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The Emerging and The Iconic Boutique Hoteliers of 2020

Explore the top four minds in the Boutique Community

If you are making travel plans and hope to stay at some of the most innovative boutique hotels in the country, you will want to read about these hoteliers and their latest endeavors. Some are well known, while others are emerging. These hoteliers will create an unforgettable travel experience, and here’s why.

1. Iconic Hotelier: David Bowd

Founder & CEO of Salt Hotels

David Dowd, founder and CEO of Salt Hotels, has truly worked his way up from the bottom to the top in the hotel industry. His first job as a hotel houseman at age 16 inspired him to pursue a career in the field. After working in many capacities for the Marriott and Hilton hotel chains, he took his first general manager position for the Thistle Hotels in London in 2011. In a few years, he moved on to a job with St. Martins Lane and soon became the regional vice president for Europe. After a few years under his leadership, the hotel was voted Trip Advisor’s “2006 hippest hotel in Europe.”

Another career move took him to New York, where he oversaw operations for 11 properties belonging to the Morgans Hotel Group. This opened the door for him to move into a position with The Ian Schrager Company in 2009, where he oversaw the sale of The Gramercy Park Hotel and helped with the development of two new brand concepts for the company. In yet another move up the corporate ladder, David became the COO of Andre Balazs Properties, before embarking on his venture with Salt Hotels.

Mr. Bowd is now the chief executive of Salt Hotels, which he launched in 2014. The hotel group has four locations, two in Asbury Park, NJ, and two in Provincetown, MA. The newest location, the Asbury Ocean Club Hotel, has received accolades, and The Asbury Hotel made national news when it opened in 2016. With two new boutique hotels in the works in London and New York, as well as Asbury Lanes, a music venue set in a converted 1960s’ bowling alley, there is no doubt that David Bowd has made his mark on the hotel industry.

2. Iconic Hotelier: Paul McGowan

Founder & Managing Principal of Hospitality 3 (Study Hotels)

After an extensive and impressive career in the hotel industry that included 16 years at Starwood/ITT Sheraton, Paul McGowan founded Hospitality 3, Study Hotels’ developer, in 2003. His experience with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. included roles as senior vice president and heading construction and design for W Hotels. The W Hotels brand, well-known for its urban lifestyle concept, has found great success in the industry.

Mr. McGowan’s concept for Study Hotels evolved from his experiences in visiting college campuses with his daughter, where he discovered a niche for lodging that encouraged more intimate interactions and connections. He saw a need for hotels that could incorporate the unique personality, culture, and energy of college campuses with genuine hospitality to create hotels with a meaningful environment. The goal was to create locations that accurately reflected the character of the college campus while providing a stylish, functional, comfortable place to stay.

When the Study at Yale, the company’s flagship location, opened, the front office manager started a trend by allowing incoming freshmen to ship supplies and linens to the hotel in advance of move-in day. The idea was well-received and continues today. In 2017, a second location opened in Philadelphia, the Study at University City, and two more locations in Chicago and Baltimore are slated for opening in 2021. With his keen understanding of combining destinations and personal connections, along with his desire to make the boutique hotel experience more than just a movement, Paul McGowan’s Study Hotels will be making their way to a college town near you soon.

With these hoteliers, you’ll be sure to experience a unique environment. Immerse yourself in the culture they’ve created in their unique environments.


1. Emerging Hotelier: Chris Pardo

Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer of ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants

Chris Pardo partnered with four other men to co-found ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants in 2011, with the concept of combining the convenience of traditional hotels with the comfort and style of Airbnb-type rentals. The boutique hotel concept is based in neighborhoods, as opposed to bustling business districts, and features residentially furnished, architecturally exciting design elements. There are five ARRIVE hotels around the country, and more are in the works.

In addition to being the hotels’ co-founder, Mr. Pardo is acting director of development, architect, and interior designer. His educational background, studying architecture and construction management at Arizona State University, and a degree in hotel & restaurant management from UNLV, followed by a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Washington, affords him a unique insight into this industry.

Mr. Pardo has a vision for ARRIVE hotels to inspire travelers, in addition to the traditional role of being a comfortable place to sleep while away from home. The concept of situating the hotels in neighborhood localities and making them a hangout of sorts seeks to incorporate the urban fabric and local character of the city into the hotel experience. The hotels are designed with retail space in the frontage of the property (usually a huge lobby), which appeals to the community and allows neighborhood residents as well as travelers to use the space. The idea is to create a restaurant that also offers rooms, which is sure to attract a broad demographic of travelers who are looking for interesting accommodations.

2. Emerging Hotelier: Zachary Plutzik

Managing Director, The Betsy-South Beach

After earning a political science degree from Yale University, Zachary Plutzik spent time working in digital advertising for AOL and for Google’s YouTube Spaces Team, which made a global effort to connect and curate content creators. His background in these areas was instrumental in developing his role in heading up The Betsy’s brand, revenue management, and digital presence. He is the head of all hotel operations, as well as being a co-owner along with his parents, Lesley Goldwasser and Jonathan Plutzik.

Mr. Plutzik didn’t enter the industry with an education or background in the field. Still, he developed a passion for hospitality after spending a year and a half learning the details of the business from his parents. The family worked together to create a boutique hotel experience that is focused on arts and culture and community building. This was a new concept in Miami Beach, which quickly gained notoriety and brought worldwide attention to the hotel. He believes that he must be open to evolving as a hotelier to see continued success.

The Betsy creates a unique experience for guests by incorporating poetry, art, music, and wellness into its concept. The hotel places poems on its pillows and houses multiple influential cultural organizations. Two of Miami’s major pieces of permanent public art, The Betsy Orb and The Betsy  Poetry Rail, are on the hotel property for guests and locals to enjoy. This innovative approach of hosting traveling artists has earned The Betsy many accolades, including grants from the Knight Foundation. The awards are sure to keep coming in as this boutique hotel grows and evolves.

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