –> 23:03.535
I got tired of that during my time.

23:08.481 –> 23:11.783
Yeah, so anyway, so yeah, it’s always, this is different.

23:11.823 –> 23:13.624
It has that hospitality feel, right?

23:13.724 –> 23:15.725
So it’s something that needs to last over time.

23:16.125 –> 23:18.406
For this project, they kept a neutral palette.

23:18.786 –> 23:22.948
It was a directive of ownership and of course the ownership team as well.

23:22.988 –> 23:26.749
That’s something that has that timeless appeal for this particular market.

23:27.250 –> 23:31.671
Again, creating some good rules for you to be able to be creative within.

23:31.752 –> 23:34.893
Now, this is something that I love.

23:37.455 –> 23:44.081
I love all of them, but I really, to me, this one connects with me in a way that’s a little bit special.

23:44.181 –> 23:45.802
Conrad to womb.

23:45.943 –> 23:51.668
So here, my guess is bringing a lot more of the outdoor and indoor into one cohesive plane, right?

23:52.230 –> 23:52.490
Correct.

23:52.530 –> 23:53.831
So this project I actually worked on.

23:55.131 –> 23:56.552
We’ve been working in Mexico, Glenn.

23:56.732 –> 23:58.853
The Mexico market has been very unique.

23:58.893 –> 24:00.534
So we’ve been working in Mexico since 2010.

24:00.954 –> 24:06.577
And the development down there, and it’s not just resorts, it’s urban settings.

24:07.958 –> 24:08.618
It’s everywhere.

24:08.778 –> 24:12.560
And it’s along the coast, it’s in the middle, it’s down south, which is very exciting.

24:13.440 –> 24:15.222
This is the Conrad Tulum.

24:15.802 –> 24:17.223
This was a very fun project.

24:17.283 –> 24:22.087
What’s neat about Mexico is the local artisans, the quality of work.

24:22.668 –> 24:27.051
Everything that you see here in this project, it’s all in Mexico.

24:27.671 –> 24:33.296
So the only thing that because of the import laws and the restrictions that they have with the U.S., this is stunning.

24:33.336 –> 24:34.537
So this is when you walk in.

24:34.977 –> 24:36.539
Just so everyone knows, these two doors are

24:37.579 –> 24:43.625
are about 20 feet tall, hand carved wood doors, which are just stunning.

24:43.645 –> 24:45.987
And there’s eight of them as you walk into that entry.

24:46.027 –> 24:46.428
That’s all.

24:46.508 –> 24:50.051
And they probably only and they only close when there’s a massive storm or something.

24:50.311 –> 24:52.854
Yeah, they do rotate and then they rotate beyond.

24:52.874 –> 24:56.057
But, you know, the resorts in this particular resort, you want to see the ocean.

24:56.197 –> 25:02.083
The whole goal is to be able to see right through, have this cool feeling, but have this indoor outdoor experience, which is amazing.

25:02.623 –> 25:03.723
So this was a fun one.

25:03.803 –> 25:04.824
It was great.

25:04.864 –> 25:05.704
It was a great team.

25:05.744 –> 25:16.348
But like I said, what’s interesting when you work in these different regions like Canada that you just saw with Whistler versus the US versus this, they wanted to reflect the local cenotes.

25:16.768 –> 25:18.468
So this is their spa, which is stunning.

25:18.488 –> 25:19.509
You’ve got to go down there, Glenn.

25:19.929 –> 25:20.769
It’s very fun.

25:20.809 –> 25:24.070
There’s more to it than just this, but it reflects.

25:24.090 –> 25:26.431
So when it rains, it rains within the spa.

25:26.511 –> 25:28.352
So you actually get the rain comes down.

25:28.392 –> 25:29.272
It’s an open ceiling.

25:29.292 –> 25:29.872
It’s not closed.

25:30.633 –> 25:31.313
That is wonderful.

25:33.120 –> 25:35.182
Right?

25:35.282 –> 25:40.326
I’m one of those guys that I love one of those heavy thunderstorms in the summer up in New York.

25:40.726 –> 25:49.974
And I sit either on my patio with a little overhang or I’ll actually sometimes set up a chair in my garage and just watch the rain come down.

25:50.034 –> 25:50.875
That would be so fun.

25:51.355 –> 25:51.656
Cool.

25:51.696 –> 25:53.337
I find it very, very relaxing.

25:53.417 –> 25:53.618
All right.

25:53.938 –> 25:55.319
Waldorf Astoria Cancun.

25:55.760 –> 26:03.888
So interestingly enough, same mothership company, but very different brands for what they’re trying to get across.

26:03.968 –> 26:05.750
Waldorf is much more…

26:07.051 –> 26:10.475
historic in feeling and vibes, I think, right?

