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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 79

Relevant Brand Management?; Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel;
The Magical Americana of New York; Quote of the Month

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC
August 1, 2011

1. Relevant Brand Management?

The following thirteen new brands were introduced in the past month which adds up to an astounding 92 new hotel brand announcements in the past 12 months:

  • Dusit D2  Pasadena Hotel
  • Amalfi Hotel Chicago
  • Eastin Easy Hotel
  • U Hotels & Resorts
  • Eaton Smart New Delhi Airport Transit Hotel
  • Castelfalfi Resort in Tuscany
  • Centara Grand Nusa Dua Resort & Villas
  • Hemingway Hotels and Resorts
  • Concierge Hotel
  • Hotel Diva
  • The Nolitan
  • Z New York Hotel
  • New Hotel by the Greek Yes! Hotel Group 
Meanwhile, at a recent Cornell Brand Roundtable (June 8, 2011), a dozen participants were invited to lead eight different sessions to discuss key insights for successfully measuring and managing brands.  Professor Chekitan Dev of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration said “Managing brands successfully has become the key priority for hospitality business leaders and we wanted to present the science and art that supports excellent brand management, which includes every aspect of the brand….  We discovered that brand value currently accounts for a significant portion of market capitalization, and maximizing the value of this “asset” must be a key priority for the leadership of every organization.  We learned that brands must be relevant, authentic and differentiated to earn a premium.”

Impertinent Question:  How many of the 92 newly-announced brands are relevant, authentic and differentiated?

2.  Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel

Legg Mason, who had a $100 million renovation plan back in 2007, defaulted due to the economic recession.  In December 2010, they sold the hotel to Daniel and Raphael Ades of KAWA Capital, Miami, Florida for only $8 million.  Legg Mason bought it for $30.3 million in 2007. 

Unfortunately KAWA has no interest in restoring the hotel and is currently trying to sell it for $14 million including the Biltmore, the golf course and the Cabana Club on Sand Key.

The Biltmore roof which was damaged during the hurricane season of 2004 has not been repaired since Legg Mason owned the hotel.  Daily fines levied by the town of Belleair are being accrued by KAWA which amount to over $147,000.  KAWA has not paid the fines or restored the damaged roof.

Diane Hein, President, Save the Biltmore Preservationists, writes:

“So currently the Biltmore is for sale again and therefore if you know of any investors, developers, hoteliers or real estate companies to contact to purchase the hotel or if you know of investors who might be willing to help other investors in the renovation process, let me know as soon as possible!  We have spent a lot of time writing to possible investors, but we need your help also again at this time to help save the Biltmore since the current owners unfortunately have no interest in renovating this magnificent hotel!” (contact:

3.  The Magical Americana of New York

The recent report that the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers completed Phase One of a $150 million renovation brought back a flood of memories.

This 50-story full service convention hotel was designed by Morris Lapidus & Associates, developed by the Loews Corporation and opened in 1965 as the Americana of New York.

One year later, I was appointed as Resident Manager by Preston Robert Tisch, Co-Chairman of the Loews Corporation.  At the time, it was advertised as “A legend in its own time.  No hotel in recent years has been as eagerly awaited, as enthusiastically received as the new Americana.”  The Americana had its own elegant night club: The Royal Box which presented many of the world’s leading entertainers.  Among the star-studded headline acts were Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Martin, Julie London, Donald O’ Connor, Edie Adams, Buddy Greco, Rosemarie Clooney, Jack Carter, Wayne Newton, Don Ho, Pearl Bailey, Charles Aznavour, Woody Allen, Caterina Valenti, Myron Cohen, Phyllis Diller, Liberace, Peggy Lee and Harry Bellafonte.

The Executive Housekeeper was Emy Lou Gardner who had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Womens Army Corps where she supervised 5000 WACs.

My experience in operating the 1842-room Americana under General Manager Tom Troy (a former Statler manager) was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that launched my hotel career into orbit.

4.  Quote of the Month

Here’s a verbatim quotation from a rare booklet published in 1899 by the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street (site of the Empire State Building):

“Patrons are invited to inspect the Hotel.  A visit to the Kitchens, Wine Cellars, Segar Humidors and Machinery Hall will be found interesting.  Guides are provided at the office.


The American Audit Company having a suite of offices on the ground floor of the Hotel are prepared to make financial examinations and to undertake every phase of expert and consulting accountancy for the accommodation of guests.  The American Audit Company acts as a special fiduciary agent for lady clients.  Stenographer and typewriter in the Hotel.  Patrons will greatly accelerate the service by using whenever possible the elevators at the Fifth Avenue end of the building.

Owing to the magnitude of the Hotel, we would advise patrons when expecting callers, to notify the office of their whereabouts in the building, and thus enable our page boys to locate them quickly.  The pages, unless the office is otherwise instructed, will go through the several rooms on the ground floor, and will call patrons by using the number of their rooms.  Attention to the boys when calling these numbers will facilitate your being quickly found.


