News for the Hospitality Executive
Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 83
By Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC
December 2, 2011
1. Congratulations to Lodging Hospitality Editor Ed WatkinsAt the recent International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show, Ed Watkins received the Spartan Hospitality Business Champion Award from The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University. Ed has worked at Lodging Hospitality since 1974 and as editor since 1980. What a record! Thousands of sharp-edged, well-written columns about events and trends in the hotel business. I always appreciate (and envy) his no-nonsense, straightforward reporting ability.
2. Did You Hear About “Airbnb”?
The New York Times (11/13/11) reported “Airbnb’s Lodging Gets Tested, and a Mixed Bag Is The Result”:
Since its debut in 2008, the company, based in San Francisco has booked more than two
million nights of lodging all over the world. But it’s not a hotel. Instead it allows people
to rent out their entire home or apartment- or just a room or a bed- to others who find
Marriott boring or want to see life in a area as a local would.
In three years, Airbnb (whose name refers to bed-and-breakfast establishments) claims to have about 100,000 listings in 19,000 cities and towns in 192 countries.
Wikipedia reports that Brian Chesky and Joe Gabbia founded the site and that listings include private homes, entire apartments, castles, boats, manors, tree houses, tipis, igloos, private islands and other properties. The company is well known for its freewheeling company culture, which has been praised by Business Insider and the Wall St. Journal. For instance, Airbnb employees wear hoodies to press conferences and business meetings.
New York’s state legislature passed a law in 2010 making it illegal to rent out Class A residential space for less than 30 days. It remains to be seen how this will affect Airbnb’s business.
3. A Sows Ear Becomes a Silk PurseThe Bowery House, an old rundown rooming house in New York, has been transformed into a chic version of a European youth hostel. It has such amenities as marble bathrooms with heated floors plus fixtures by Horus, Ralph Lauren towels and bathrobes, Wi-Fi access throughout and a first-rate security system but with communal bathrooms down the hall. The developers, Alessandro Zampedri (a former Formula One race car driver) and Sanford Kunkel (a real estate developer) said that rates range from $59 to $129 per night and that occupancy is running at 97% to date. Zampedri said that “Our biggest expense is our cleaning service. Everything must sparkle 24 hours a day.” He admits that the Bowery House isn’t for everyone. The second floor still houses nine tenants from the hotel’s earlier incarnation as a single-room-occupancy hotel. Zampedri says that hotel “bathrooms actually offer more privacy than the locker rooms in any high-end gym and nobody complains about those.”
4. On The VergeThe 114-Year-old Belleview Biltmore hotel in Belleair, Florida is on its last legs. It is reported (by Lori Helfand, St. Petersburg Times 11/18/11) that “a consultant for the owners is pitching plans to raze most of the hotel to make way for up to 86 townhomes. The fate of the historic resort may rest in the hands of Belleair’s leaders…. In late October, Richard Heisenbottle, a Coral Gables architect who worked for the hotel’s previous owner, revealed plans of his own to save the Biltmore. He argued that a hotel on the site could be successful. And he urged residents to think twice before they let the heart and soul of Belleair be ripped down”.
My new book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York, tells the stories about thirty-two hotels that defied the passage of time and are still in operation. For eighteen of them, it was the fortuitous creation of the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission in 1965. The landmarks law was enacted in response to the demolition of the iconic Pennsylvania Station in 1963. Unfortunately, Belleair and Pinellas County have far fewer protections for historical properties. The residents should join together and protest because a restored Biltmore could attract world travelers seeking a resort with history like the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan or the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.
Here’s a listing of the Biltmore’s famous guests: President Barack Obama, when he was a U.S. Senator, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George W. Bush, the Duke of Windsor, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Tony Bennett, Jerry Lee Lewis, Robin Leach, Cesar Romero, Billy Joel, Joan Baez, the Temptations, Gene Autry, Peter Marshall, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Joe Di Maggio, Dionne Warwick, Fred McMurray, Christie Brinkley, the Lennon Sisters, George Foreman, Norman Rockefeller, Jane Pauley, Gary Trudeau, Bob Dylan, Caroline Kennedy, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Dizzy Dean and practically all the golf greats from 1900 through 1940.
5. Quote of the Month“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is often the bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America.”
Benjamin Franklin, January 26, 17816. Give This Perfect Gift for The Holiday Season
I’ve just published my new book, Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York. It contains 32 chapters, 380 pages, 35 illustrations, a foreword, preface, introduction, bibliography and index.
In the foreword, Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D. (Divisional Dean, Clinical Professor, HVS Chair at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management) writes:
Stanley Turkel has gathered information that reveals how history,
the economy, society, technology and entrepreneurship have
created among the most iconic and distinctive hotels in the world….
You can order the book on www.centuryoldhotelsinnewyork.com. Just click on the “Buy The Book” link for a reduced rate.
Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
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