26:10.495 –> 26:14.479
Think of the Waldorf New York coming back, I understand, by the end of this year.

26:14.800 –> 26:17.663
Finally, very different than what the Conrad is.

26:17.723 –> 26:21.928
So tell me a little bit about what your rules were here and how you achieved your goals.

26:22.520 –> 26:24.961
Well, and these two properties are about an hour and a half apart.

26:25.001 –> 26:27.122
So we’ve got Tulum, which we all noticed before.

26:27.142 –> 26:30.283
It’s just, it’s more connected to nature, right?

26:31.004 –> 26:34.065
This project, this was the first Waldorf at the time.

26:34.145 –> 26:35.686
And we started this project in 2015.

26:35.786 –> 26:38.967
It was the first Waldorf in Mexico.

26:39.107 –> 26:44.329
So I think that there was a struggle to discuss what is this going to be, right?

26:44.409 –> 26:45.470
Is it going to be beach?

26:45.770 –> 26:47.050
Is it going to be city?

26:47.170 –> 26:48.511
Is there going to be a combination?

26:49.071 –> 26:54.593
I think what you see here is a combination of something that has a sophisticated look, right?

26:54.973 –> 27:06.136
But it has a little bit of that beach infusion, but it still goes a little bit more towards the Waldorf luxury brand, as opposed to what they’re working on at Cabo, which is a lot more beach.

27:06.416 –> 27:08.596
I need a little clarification from you.

27:08.856 –> 27:12.978
What is the goal of this property in regards to its clientele?

27:13.058 –> 27:18.059
So I want to know how that kind of informs how you create that kind of hybrid feel.

27:18.735 –> 27:21.416
So the goal of this is luxury traveler, right?

27:21.456 –> 27:28.298
And they were targeting specifically this client in Mexico, a lot of Mexico city clientele that traveled to Cancun.

27:28.318 –> 27:30.759
They were looking at, uh, Barcelona as well.

27:31.359 –> 27:33.620
Um, so it’s, there’s a sister property.

27:33.640 –> 27:35.360
There’s a Hilton here and then there’s a Waldorf.

27:35.420 –> 27:42.943
So it was looking for luxury travelers, uh, staying one to two days, you know, sometimes two to three, but they knew it only be a two day stay.

27:43.964 –> 27:45.425
So it offers all the amenities.

27:45.465 –> 27:47.506
You have the full spa package like the Tulum.

27:47.526 –> 27:48.887
It’s not as large, a little bit smaller.

27:49.168 –> 27:49.388
Right.

27:50.989 –> 27:52.710
And then you also have the restaurants.

27:52.750 –> 27:54.472
You have their standard brands.

27:54.492 –> 27:58.115
There’s a three mil, but then there’s also their luxury Peacock Alley restaurant.

27:58.475 –> 28:09.944
There was all the brand standards that they have that you’re going to see in New York scaled down a little bit smaller scale, but in a resort element, but still carried a little bit of that New York original design.

28:10.523 –> 28:12.923
All right, so now don’t flag me, people out there.

28:12.943 –> 28:13.884
Don’t flame me on this one.

28:13.904 –> 28:19.765
But I think the first Waldorf-Hilton combo was in Orlando at Bonnet Creek.

28:20.065 –> 28:20.705
I think so, too.

28:21.185 –> 28:23.425
Yeah, and I love how they come together.

28:23.445 –> 28:35.488
And again, it’s a case of, like with the residential, having two properties that have their extreme own identity but complement each other in a cohesive way so people don’t go, what was that, right?

28:35.688 –> 28:35.948
Correct.

28:36.508 –> 28:36.748
Correct.

28:36.768 –> 28:37.929
So this is Hilton Cancun.

28:37.949 –> 28:39.550
So this is a sister property to it.

28:39.870 –> 28:42.972
You can tell it’s a completely different loop, but they’re connected by ballrooms.

28:43.593 –> 28:45.694
So it was the connection of ballrooms between the two.

28:45.714 –> 28:46.875
This is massive.

28:47.235 –> 28:50.718
The amount of individuals that they have slated to come to this hotel.

28:50.778 –> 28:53.940
And it’s just been booked since the day it opened.

28:54.000 –> 28:56.201
It’s been a huge success.

28:56.301 –> 28:59.964
So once again, they were concerned about the hurricane element.

28:59.984 –> 29:04.787
So in Tulum that you noticed, it was more set back so we could open it up more.

29:05.207 –> 29:06.208
This is, you know,

29:06.828 –> 29:29.587
less than 100 feet from the beach it’s right there so they had to be careful with they had to close this in more as you can see like the Waldorf had to be closed in versus the openness that you saw with Tulum once again all local materials um totally different space totally different design and what I like is each one is different the Conrad looks different than the Waldorf which looks different than the Tulum by the same ownership group which is great

29:29.707 –> 29:41.181
Yeah, I mean, they all look, yeah, but they all, and what’s great is they resonate with me because they’re all super distinct and none of them have that fungible kind of a look that could be in any city anywhere.

