SH Hotels & Resorts SH operates 1 Hotels, Baccarat Hotels, and Treehouse Hotels and is one of the fastest growing hotel companies today. It’s run by CEO Raul Leal. We discuss the company’s DNA, founder Barry Sternlicht, how to create a sustainable hotel without being preachy and much more.

Video Transcript

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Hey, everybody.

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Thanks for tuning in to a very special episode of No Vacancy live on tape.

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You’re watching it live, but I’ve gone on to do some other stuff.

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So today is super exciting because I have with us the incredible Raul Leal, the CEO of SH Hotels, one of the most exciting brands coming around today.

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Raul, so great to see you.

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It’s great to see you, and thank you for the amazing introduction.

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My mother would be so happy.

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make my mom really happy.

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Well, that’s good.

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I’m still trying to figure out how to make my mother happy, but since I’m Jewish, that’ll never happen.

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No, she’s Cuban.

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It’s the same thing.

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So I’ll take anything I can get.

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By the way, I came down here yesterday.

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I had some great Cuban food last night.

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So that was really great.

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Some good, fresh food.

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So I really, I really love that.

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But I’m sitting here, we’re on the beach in Miami Beach and stuff, and we’ve got this beautiful hotel here.

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And it’s exciting to see you really participate in a company that’s new, that’s exciting, and that seems relevant.

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And I guess a good place to start for all of you out there is why don’t you just share a little bit about the difference of what SH Hotels and what its DNA is all about.

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Oh, absolutely.

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And again, thanks for being here.

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Yeah, for sure.

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This is the first great weather day we’ve had in 13 days in Miami.

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It’s got to be about you.

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Hey, you’re welcome.

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Well, you know, I am the, what is that called?

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Main star syndrome.

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I’ve been working on suffering from that.

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Well done.

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And the glasses look great too.

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Thank you.

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So look, SH is a company that was created by, of course, the legendary Barry Sternlake.

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And it really started with the One Hotels brand, which is where we’re sitting right now in South Beach.

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One of the first mission built sustainable hotel brands.

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And I’ll speak to that a little bit.

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And two of our other brands are the Super Deluxe Baccarat Hotel.

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And one hotel’s little sister or brother, however you want to call it, called the Treehouse brand, which is about to start to escalate.

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Already opened in Europe.

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Second one opened in Europe this year.

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First one coming to the U.S.

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this year.

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And then all over the place.

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But it all started with Barry.

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So Barry had a great idea, a vision in the late 2009 or something.

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He saw that, you know, the world, the sustainable conscience of the world was about to awaken.

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And he said, I think in the future, the people from W, the brand he helped created, are going to grow up.

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And they’re going to want a little bit more responsible product and went forth and a hotel product that gives back and is focused on sustainability.

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And then he created one hotels.

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All right.

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So I want to go back to W just for a second, because I think it really frames where we are today, because I think this company right now where you’re at.

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is very similar to where W was after it was around for like four or five years, right?

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Not a lot of volume in properties, but everybody seems to know what it is, right?

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And I never heard it put that way before, where it’s like, where are people gonna go when they grow up?

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And with a lot of the mainstream brands, I’m like, you’re focusing so much on millennials, what happens when they get older?

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Yeah, and I think Barry just wanted a place to hang out later.

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So that’s why he said, let me just create something amazing and I want to hang out there later.

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And that’s actually exactly what’s happened.

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So with W Hotels, and I’m going into this a little bit to set the stage because we have a lot of younger people out there that didn’t live through it like we did.

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Really kind of, everyone thought the hotel industry was supposed to be a certain way.

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But then he looked at it and says, no.

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And he’s why.

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Beds are great today.

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Why we don’t have flower bed spreads anymore.

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While hotels are like social hubs again, like they were in the early 1900s and that sort of stuff.

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So it’s interesting to see how he’s kind of like, what do people want to do now?

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And I also feel that this is more upscale than what W was supposed to be.

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But then that kind of got dragged up to the luxury level from, you know, customers wanting it.

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I didn’t think, look, when he created Starwood and brought together Weston and Sheridan at the same time, and then that was such a groundbreaking event for the hotel business.

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But I think he saw that he had seen some of the companies like Morgans, Kempton,

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and companies like that that were doing something unique, that were appealing to a different consumer.

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A consumer that wanted something different.

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Maybe a consumer that wasn’t about the points, just wanted a real experience.

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And that’s what he created with W, except he added the points there too, because they were a big legacy brand.

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But essentially what he was trying to do is try to help people with their aspirations.

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People that have aspirational thoughts of what

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you know, they wanted their life to be not cookie cutter, didn’t want to be told what to do, a bit rebellious, you know, founded in, or grounded in music, entertainment, you know, pop culture, and that’s what W was, and they delivered, I mean, exceptionally well.

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I used to, W was definitely my favorite brand, and I stayed at

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The WLex.

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Which had the tiniest rooms in the world.

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I think it was at 53rd-ish or something, right?

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Smallest rooms in the world, but it was hip as hell.

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And as a result of that, I came back to Miami.

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This is about 1999 or something.

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What were you doing in the hospitality industry at that point, to give some context?

