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Heroes and Mavericks

(June 2017) posted on Fri Jun 16, 2017

Boutique Design’s 2017 Up-and-Coming Hoteliers are making their marks with niche hotel concepts that sell to Main Street and Wall Street.

By Mary Scoviak and Oriana Lerner

click an image below to view slideshow

Why taking a risk pays off (and when to do it): “For me to start this company was a huge risk. I had a very cushy corporate role, making good money, with a company that really cared about me and provided me with many opportunities and many more to come. I put everything I had personally, professionally and financially into starting this company. But, worst case scenario, I knew I could fall back on a good job running a hotel. It was Mario that encouraged us to hold off launching the company until we had our first signed management contract, so we would know that at this point we would have a steady stream of income, even if nothing else happened at least I could put food on the table until I found the next opportunity. Even my wife, who’s normally the balancing force when I want to do something crazy, said ‘go for it’ with this. It was certainly a risk but we always had a back-up plan. When we bought our first building in Detroit and the city had just declared bankruptcy, that was my next big risk. Additionally, it never occurred to me that the plan would not work out, ‘cause I just had confidence that we would find a way to make it work.”

Pontchartrain Hotel | Aparium Hotel Group
Pontchartrain Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Christian Horan Photography

How far, how fast, how much: We grew our business with our success, we reinvested everything, so we spent years working hard, looking for more growth and when we could have kicked back we instead remained on edge because we kept growing. It was so stressful. Always trying to make sure we could make payroll, pay bills, etc. Plus, a lot of our clients/owners can’t pay on schedule, which made managing cash flow really tough. Being exposed firsthand to all of this and trying to run and grow the business was so difficult. Naysayers loved our idea but thought we could not build a real company, that our concept was a one-off, but today we have 10 open in less than five years and six financed and under development with a huge pipeline. Our Kansas City hotel is under construction, as is our Montclair, New Jersey project, which is a new-build. We’ll have new openings in Des Moines, Iowa; Tampa, Florida; Tempe, Arizona, Chicago and Birmingham, Michigan. The latter will be different for us as it’s farther up the luxury scale and it’s a new build.


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