Since opening as a new-build property in Manhattan in July, Hotel Hendricks has relied on its eclectic design and personable staff to thrive in the heart of New York City’s hotel market.
NEW YORK—Making an impression in the Big Apple’s boutique hotel scene can be a challenge for new properties.
The properties that rise to that challenge often have three things: unique design, personable staff and a hip restaurant or bar, said David Lopez, GM of the 174-room Hotel Hendricks. The property opened in July in Manhattan near Fifth Avenue and Bryant Park with Times Square just a five-minute walk away.
Lopez, who joined the hotel this fall after more than 20 years working in New York’s hotel market, said Hotel Hendricks’ design by Marcello Pozzi is both “eclectic” and “contemporary” with mahogany wood, concrete pillars and unique Murano chandeliers.
The level of detail put into the hotel’s lobby, restaurant and rooftop bar extends to the guestrooms, which isn’t often the case, he said.
“We have 174 rooms that are very well-appointed,” Lopez said. “Surprisingly for me, doing this for 21 years in the city, the ownership here really goes out of their way to ensure that the rooms are done very well from an aesthetic standpoint. It’s high-quality.
“So many times nowadays the hotels that are opening are really focused on the public outlets and maybe the facade,” while rooms don’t receive as much attention, he said.
“But this ownership group doesn’t believe in that; they’ve always focused on the rooms,” he said.
Hotel Hendricks is the latest addition to Fortuna Realty Group’s New York-based collection, which includes Chelsea properties Hotel Henri and Hotel Hayden, Soho’s Hotel Hugo and Garden City Hotel on Long Island. Hotel Hendricks is affiliated with Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
Hotel Hendricks’ restaurant, Paloma, brings a unique menu to the hotel’s neighborhood, Lopez said.
“The Paloma restaurant is Latin-infused and honestly some of the best food I've had,” he said.
The city views from Hotel Hendricks’ rooftop are can’t-miss, Lopez said. And with both an outdoor and indoor bar, guests can sip a cocktail and enjoy those views year-round.
“We stand out even though there might be a rooftop at every hotel these days … we have this incredible view of the Empire State Building,” Lopez said.
Hiring and communicating a vision
As a veteran hotelier, Lopez knows hospitality talent when he sees it.
“When it comes to actually going out to recruit, the ideal situation in my opinion—and I've opened four hotels—is you have to go out and you have to find those team members,” he said. “So you take the time, typically when you're not open, to source through walking around the neighborhood, going to some of the coffee houses, maybe you go to Saks or whatever the case may be, and you just kind of look around and look for those people.”
Especially in the boutique segment, guests are looking for personalized experiences that are either met or unmet by their interactions with hotel staff.
“You can train on tasks easily; you can't train somebody to be warm and fuzzy, warm and authentic in that manner,” Lopez said. “You just can't. It's really important that you do pick and choose people that have experience, which is typically your managers, and that they possess the ability to train those team members on the job, and then you have to be very patient. But I tell you every time I've done it, it has worked out.”
Receiving feedback and ideas from employees can help create a sense of buy-in, he added.
“We have millennials that are at the front desk, so we tap into their opinions,” he said. “We make sure that they're part of whatever that we're putting together so … they feel like they've contributed. … Once you really, really take the time to bring people in, then they're just in because they are part of it.”