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So I was running a company called Tecton Hospitality.

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Yeah, I remember that.

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And Tecton, with my partner Richard Millard, we had about 35 branded hotels, all kinds.

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You should know, Richard is like the classiest guy.

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Loved him.

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He is.

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Another quirky Englishman named Richard.

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They seem to be in my life.

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Richard Branson, Richard Millard.

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And so we were doing really, really well.

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And I said to Richard, I said, you know, the boutique hotel thing is going to catch on.

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because people like the fact that it’s differentiated, and frankly, a lot of people may be tired of the legacy hotels.

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Richard and I did not agree on that, by the way, but we pushed an initiative forward anyway that became Desires Hotels, which we added another 15 lifestyle hotels at the time, and became a pure lifestyle hotel management company.

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But it was the inspiration from people like Barry and Schrager that pushed us to do that.

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Because just a different vision for the hotel business in general.

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And it’s kind of continued.

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As you know, the lifestyle hotel and the boutique business has grown incrementally since then.

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I would say not just incrementally, exponentially.

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All of the major brands suddenly woke up.

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And they said, oh, my God, we’ve got to get into this space.

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And since around 2009 or so, we saw the creation of short, soft brands.

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Then, you know, even more independent-type collections and that sort of thing.

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It was a brilliant move, by the way, by, let’s say, Marriott doing autograph and saying, okay, we’re going to give you the distribution piece of it.

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Now, you can kind of create your own lifestyle boutique hotel in your image.

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You know, which has worked out really successfully for a lot of people.

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Right, but still tap into that amazing database of people that they have.

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Amazing distribution and new customers that you’d never be able to get there.

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And I thought it was a brilliant idea.

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I really was.

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So going back, you had brands like, you know, you mentioned Morgans like Delano and Mondrian, really kind of reinventing what hospitality could be.

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Then we talked about the W component that kind of brought that idea to more of mainstream hospitality.

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And I think in the last 10 years or so, we’ve been seeing a lot more focus on sustainability, but

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When COVID hit, people forgot about it.

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Now it’s coming back, I think, in a much better place than it’s ever been.

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I think folks are really incorporating that sort of stuff into their lifestyle.

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In fact, I just bought a Lomi.

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So I’m doing some home composting now and stuff like that.

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I just put solar panels on my house.

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And I love the new electric bill.

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I bet you do.

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Close to nothing, which is great.

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I’m loving that.

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But it’s terrific.

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But I think, look, as Barry had thought, I think the sustainable conscience of the world started to really come alive.

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And when we look at one hotel, we always say, you know, the world is beautiful and we want to keep it that way.

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So his idea was to, why don’t we draw to sustainability through design.

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Through biophilic design.

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biophilic design is the idea of bringing the outside inside with designs that are focused on nature that’s right and and you know and it’s way more than that you know for us i mean besides everything that we do on the design side incorporating reclaim the local materials everywhere and uh stuff that reminds you about nature you know we also we also have the systems behind the scenes that you know monitor our emissions and all the programs that we need to do to be responsible and

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hopefully decrease emissions as one property at a time.

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That piece of it for One Hotels is pretty significant to our customers.

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As a matter of fact, I believe the statistic is 89% of our customers stay with us because of our mission, our sustainability mission.

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And 56% of our customers are female.

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right so uh that’s a big part of our component of business so this kind of this this really surprises me because i hear a lot about people saying that they would prefer to stay in hotels that focus more on the environment and sustainability but i haven’t actually seen any real proof because everyone in my life is like that’s good but i got to stay over here

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right well it depends on what we do it’s more than just first of all we’re not we’re not uh… actors we’re not uh… doom and gloom righty you know we’re trying to say look nature’s beautiful let’s clean up the planet but it’s also about choices inside one hotels uh… it’s pretty programs plus programming going on that just nature activations and wellness or whatever else but

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music and entertainment, educational things and different types of programs, lots of involvement with the community.

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So it feels like when you come to this hotel, you have choices.

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Look, if you want to get in the corner and read a book somewhere next to some beautiful plants and nice greenery, that’s great.

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But if you want to go out on the rooftop and rock out, you can also do that.

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So I think in today’s environment, especially for all hotels, what’s going to make hotels continue to be relevant is I think they do have to provide choices to consumers.

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And if they don’t have them inside the hotels, they at least need to partner in their communities with those businesses that do.

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Yeah, and that makes a lot of sense.

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When you walk into the lobby here, there’s a giant blackboard that has all of the activities for January on it.

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Restaurant hours, you know, morning yoga, this musical events that are happening on the weekends, which I thought is pretty cool as well.

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But I like the whole notion of, you know, you can stay how you stay while also doing something right for the environment.

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That’s really important.

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And that programming aspect is really important to give.

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Because I don’t know how I’m going to feel if I’m coming here and I say I want to take four days of vacation, right?

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One day I may want to read.

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One day I may want to be more active.

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And I don’t really want to necessarily leave the property.

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So to have it all here, I think is a great way to make people happier while getting more money out of them.

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Look, as long as people enjoy the experience, they’re going to pay the rate.

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And I think that applies to any product, right?