Owing to the number of thefts reported from various Hotels (due probably to sneak thieves) the Management requests the Patrons to be particularly careful in the disposition of their valuables.  Safes are provided in the office for the above purpose, and the Hotel will not be responsible for losses.”


My new book “Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York” will be published before the end of the year.  The circumstances that enabled many of the thirty-two hotels featured in this book to survive more than one hundred years are both surprising and unexpected.

If you want to reserve an autographed copy, send me an email with your mailing address.  I will notify you the when the book is published and available.

In 2009 Stanley Turkel, published his classic book, Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry.  It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters.  It also has a foreword (by Stephen Rushmore), preface, introduction, bibliography and index.

Ed Watkins, Editor of Lodging Hospitality wrote, “The lodging industry typically doesn’t spend a lot of time considering its past.  Some may find that odd since compared to many other businesses (computers, automobiles, aircraft), the hotel business is one of oldest if not the oldest, in the history of man.  That changed recently with the publication of….. Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry, a fascinating and entertaining series of profiles of 16 men who author Stanley Turkel argues were the builders of the modern American hotel industry.  That’s significant because due to the efforts of these titans (and others, of course), the American style of hotelkeeping long surpassed the European tradition that reigned for centuries.

Some of the profiles contain cover names (Hilton, Marriott, Johnson, Wilson) familiar to even casual students of hotel or U.S. history.  Sadly, just one of the pioneers covered the book (John Q. Hammons) is still alive and active in the industry.  To me, the more interesting tales cover hoteliers about whom I knew little before reading this book but now have a great appreciation for their contributions.

The most compelling story focuses on Kanjibhai Manchhubhai Patel who Turkel identifies as the first Indian-American hotelier.  K. M. Patel arrived in San Francisco in 1923 and soon began operating a small residential hotel in the city.  The rest, as they say, is history; Today, Indian-American hoteliers dominate the industry with their trade association, AAHOA, recently surpassing 10,000 members.  As Turkel says, this community represents a true American success story.

To order the book, go to  “I heartily recommend it.”


Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC

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Also See: Nobody Asked me, But… No. 78; AAHOA Chairman Hits a Home Run; Universal Franchisee Bill of Rights; HomeSpun; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / July 2011

Nobody Asked me, But... No. 77: Public Relations Trumps Common Sense; Nobody Does It Better; Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room to Close; Pay Attention to State Franchise Laws; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / June 2011

Nobody Asked me, But... No. 76: Empire State Building's 80th Anniversary and the Waldorf-Astoria; "Defying Time: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York"; Impertinent Question Seeking a Pertinent Answer; Wyndham Hotel Group Reports; Save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / May 2011

Nobody Asked me, But… No. 75: Blackstone Reportedly Prepping Hilton for Flotation; Things Are Seldom What They Seem, Skim Milk Masquerades As Cream; Quote of the Month; First Announcement / Stanley Turkel / April 2011

Nobody Asked me, But… No. 74: The Triumph of Public Relations; Helpful Hotels; Court Rules Holiday Inn Commits “Reprehensible Fraud”; Quote of the Month / March 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 73: Impertinent Question Still Seeking a Pertinent Answer; The Fountain of Old Age; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / February 2011

Impertinent Question In Search of a Pertinent Answer; Does The Industry Really Need Another Brand?; Hilton’s Hands Get Slapped in Starwood Settlement; China- Based Developers Buy U.S. Hotels; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / January 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 71 - Impertinent Questions Still Seeking Pertinent Answers; The Baseball Business…Where Next?; Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / December 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 70 -John Q. Hammons, Impertinent Question, Quote of the Month / Stanley Turkel / November 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 69 - Large Banks Creating Crisis For Hoteliers; Are Room Telephones Obsolete? / Stanley Turkel / October 2010

Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers; The Best Franchise Website; Free Wi-Fi at Top of Amenity List / Stanley Turkel / September 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 67 : Stanley Turkel's Review of Budget/Economy Hotels Following a Three Week Pennsylvania Road Odyssey / Stanley Turkel / August 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 66 : Recognizing Three Hotel Industry Experts Whose Accomplishments Are Unique - Bjorn Hanson, Peter Greenberg and Richard Warnick / Stanley Turkel / July 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 65: A Well-Deserved Compliment for Steve Rushmore; Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers / Stanley Turkel / June 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 64: Best Western Finally Makes a Move; Cuba, The Caribbean’s Hottest Destination / Stanley Turkel / May 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 63: Can Airlines Learn From Hotels?; Memo to Ian Schrager / Stanley Turkel / April 2010

Nobody Asked Me, But No. 62 / Do the Radisson Franchisees Agree with Carlson's billion-dollar Makeover Program? At Last: A Win-Win Victory for Tourism; Congratulations to the Harris Rosen Foundation / Stanley Turkel / March 2010

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