She Became a Natural-Born Hotelier Through Modernizing an Iconic Palm Beach Classic

iconic Palm Beach

So, what exactly do you do?

The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach is owned and operated by me. That means I’m in charge of everything from branding and interior design to forming partnerships and unpacking boxes as needed. I put on whichever hat is appropriate for the situation.

What brought you here?

The route was detoured at first, but it turned out to be ideal. Among others, I started my work in fashion public relations at Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, and Hugo Boss. My husband’s family was a part-owner of The Colony at the time, and it was always a special place for us. Andrew and I saw an opportunity to buy the property altogether in 2016, and we decided to do so together, with me guiding a full refurbishment and relaunch.

What does a regular day in your life look like for you?

I get up early enough to have my three small children dressed, fed, and ready for school. Then I might go for a yoga or tennis session. I’m at my desk by 10 a.m., answering emails about construction and renovation design, sourcing branded products, and forming collaborations. My days are broken up by weekly Zoom calls about finance, revenue, marketing, and HR.

How did your experience in the fashion sector prepare you for a career in hospitality?

Fashion was the ideal cross-training for luxury hospitality because both are experiential. Traveling or shopping for luxury fashion is ultimately an emotional decision based on how you feel after the event. Both worlds are heavily influenced by the style, branding, and aesthetics. You’re telling a story to which your visitor or consumer may relate and share.

Discuss one of the most essential lessons you acquired while operating The Colony.

There is no such thing as a tiny job, I’ve discovered. A valet or housekeeper will often have a more direct touch with a guest than the general manager in a hotel, therefore the personnel in those jobs are crucial to the hotel’s feel and character. The value of an individual’s contribution transcends their position in the company’s hierarchy.

What is the most difficult problem you are now facing?

I wish I had more living space! The demand for events, weddings, and guest rooms at the hotel vastly outnumbers our capacity, so we’re having to look at every aspect of our business to figure out how to give everyone enough space while maintaining the correct balance for the hotel and visitor experience.

What is the most underappreciated aspect of Palm Beach?

Without a doubt, the beach. Palm Beach is so well-known for its splendor, architecture, gastronomy, and fashion that I believe many people forget that the wide white beaches were the original draw. A simple reminder of what attracted folks here in the first place is a quiet day listening to the waves and perhaps surfing or skimboarding.

How can you ensure that your efforts benefit the community?

The Colony’s positive community impact has always been a cornerstone of our ownership. Being an ethical company and paying a living wage to our employees are the first steps. It also includes voluntarily getting The Colony classified as an Architectural Historic Landmark, which helps to preserve Palm Beach’s physical past. Finally, it entails personal and corporate participation in organizations that have a direct positive impact on the local community, such as the Center for Family Services, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, Palm Beach first responders, Cancer Alliance, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, to name a few.

Give an example of a career highlight.

For me, the unveiling of the De Gournay Living Room was a watershed moment. It was the literal embodiment of everything I had envisioned for The Colony. A venue that welcomes all, is timeless and fresh at the same time, and is effortlessly stylish and iconic of Palm Beach. It premiered at the same time that the Covid vaccination became widely available, and the cultural enthusiasm of the time was reflected in our new venue.

What one thing about your industry would you change if you had a magic wand?

One of the most pressing issues in the hotel sector is the lack of a work-life balance. I wish I could wave my magic wand and grant ALL of our staff the work-life balance that we all want daily.

What aspect of your employment gives you the most satisfaction?

Without a doubt, the most satisfying aspect of my profession is knowing that I am contributing to something larger than myself. The Colony is a living entity with a history and future far beyond mine. I am a steward trying my hardest to leave her in a better and brighter state during my time here, but her history is a long and winding one with many chapters. At The Colony, I’ve heard hundreds of personal tales about people’s relationships and rich histories; feeling the responsibility of preserving all of those moments is both humbling and motivating.