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As long as the customer takes it off the shelf, then loves it, uses it, loves the product, they’re going to continue coming back for more.

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Yeah, I completely agree with that.

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So I noticed the sustainability aspect in the rooms.

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You’re right.

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It feels, no pun intended, very natural.

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It doesn’t feel forced, right?

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What I loved about it is you walk in and I don’t just have a desk made in China.

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It’s a piece of reclaimed wood.

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That’s right.

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And that kind of sets the notion for what the overall experience is going to be.

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And then you have larger touches and more subtle touches about how you’re focusing on the environment.

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I’ll let you speak in a second, but I was excited about one thing that seems completely silly to be excited about, but that’s just the kind of guy I am.

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You have the in-room coffee makers, which is a great machine.

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But you don’t just have a card with how to do it.

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It’s printed on the napkins, which are recycled napkins already.

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So you’re getting rid of that plastic and a piece of collateral that doesn’t need to be in the room and kind of making it a little bit cooler and more interesting for the guest.

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Yeah, and little things that our customers really like is like you saw the filtered water station in every single room.

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I mean, that’s a big deal for a lot of our customers.

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Look, they are happy to pay more.

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for amenities like that, you know, that makes sense.

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And I think what we’re trying to do is simplify sustainability for people because it gets so convoluted.

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Yeah, totally.

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I’m glad you simplified it because I got confused.

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I’m like, I walk in the room, I’m like, why is there no bottled water in here?

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I’m like, oh wait, I have as much water as I want that’s triple filtered.

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Plastics and things like that.

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Look, we still have a lot of work to do.

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Because there’s things that you have to monitor today very closely.

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Supply chain, where do these things really come from?

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So we’re dead serious about it.

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But I think the face-forwarding to our consumers is about making sure that they’re enjoying the experience.

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And hopefully, you know, we’re probably one of the only companies that’s going to say this, we hope that others copy us.

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Because, look, I travel a lot around the world, and I’ll give you a great example.

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I stayed at a, I won’t say the name, but I stayed at a,

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branded property the other day for a wedding in Orlando.

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A lovely hotel.

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You know, in Orlando there’s lots of lakes behind the hotels.

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When I looked down from my room… Would you say this was a grand lake?

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I’m not going to say where it was.

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You can’t get me no matter what.

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Because I’m respectful to my peers.

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When I looked down from my room, there was like, you know, a hundred yards of plastic.

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And plastic cups on the water.

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Things like that.

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Right there on this lake, which I’m looking down from my room and I’m thinking…

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And I actually did go down to the front desk and tell them, I said, look, I think the management should be aware of it,

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You know, in an hour, the team members could have gone out there, cleaned it up, and made it part of a practice to keep the lake clean and whatever else.

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But I think it’s about drawing attention to those things as you travel around the planet.

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Not every hotel needs to be net zero.

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We don’t have a target for net zero for every hotel.

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Just clean up the areas around you.

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You know, one hotel at a time is our perspective.

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I like that.

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One hotel.

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Is that kind of where the name comes from?

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Yeah, for sure.

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You know, one hotel is also…

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to derive from the concept that it’s

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One planet, one people.

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And then we should all be looking out for ourselves.

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We need to keep this place clean, for God’s sake.

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Yeah, I like it.

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And what I really like, again, about it is you’re not being preachy about it.

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You’re just going about your business and setting an example.

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And educating.

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There’s lots of educating going on and podcasts that we put out and lots of articles about it.

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But it’s really up to you to decide what you do that.

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Internally, we do quite a bit of training with the team members.

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And our hope with our team members is the following, that they’ll learn enough to take it home with them.

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And they’ll put some of the practices in place, just simple things that you can do at home just to offset your carbon footprint.

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And that’s hopefully our thought.

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So how do you think about then branding?

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Because this has been a big chunk of your professional career.

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First with Desires and Barry’s experience with W, your experience with Virgin prior to this.

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know your consumer.

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I mean, the consumer today is, gosh, changing so much.

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Multi-generational, multi-ethnic, I mean, multinational, you name it, right?

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So I think today, more than anything, data is king.

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but understanding what it is your consumer wants and then head it in that direction.

14:55.920 –> 15:02.022
When you say what your consumer wants, then you’re looking at a psychographic slice, right?

15:02.042 –> 15:02.662
Yeah, for sure.

15:03.102 –> 15:09.764
And once you look at that slice, I mean, taking some of the data, and look, in some cases, I think Steve Jobs said it, he said,

15:11.087 –> 15:37.002
sometimes the consumers don’t know what they want right and you kind of have to give it to them yeah that’s true but you need some data to understand you know what inkling they have in what direction and that one uh i think we do a lot of we do a lot of focus groups with our customers kind of understanding what would you like to see next what are some of the things that we’re doing better on the sustainability front is it enough what else should we be doing so it’s really about listening to the customers and seeing are they having a great experience what’s your feedback

15:37.082 –> 15:46.447
But I also think it’s connecting the dots and giving them things that they didn’t know that they wanted, but it turns out that they actually need.

