jay

The celebrated hotel brand and management company Dream Hotel Group has a rich, 35-year history of managing properties in some of the world’s most highly competitive hotel environments. RLI speaks with CEO Jay Stein about how the company has maintained its position during a turbulent 18 months and what the future holds.

With Dream Hotels, The Chatwal, Unscripted Hotels and new By Dream Hotel Group brands under its umbrella, New York-based Dream Hotel Group is dedicated to offering travellers an authentic connection to their chosen destination through a truly original approach.
The company encompasses three business lines: Proprietary Brands, Hotel Management and Dining & Nightlife, and they are committed to the philosophy that forward-thinking design, service and guest experience should be available across
market segments.
When discussing the last 18 months with Jay, he explains that ‘challenging’ is certainly one way of describing the pandemic and everything associated with it. “It has been not only challenging but in some cases devastating, to have so many of our hotels temporarily closed for over 12 months. On the flip side, however, markets do vary, and in a couple of instances, we have actually seen some hotels have their best year ever.”
At a time when many companies had to slow down or stop their expansion strategies completely, Stein says there has been absolutely no slowdown in growth to date, and there will be no changes to the plans for how to grow the company.

Chatwal Lodge Exterior (Nov 21)
Chatwal Lodge, New York, US

In terms of recent openings, the company celebrated the opening of the $370M, 32-storey, 238-room Margaritaville Resort Times Square in New York back in July. Dream Hotel Group is the management company for the hotel.
In addition, Dream Hotel Group reopened three of its iconic lifestyle hotels in New York City this spring, bringing the brand’s award-winning hospitality back to the Big Apple. Dream Midtown reopened in New York’s glittering Theater District on 14 May, followed by Dream Downtown the famed Meatpacking District on 26 May. The Time New York by Dream Hotel Group also reopened its doors in June, ahead of Broadway’s return in September. The company’s only five-star luxury hotel, The Chatwal New York, is expected to reopen its doors on 1 November.
Looking ahead, there are five new hotels in the pipeline, with all five on course to open within the next 18 months. One will be situated within a beautiful area of wilderness in The Catskills in New York, which is a 90-mile drive from New York City, a smaller, outdoor retreat version of The Chatwal Hotel in New York called The Chatwal Lodge. The property will open with only ten rooms, but it will offer fantastic attractions, a wonderful sense of nature with two beautiful lakes nearby, and a series of activities for the adventurous guest that includes amazing hiking and stargazing, horseback riding, fly fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
“Outside of the US we have two projects coming up; one of these is situated in Belgium near to where the border of Belgium and France meet near Lille called Your Nature: An Unscripted Eco Resort Belgium. The eco resort will feature 188 rooms and is expected to open early next year. We also have the Dream Doha site, which will be an amazing 250-room property with nine different dining and nightlife venues, including an indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge, as well as an expansive pool area. Dream Doha is on course to open before the World Cup in Qatar next year,” explains Stein.
In the future, the brand will continue to look at other international locations, but they have found that in their home market of the US, opportunities are now presenting themselves in the middle of the country, not just the big coastal cities, allowing the company to grow their lifestyle concepts among new audiences in new and emerging destinations.

Dream Doha Exterior Render (Nov 21)
Dream Doha, Qatar

The lifestyle space is constantly evolving, and that affects how the company views new properties and opportunities. Jay explains it as: “Would our hotel make sense in that area and in that market?” When choosing and working on a new site Dream Hotel Group likes to partner with other developers, typically one that is local to the market. The market and submarket in that area for any new site is also an important factor to see if the location suits the vibe they would like to create within their hotels. “It is not just the hotel guests we have in mind when developing a new site, we need and want the local community to be part of any new scheme too. For example, our food and beverage program will be designed for the community, not just hotel guests. We want to create great hotels that will attract both the local consumer and the global traveller.”
As the portfolio continues to grow, maintaining this selection, ensuring they remain attractive and exciting, and building customer loyalty are ongoing priorities for Dream Hotel Group. They do these things by not resting on their laurels and by always remembering that no matter how good yesterday was, begin every new day at zero, start again and strive to reach even higher levels.
These targets are being achieved through great people and partnerships to create an environment where guests feel special and by not being afraid to change how things look. “We are always looking at opportunities to do new things, to add new things to our repertoire, to better understand what is moving the needle in terms of beverages, food, style and artwork. We think differently and always have new ideas and sometimes we do it company-wide, other times we do it brand-wide, and sometimes it can even be done just at one property,” says Stein.
As the interview draws to a close, Stein explains that leadership is a key component to building a successful brand. “You have to have great leaders who can inspire. If you have employees who are not inspired then it is going to be difficult to do great things, but if you give people the tools and the products to work with and build a highly motivated team like the one we have at Dream Hotel Group, it is almost impossible to stop them from being hugely successful.”