29:41.221 –> 29:44.144
So here’s a guest room at the Hilton.

29:44.665 –> 29:47.649
Yeah, and with the Hilton, you can see it’s a resort, so we make sure there’s no carpet.

29:48.770 –> 29:53.593
Making sure that there’s hard floors with the wetness and the sand and everything that’s happening.

29:53.894 –> 29:56.455
But once again, I got to stop you right there.

29:56.516 –> 29:56.896
One second.

29:56.936 –> 29:59.398
I’m sorry, because I love the floors so much.

29:59.738 –> 30:02.280
I’m sure they’re I’m sure they’re not real wood.

30:02.300 –> 30:04.982
I’m sure it’s like an LVT substance or something like that.

30:05.362 –> 30:08.505
But it looks such high quality.

30:08.805 –> 30:15.230
And I think about old school Mexico resorts and Caribbean resorts that would have horrible tile floors and all of that grouting and stuff.

30:15.530 –> 30:21.982
And it made it look old and cheap, where this just by having the essence of the floor, I think, uplifts the whole feeling.

30:23.098 –> 30:48.648
exactly exactly these the hilton was um porcelain tile so everyone knows on this podcast but the waldorf and the conrad were all natural stone because it’s so readily available it’s great yeah wow that’s uh that’s pretty uh impressive all right so let’s just look at a boutique hotel before we run uh over on all of our time over here this is the uh dagny boston i’m in uh waltham today but next time i come up i think i’m gonna go check out uh this property

30:49.008 –> 30:55.592
First, tell me a little bit about the property itself so it can inform us on what we’re looking at.

30:56.293 –> 31:01.636
Yeah, so it’s an adaptive reuse project, but I think it’s important for you to see another kind of change.

31:02.236 –> 31:06.179
It’s housed in Boston’s first Art Deco skyscraper, which is very interesting.

31:07.039 –> 31:17.206
It’s the former Battery March building, which was an office building converted to a Wyndham in 1999, just so everyone knows, and later a Hilton, and now an independent, which is fantastic.

31:17.506 –> 31:26.335
So basically taking all of this and making it have this boutique feel, which you can see is different than the other stuff that you saw on the West Coast in Mexico.

31:27.056 –> 31:35.805
And bringing in that kind of Boston feel, having a relationship and tie to the building and the historical art deco aspect, but modernizing it.

31:35.845 –> 31:37.667
We didn’t want to do art deco everywhere.

31:38.087 –> 31:39.869
The operator didn’t as well.

31:39.889 –> 31:40.429
I get it.

31:41.090 –> 31:41.551
I get it.

31:41.731 –> 31:42.192
I love it.

31:42.472 –> 31:43.313
Yeah.

31:43.454 –> 31:48.621
As a New Yorker going to Rockefeller Center, I mean, that’s classic Art Deco look.

31:49.262 –> 31:57.454
And I see the flourishes of it, but you’re not dwelling in that as your overall thematic in my opinion.

31:58.007 –> 31:58.247
Correct.

31:58.808 –> 31:59.028
Right.

31:59.168 –> 31:59.328
Right.

31:59.388 –> 32:01.770
Bringing it back, showing elements of it.

32:01.910 –> 32:02.130
Right.

32:02.190 –> 32:04.711
But making this modern because the travelers are modern.

32:04.731 –> 32:05.972
They want to see new things.

32:05.992 –> 32:08.594
They want to see new design, especially with these independents.

32:09.174 –> 32:14.098
They want it to feel cozy, timeless, like we always talked about, but then bring in certain elements.

32:14.178 –> 32:14.398
Right.

32:14.998 –> 32:16.119
Yeah, it really does.

32:16.139 –> 32:17.320
I’m just going to go back to this.

32:17.380 –> 32:19.561
If you look at the logo, the logo nails it.

32:19.661 –> 32:20.422
And I think it tells you.

32:21.495 –> 32:27.763
It’s the quintessential explanation of what your experience is going to be like at that property.

32:27.843 –> 32:29.665
I think it’s fantastic.

32:29.725 –> 32:30.646
All right.

32:30.686 –> 32:32.088
Let’s just go through this real quick.

32:32.709 –> 32:33.990
Ocean Club St.

32:34.311 –> 32:34.671
Barthes.

32:34.731 –> 32:35.432
This is beautiful.

32:35.472 –> 32:37.655
Again, this restaurant’s outside for the most part.

32:38.117 –> 32:38.397
Correct.

32:38.457 –> 32:39.918
So this was a COVID project.