15:46.547 –> 15:52.331
And I think when you talk about Apple and some of the things that came out of there,

15:53.331 –> 15:57.833
Like nobody needed an iPod when that first came out, right?

15:57.873 –> 16:00.554
Nobody knew about it, but it like reinvented stuff.

16:00.574 –> 16:05.317
And I think it took some of the ideas that were floating out there in the universe and put them together in a unique way.

16:05.717 –> 16:07.798
And that’s kind of what I think you’re trying to achieve here as well.

16:07.998 –> 16:08.398
And I think so.

16:08.418 –> 16:14.441
But I think, again, the broader community of travel is going to be very specific about where they stay.

16:15.071 –> 16:24.423
depending on whether or not the hotels that they’re staying at have a real mission or purpose, or if they see that they’re helping out with their communities, contributing back to their communities, contributing back to the planet.

16:24.923 –> 16:31.171
I think if you talk to the majority of customers that we speak to today, that’s going to be a big decision for them in the future, whether they stay there or not.

16:31.491 –> 16:31.711

16:31.772 –> 16:33.414
So, you know, I think

16:34.468 –> 16:37.789
It’s unfortunate, but sustainability gets highly weaponized today.

16:37.950 –> 16:38.330

16:38.350 –> 16:38.830

16:38.950 –> 16:39.630

16:40.030 –> 16:42.031
Well, everything is weaponized politically these days.

16:42.271 –> 16:47.434
And people make a lot of claims and things that they don’t do later.

16:47.454 –> 16:54.457
I think if you’re not transparent with today’s customer who has so much transparency, I think you’ll be a dead brand in no time.

16:54.677 –> 16:54.897

16:55.377 –> 17:03.521
And I think that a lot of that disconnect happens with older people that get thoughts

17:04.161 –> 17:08.645
from other people that are in their same age group, demographic, and stuff like that.

17:08.705 –> 17:14.870
So they’ve created this, you know, I hate to use political terms, they’re using a bubble around them that they don’t really see what’s happening.

17:15.211 –> 17:25.079
My kids, I have twins that are just about 20 years old, so they’re firmly in Gen Z. They see the world very differently than the way we saw the world when we were 20.

17:25.219 –> 17:28.242
We didn’t know anything about sustainability back then.

17:28.482 –> 17:30.763
And they have all the information at their fingerprints.

17:31.103 –> 17:37.966
I used to remember having to look up an encyclopedia or something to find stuff, but now today it’s right in the palm of your hand, right?

17:38.907 –> 17:42.708
Yeah, I’m sorry, just thinking about my world book encyclopedias that I had back there.

17:42.728 –> 17:44.949
So I have to go through those things to look stuff up.

17:44.969 –> 17:46.390
I’m like, now I’m like in 10 seconds.

17:46.750 –> 17:48.371
Knowledge is power.

17:48.391 –> 17:48.691
For sure.

17:48.911 –> 17:52.972
So how do you think about brands overall in the hospitality universe?

17:53.012 –> 17:54.053
How you fit in?

17:54.593 –> 17:58.594
And one step further, how do you maintain that over time?

17:58.614 –> 18:03.736
Because we’ve seen a lot of good brands that were very popular that kind of lost it.

18:03.816 –> 18:04.676
Some were able to come back.

18:04.816 –> 18:12.559
One notable note was I felt like 15 years ago, Holiday Inn was on the precipice of irrelevancy with the American public.

18:12.879 –> 18:15.920
But IHG called it 10 different names back then.

18:16.901 –> 18:23.668
came in, put over a billion dollars into it, reinvented the whole thing, and it reentered the hospitality zeitgeist, right?

18:24.509 –> 18:34.579
Yeah, so look, I think today, the big brands specifically, and I’ve been an owner of a bunch of franchise hotels, and I’m a fan, but I think today there’s so many brands that

18:35.077 –> 18:39.418
and that they have to really isolate what the differentiators are between all these brands.

18:39.758 –> 18:41.799
Look, I’m confused, and I’m in the industry.

18:41.819 –> 18:42.119
We all are.

18:42.139 –> 18:46.580
So I know the consumer’s confused, and the more brands you have, the less relevant that your mother brand becomes.

18:46.640 –> 18:59.544
So I think that some of these bigger brands have to figure out a way to really isolate what makes sense for their consumer instead of rolling out a different brand every two months or every two years, and confusing the consumer even more.

18:59.804 –> 19:00.004

19:00.285 –> 19:04.148
And I think listening to the consumer and making sure what is relevant to the consumer today.

19:04.248 –> 19:06.810
What are the important things that matter to the consumer today?

19:07.190 –> 19:14.536
Some of the things that I’ve been talking about, you know, certainly sustainability, I mean, governance in your communities and making sure that you’re involved in things like that really at the local level.

19:14.576 –> 19:27.127
But it’s almost like you have to, the big brands today need to think like an independent brand if they can and allowing the local properties to make lots of decisions that, you know, can’t be made from headquarters that’s a thousand miles away.

19:27.367 –> 19:51.729
i think it’s much trickier for the mega corporations out there because not only they have thousands and thousands of properties but as public companies their goals are sometimes very different than what a general manager’s goal might be for creating an experience at the property level i think so and look a big part of it uh you know i’ve always been a big consumer uh employee at it advocate i think uh

19:52.745 –> 19:58.008
The biggest challenge is saying, how do we get people really super pumped about the industry again?

19:58.128 –> 19:58.288

19:58.628 –> 20:04.492
In my opinion, it’s perfect industry for the times because the younger generations now love to travel.

20:04.972 –> 20:05.792
That’s what they love to do.

20:05.812 –> 20:07.934
They love to go here, they love to go here, they love to go here.

20:07.954 –> 20:09.855
So there’s hotels all over the world.

20:09.895 –> 20:20.981
So if we were able to figure out a way where globally the hotel industry could synchronize a bit all this from a talent pool perspective, it’s really the best industry in the world for today’s people because they can work from anywhere.

20:21.261 –> 20:24.684
And they can go work in Greece today and be back in New York tomorrow, right?

20:24.704 –> 20:25.525
That’s so funny, man.

20:25.545 –> 20:28.988
We were just talking about this in the last couple of weeks on No Vacancy.

20:29.188 –> 20:30.969
And we talked a lot about digital nomads.

20:31.189 –> 20:34.212
And I’m like, why not have nomadic hospitality workers?

20:34.292 –> 20:34.472

20:34.772 –> 20:37.795
You guys could hire somebody that could work here for six months.

20:37.835 –> 20:39.516
Then they could go to Hawaii for six months.

20:39.576 –> 20:41.278
Then they could go to London for six months.

20:41.298 –> 20:42.219
And we’re doing that.

20:42.239 –> 20:42.359

20:42.739 –> 20:44.099
The industry got behind that.

20:44.140 –> 20:44.980
I didn’t know you were doing that.

20:45.000 –> 20:45.680
That’s fascinating.

20:45.700 –> 20:56.204
Yeah, we’re totally doing that and it’d be great if the industry got behind that and somehow we figured out a way, at least in the States or whatever, to get people to move around from company to company and utilize resources because what happens is,

20:57.648 –> 20:58.329
you lose people.

20:58.409 –> 21:00.410
They start to go to other industries at the end of the day.

21:00.430 –> 21:07.076
And I think our industry today delivers what people want to live for today, which is seeing new and different experiences all over the world.

21:07.156 –> 21:13.121
Yeah, now we had on No Vacancy last week, Chip Rogers, of course, he’s the president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

21:13.421 –> 21:20.186
And he was saying people are coming back to work, but of course, not at the degree that we would like right now.

21:20.607 –> 21:25.291
So I love your ideas about engaging them in a very different way, because

21:25.851 –> 21:32.033
I don’t see that happening at restaurant companies necessarily or retail companies necessarily.

21:32.153 –> 21:37.575
So how are you engaging your employees to make sure that you don’t have the 80% turnover that the rest of the industry has?

21:38.036 –> 21:39.416
We definitely don’t have that kind of turnover.

21:39.456 –> 21:40.216
I’ll speak to that in a minute.

21:40.257 –> 21:42.958
But look, it’s a broader way of thinking about it.

21:43.438 –> 21:47.799
We can’t just say, well, let’s engage our employees to come back to the industry and put out a few campaigns.

21:47.879 –> 21:48.700
Let’s think about it this way.

21:49.720 –> 21:53.682
Since COVID, you now have remote work possibilities that we didn’t have before.

21:53.922 –> 21:54.082

21:54.582 –> 21:58.304
So let’s talk about the accounting and sales teams inside the hotels.

21:58.884 –> 22:02.926
These are people that in some cases may not have to be inside the hotel that can work remote.

22:03.126 –> 22:03.326

22:03.506 –> 22:06.007
So instead of having offices for all those people, for example,

22:06.741 –> 22:12.665
Why wouldn’t we take those spaces and create much better employee areas everywhere for everybody, for the people that are there all the time?

22:13.105 –> 22:20.270
The servers, the engineers, the housekeepers, the front desk people, and provide better services inside the hotel in the same piece of real estate.

22:20.390 –> 22:20.550

22:20.610 –> 22:23.932
Without getting rid of one hotel room, which is of course what every developer is going to say, right?

22:23.952 –> 22:24.493
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

22:26.613 –> 22:30.337
200-square-foot cafeteria for a 400-room hotel that has 400 employees.

22:30.797 –> 22:33.480
Why don’t we take a bunch of those offices and make them real employee areas?

22:33.880 –> 22:40.307
Take a little bit from the tech side on that, where the worksplaces inside a tech company are just magnificent and fabulous and whatever else.

22:40.327 –> 22:43.530
I was thinking Las Vegas casinos, because they do a great job back at house.

22:43.891 –> 22:45.372
Of course they do, and they have the space to do it.

22:45.392 –> 22:47.675
But I’m thinking any property would do that, because today…

22:48.415 –> 22:49.897
you can have people work remote.

22:49.917 –> 22:52.900
You don’t need the same amount of offices, but that’s just one way to do it, right?

22:52.920 –> 22:58.886
From our perspective, our industry, our turnover is way lower than the industry.