32:39.938 –> 32:40.658
It was lovely.

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So many ups and downs of product not being available.

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But what was nice on this one, it was a full, it’s a great club.

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It was emulating a yacht, as you can see, with the design aesthetic and the look and feel.

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This opened this past year.

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What’s nice about it, it has a nice bar that you see to the right.

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It does tie to the ocean that you see in the background.

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It feels very natural, right?

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It has this really nice feel, but it still feels like a club.

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Right.

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Yeah.

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And the way that the wood is done in this image here, the horizontal wood, it feels very yachty.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, that was the inspiration.

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Yeah, and it works.

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And if you look right by the kitchen, it almost looks like the top of a cruise ship, that table that’s there with the funnels and stuff.

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This is really, really nice as well.

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Just very clean, smooth lines.

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Pretty awesome.

33:40.408 –> 33:41.068
Megan, so…

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How do you think about educating yourself so you could bring so much to your game every single day and create something that’s new instead of just being derivative of other things you’ve done in the past?

33:53.203 –> 33:53.463
Correct.

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So what we try to do is, it’s a good question.

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We, there’s so many, yes, the internet’s amazing, right?

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There’s so many elements, but a lot of people we’re finding with some of our young designers, Glenn, is it’s always just digital on the computer.

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They actually haven’t visited a site and looked at it and walked around.

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So what we do at the company is every three months, we’ll actually go do a tour locally of stuff we’ve installed and

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Give a tour of anything that’s new that others have installed.

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Any new openings we make sure everyone goes to.

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So you can see visual instead of just digital, right?

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There’s a lot digital, but to actually touch, feel, and see in person, I think it’s very important.

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And something that it’s a big push from us that everyone’s part of the job site visits that they see that whole process, right?

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Well, you know, I’m just like looking around here.

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And one of the things that I really love to do is I love the tactile nature, right?

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I love touching the walls and all of that to see how it feels and how it all interacts with each other and to see whether or not it works or doesn’t work.

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Fortunately, all of these projects that you showed us today are absolutely beautiful.

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Any final words to share with us today on something we might not have covered?

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No, I think it was great today.

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There’s just, like I said, there’s so many changes happening in our industry, right?

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So many changes after COVID, so many changes on how we work, how we collaborate, you know, technology, you know, next year, Glenn, I think you’ll have someone talking about AI, honestly.

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It’s just very fascinating.

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So how do you see AI then affecting your job in the future?

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I don’t necessarily believe it’s going to take jobs away, but I think it can be used to enhance and speed up certain things.

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Well, I’ll give you a quick example.

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We’re working with a program right now.

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I think it’s great.

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We think it’s great because it actually gives another element.

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You know, we’re working on a project in New York and we don’t have existing photos of the hotel.

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But if you type in, you have to type in certain keywords, it’ll pull it up in AI.

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It’ll show you the room.

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It’ll collect the photo of it.

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And then you could just say new screen and describe what screen you want, like behind a headboard.

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It’ll pull up 10 different options.

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It’s really fascinating, right?

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So there’s, yes, good and bad, but I think we all need to embrace it because you have access to things a little bit quicker than we did before.

36:16.688 –> 36:21.550
You have to work through it, but I think it’s really a fascinating way that’s moving forward.

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We still will all have our jobs.

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It’s just another way to work with technology.

36:26.333 –> 36:26.653
Awesome.

36:27.113 –> 36:27.873
I love it.

36:28.113 –> 36:32.736
Megan, how can we learn more about HBA and your organization?

36:32.876 –> 36:33.056
Sorry.

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We have an Instagram account, everyone.

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And then we also have our website, HBA.com, which is fantastic, where we post daily any projects we’re working on and activities.

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Yeah.

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Well, how fortunate are you to have such great material to put on an Instagram account?

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I just keep putting up pictures of myself.

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I’ve got negative 12 followers.

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I don’t know what happened.

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Oh, well.

36:55.633 –> 36:56.454
Megan, do me a favor.

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Hang out backstage while I wrap up.

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Thank you so much for being here.

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I want to thank all of you folks for being here today.

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How informative.

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And again, I will put the PowerPoint into the show notes so you can follow along with us.

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And while you’re following along with us, if you are listening to our audio feed, what are you thinking?

37:14.625 –> 37:16.927
Download that wherever you get your podcasts.

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And if you are listening to audio, why not take a look at us?

37:20.669 –> 37:27.154
We’re on NoVacancyNews.com for all of your shows, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and of course, the YouTube.

37:27.254 –> 37:28.254
Thanks so much for being here.

37:28.475 –> 37:31.056
We’ll see you tomorrow with another exciting episode.

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Oh, tomorrow we got Chip Rogers, CEO and President of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

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Can’t wait for that one.

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Until then, see you later.