22:59.426 –> 23:02.909
People that work for us are definitely attracted to the mission of the company.

23:03.690 –> 23:04.752
the same as our consumers.

23:04.872 –> 23:05.032

23:05.392 –> 23:14.744
So if they’re saying we have a real mission and we stick to it, everything that we do is guided by the purpose of the organization, that’s how we run the thread of operations, culture, training, what for.

23:14.845 –> 23:20.051
So I think companies today, whether in the hotel business or not, if they’re not driven by real purpose,

23:20.652 –> 23:22.413
You’re going to have a hard time keeping people there.

23:22.433 –> 23:23.154
You’ll hire people.

23:23.214 –> 23:23.394

23:23.754 –> 23:25.376
But they’ll come and go and there’ll be an open door.

23:25.476 –> 23:27.618
Well, that’s a really important word to say.

23:27.998 –> 23:28.718
Purpose, right?

23:28.738 –> 23:30.300
We don’t talk enough about that.

23:30.360 –> 23:31.421
We talk about engagement.

23:31.821 –> 23:33.963
You can engage people and make them feel good about themselves.

23:34.003 –> 23:38.486
But if they don’t have that internal sense of reason for being there and doing.

23:38.506 –> 23:38.966

23:39.267 –> 23:39.507

23:39.527 –> 23:39.927

23:40.187 –> 23:43.210
So how do you make people feel that they’re actually contributing?

23:43.230 –> 23:43.370

23:43.905 –> 23:47.830
Well, first of all, we do a lot of talking about it.

23:47.970 –> 23:50.313
It’s just not a poster on a wall.

23:50.513 –> 23:53.057
Like most people, they have all their values on the wall, whatever.

23:53.077 –> 23:56.701
I just have the cat hanging in there.

23:56.741 –> 24:00.286
We’re thinking, okay, that’s what’s going to inspire you is that poster on the wall.

24:00.346 –> 24:01.848
It’s so many different acts of things.

24:02.734 –> 24:09.443
education, it’s celebrations, it’s allowing them freedom to go out into the communities and live those values.

24:09.524 –> 24:16.293
And here at the One Hotel South Beach, we’re continually doing community beach club cleanups as a team, things like that.

24:16.353 –> 24:17.835
But the hotels are fully empowered

24:18.556 –> 24:40.834
to do those things there’s no one program behind it we’re just do it you know x amount of community hours a year that we want to do and hit as a target we always exceed them but it’s really about getting people inspired behind that vision and meaning it but it’s not about a bunch of posters on the wall right if you think your values from home office posted on the wall are going to make a difference purpose you know without a process behind it

24:41.830 –> 25:03.745
is worth the paper it’s written on yeah so it’s really about continually reinforcing the purpose of the company i love i i love that and once you have all of those things in place yeah then they’re able to focus on the customers and make sure they’re really happy which then feeds into the overall branding which feeds into the ability for you to expand to more places around the world right no doubt

25:03.905 –> 25:07.666
So that’s my not-so-subtle way of getting to development portion of this conversation.

25:07.686 –> 25:11.567
I think you have, what, about 15 hotels or something, give or take?

25:11.587 –> 25:15.607
Overall, there’s about 15 hotels in the portfolio right now, including the Baccarata Treehouse as well.

25:15.687 –> 25:21.609
But we have about 20 new under development, minimally, that are coming online in the next three years.

25:21.749 –> 25:22.029

25:22.149 –> 25:27.050
We’re about to make, actually, some announcements in the next couple of weeks on some new developments all over the world.

25:27.110 –> 25:31.291
I think I would say anywhere in between Japan and Dubai and everywhere in between.

25:31.511 –> 25:31.811

25:31.831 –> 25:32.551
So pretty exciting.

25:32.811 –> 25:38.560
So what is that process like in developing a property somewhere around the world with One Hotels?

25:38.848 –> 25:40.649
Very similar, you know, it’s pretty similar.

25:40.669 –> 25:42.550
It’s really about, you know, is it the right partner?

25:42.850 –> 25:43.050

25:43.190 –> 25:45.811
Obviously, you’ve got to look for the right location, you know, for the brands, right?

25:45.831 –> 25:48.632
But the most important thing to us is the partner.

25:48.852 –> 25:49.052

25:49.272 –> 25:50.193
Do we have the right partner?

25:50.233 –> 25:51.533
And the partner has to be like-minded.

25:52.494 –> 25:55.395
So before we do that, we really vet our partners out very clearly.

25:55.495 –> 26:02.018
And there are people that do believe in what we’re doing, sustainability, contributing to the world one hotel at a time, and improving their community.

26:02.038 –> 26:03.398
So that’s really the most important piece of it.

26:03.439 –> 26:04.419
The rest is just paperwork.

26:04.699 –> 26:10.705
So are the developers people that have a lot of personal wealth, pension funds?

26:10.825 –> 26:11.966
How are you looking at that?

26:12.026 –> 26:12.227

26:12.787 –> 26:13.468
And we’re investing.

26:13.768 –> 26:13.928

26:13.968 –> 26:16.471
We’re buying our own stuff through Starwood Capital.

26:16.491 –> 26:16.611

26:17.031 –> 26:17.312
Of course.

26:17.332 –> 26:19.334
So that’s got to be the predominant driver.

26:19.354 –> 26:20.995
It’s a combination of things.

26:21.115 –> 26:24.239
It just depends on the location, the site and what for.

26:24.259 –> 26:28.543
But we have some pretty exciting locations coming up for the brands all over the world.

26:28.843 –> 26:52.761
um are you doing mostly adaptive reuse or are you building some new properties as well both it depends it depends on the market right location right like here for example this is an adaptive reuse building yeah this thing is like a city yeah so rental units you know condominiums pools gyms restaurants anything that you want retail stores yeah you don’t never have to leave a hotel

26:53.061 –> 26:56.665
No, and if it was up to me, I would not for the next few days.

26:56.685 –> 26:58.767
Why don’t you have to leave?

26:59.668 –> 27:00.129
I won’t be.

27:00.649 –> 27:05.895
What advice do you have for some of the younger people out there that want to one day be a CEO of a hotel company?

27:07.722 –> 27:12.445
To be a CEO of a hotel company, I mean, look, it’s a people-driven business.

27:12.605 –> 27:14.767
I mean, you’ve got to love the human race, as I always say.

27:14.847 –> 27:17.949
If you’re going to be in this business, it’s really about serving.

27:18.129 –> 27:18.569
Yeah, totally.

27:18.629 –> 27:23.732
It’s about helping others and, of course, dealing with people every single day.

27:23.852 –> 27:24.713
Not always easy.

27:24.833 –> 27:25.634
No, it’s not.

27:26.134 –> 27:31.617
It’s not always easy, but it’s really a people-driven business that has a real estate component to it.

27:31.778 –> 27:31.998

27:32.098 –> 27:34.980
But I think that, at the end of the day, for any developer out there,

27:35.874 –> 27:41.218
What adds value to your real estate is the culture inside that building.

27:41.458 –> 27:45.942
I mean, it can add so much more value if you really value the culture inside the hotel.

27:46.022 –> 27:49.124
I really think that culture is what leads to better profits.

27:49.284 –> 27:53.027
So how do you create the right culture behind you?

27:53.047 –> 27:59.933
I hear a lot of companies doing this and some are doing a phenomenal job with it, but how do you set the stage for that great culture to happen?

28:00.484 –> 28:23.994
start again start with the purpose first yep that’s and then that purpose has to be embedded in everything that you do your training um the way that you look just simple things the way that you welcome people into the organization the way they work with them the way that you train them you know my perspective is let’s not just train people for the hotel business let’s train them for life right what can we do to help them be better in the next business whatever they choose to do but

28:24.474 –> 28:25.795
We think that’s a great approach.

28:25.875 –> 28:28.337
I’ve been in the industry for a long time, as you know.

28:28.998 –> 28:31.760
Way back when, we were training them to keep them away from Marriott.

28:31.820 –> 28:32.180
Right, yeah.

28:32.500 –> 28:33.881
Or from Hilton or somebody, right?

28:34.242 –> 28:35.022
Or from the other guys.

28:35.082 –> 28:35.282

28:35.382 –> 28:38.024
Today, I think you’re training them just to have a better life.

28:38.225 –> 28:38.785
Educate them.

28:38.825 –> 28:45.390
Find out what they… I meet with our teams all the time, and I say, look, what is it that makes you most uncomfortable?

28:45.970 –> 28:47.912
Whatever discipline, if it’s accounting…

28:48.072 –> 28:48.172

28:48.212 –> 28:48.693

28:48.813 –> 28:48.973

28:49.133 –> 28:50.195
Then dive into that.

28:50.255 –> 28:50.575
Heck yeah.

28:50.635 –> 28:51.216
We can help you.

28:51.256 –> 28:55.421
We have courses and things and education to do it so that you understand a piece of it.

28:55.441 –> 28:57.063
You understand that it’s not brain surgery.

28:57.103 –> 28:57.884
You too can learn it.

28:57.904 –> 29:01.188
It’s going to make you better in life later if you want to run your own business.

29:01.228 –> 29:04.132
So hopefully it’s just about being good to other people.

29:04.212 –> 29:10.816
Not only that, but I think some of our perceived weaknesses could actually turn into your greatest strengths if you put the time and effort into it.

29:11.016 –> 29:18.080
Believe it or not, before I did any public speaking or podcasting and stuff like that, I would be freaked out.

29:18.160 –> 29:20.822
The first speaking gig I had, I just couldn’t handle it.

29:20.862 –> 29:21.883
I never thought I could do it.

29:22.363 –> 29:30.328
But by putting a lot of effort and time into battling the demons that made me think I wasn’t good at it, then I was able to own it, right?

29:31.089 –> 29:31.870
It’s hard work.

29:32.030 –> 29:32.370
Yeah, it is.

29:32.390 –> 29:36.113
I mean, if you want to be good at anything, you’ve got to work hard at it, you know, and set your sights on it.

29:36.233 –> 29:39.816
I was lucky because I decided early on I was going to stay in the hotel business.

29:40.216 –> 29:40.416

29:40.496 –> 29:43.118
So a lot of people have a lot of time making a decision about what they’re going to be.

29:43.158 –> 29:44.659
And so it worked out for me.

29:44.800 –> 29:48.663
But I think just whatever you put your heart and soul into it, you still have to work at it.

29:49.323 –> 29:49.663

29:49.783 –> 29:52.826
How did you find your way into the hospitality business and what was your first gig?

29:53.612 –> 29:54.153
Very simple.

29:55.214 –> 29:57.776
My father was working at a hotel in downtown Miami.

29:57.857 –> 29:58.958
He was a Cuban immigrant.

29:58.998 –> 30:00.780
He was working there in the restaurant.

30:00.960 –> 30:06.906
And one summer I went to work with him as a busboy slash dishwasher slash room service waiter.

30:07.347 –> 30:09.289
All the details will be revealed in the book one day.

30:09.329 –> 30:09.449

30:10.714 –> 30:12.155
But and I fell in love with it.

30:12.295 –> 30:12.515

30:12.655 –> 30:14.675
And I said, you know, I want to be a general manager someday.

30:14.776 –> 30:15.936
And that was my goal.

30:15.976 –> 30:16.676
And I stuck to it.

30:16.736 –> 30:20.458
And there’s lots of things I had to do along the way to become a general manager.

30:20.518 –> 30:23.299
And I knew that I had areas that I wasn’t really good at, like

30:24.574 –> 30:48.624
cooking right because uh i was you know i had a cuban mother cuban sister who wouldn’t let me in the kitchen right so i had to go to the kitchen learn how to cook and then later just became a fan of food and beverage and excelled at it but um it was all you know i just had a goal i love that you said excelled at it again another example of things that you don’t know could definitely turn into one of your strengths if you make a concerted effort i definitely didn’t do something right

30:49.991 –> 31:02.616
But the wider point is that I like to tell everybody out there, particularly the younger people, we have a lot of college folks that are watching, that you could start anywhere in this business and have the most magical, wonderful career.

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There’s so many opportunities inside just this building.

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And it gives you a great perspective on what you’re looking at of another business that you could create just with something you learn here.

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Yeah, so what’s it like for you then, as we start to wrap up, working for a vibrant, exciting, independent hotel company, as opposed to a lot of our friends that just go for that major organization type of route?

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Right fit for me.

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Yeah, right.

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And again, it has to be your personality.

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I could not work in a corporate environment, period.

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Yeah, it’s definitely the right fit for me.

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I think it’s the right combination of being structured enough and then having the ability to be able to do other things, be entrepreneurial, and create things as we go along because we’re creating brands that are changing all the time, that are a bit malleable, right?

31:45.232 –> 31:46.873
So for me, it’s really exciting.

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And it’s also exciting just to go around the world and visit other countries and see the way people operate.

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And the more I travel, the smaller the world gets.

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it’s easy to see that there’s so many good people around the world.

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And I think mostly everybody has the right intentions, right?

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Yep, absolutely.

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And, you know, but, I mean, a few others hold us back, obviously, but we have the right intentions to make things right.

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So it’s very eye-opening.

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And that’s why I say everybody should travel around the world as much as they can.

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I think travel and meeting people of different cultures, backgrounds, completely changes the way that you perceive how this world works.

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No doubt about it.

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It changed my life.

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yeah sure and i can’t i can’t help but think that you know i grew up in new york city my experience is so different than your experience down here versus somebody who grew up in guyana or something like that right it’s completely uh so that’s pretty awesome before we wrap up how does treehouse differ from sh what’s that point of view and what should we expect sustainable as well sustainable as well as uh as one hotels

32:47.693 –> 33:00.558
uh probably a little bit more nostalgic uh irreverent cheeky playful yeah we say it’s more the playful side of one hotels right right uh highly activated in f b just like one hotels but certainly a little bit uh

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more playful i think is the is the main word comfortable and you know vibrant food and beverage all those things awesome i can’t wait to uh i can’t wait to learn more london is terrific yeah uh mayfair right oh well that’s one oh that’s the one hotel yeah and we have uh we have the tree house nearby i have not been uh i’ve not been to london since like nineteen thousand nineteen hotel mayfair and it’s pretty fabulous i’ve only been ever uh since uh since 2020 i’ve only been to canada once and bahamas once i got to get back out and explore the world i know miami more often yeah

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especially this time of year, for sure.

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I was just talking to some people back in New York, they’re shoveling snow right now, I’m like,

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I’m sorry.

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You definitely brought the weather.

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Anything else that you want to mention before we get out here?

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No, it’s been great.

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Thanks for having me.

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Make sure you stay at SH Hotels whenever you can.

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This property here in South Beach is absolutely beautiful.

33:49.178 –> 33:50.859
Raul, thank you so much for being here.

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I want to thank all of you for being here.

33:53.000 –> 33:54.361
Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter.

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Text the word HOTEL to 66866.

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That’s right.

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HOTEL to 66866.

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You’ll get our Sunday night newsletter.

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Subscribe to all of our podcast videos, all that kind of thing.

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Thank you so much.

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We’ll see you later.

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Have a great day.

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