truth tellin’: hotel edition

What’s it like? awful. It is quite literally blood, sweat and tears. It’s an uphill battle; in the rain/sleet/ and snow; barefoot and without a light at the end of the tunnel.

I understand that was a bunch of metaphors mangled together in a less than beautiful portrait of what opening a hotel is like, and I apologize. But if you’ve learned anything from what I write, you’ll know by now that I won’t paint you a rosy picture unless that picture is indeed, a fucking rosy one.

Opening a hotel is not for the faint at heart. That is one of the things I learned when I packed up my quiet mountain life and headed from the hills, to the big city. Pre-Opening is a task designed by the devil himself to break you. I honestly believe that.  It’s a daunting task that comes naturally to very few (Note: I am not one of those few). I commend those who are more experienced than myself in this seemingly impossible feat. For without them, I would have never made it out alive.

First– Nothing is done. You are running bare bones a majority of your days. Your “office” i.e. desk is in a basement. But that basement isn’t really a basement. It is the second level of a parking garage made in to an office. It leaks when it rains, doesn’t have enough power built in to it, and smells just a little “off”. When you plug in a space heater, you definitely probably will blow a fuse. You will be required to wear the sexiest of hard hats and florescent vests when you climb in to the manually operated elevator to the 20th floor; where your lobby and reception desk will inevitably be. Your days are long and to-do lists even longer.

You will cry. You will feel like a fraud,  a failure, and a champion— all in the same day. You will second guess everything. You will survive on caffeine and adrenaline (and a little Adderall). But look out world, because you are opening a hotel!

Then– you will have a staff. And you now have these little gremlins eager to learn all of the processes and procedures you spent many hours (and accumulate many a paper cut) creating. They are wide eyed and happy to be there. It warms your heart how un-jaded they all are. Just wait.

You have a deadline; the open date. It’s already been pushed back x amount of times so this final deadline seems more like a tease than anything. A week goes by. And then another. And holy shit, the giant gold scissors have arrived and you’re cutting the stupid ribbon; THE HOTEL IS OPEN.

Months go by, and people leave. People always leave. Servers, bartenders, agents, housekeepers– All expendable. But then a couple months of data accumulate. And numbers aren’t being met. Directors begin to leave. When the head honchos start to leave, that’s when you know your ship is going down. More months go by, more people leave. Everything you worked so hard to create is now crumbling. It is crashing.

There is no “honeymoon stage” when you open a hotel. You quite literally spend so much time cultivating only to have everyone’s hair set fire in the first week. Everything you taught your agents? Poof. Gone. They are calling guests “dude” and saying things like, “yeah sure, no problem”. It’s like that scene from Roadrunner where he is in a boat and each time he plugs one hole, another emerges. (I don’t actually know if that was a Roadrunner scene. I was born in 1990. But you get my point.) You work and you work and you work. But nothing is ever done.

There is a building in Chicago, IL with my actual blood, sweat, and tears engraved in to it.  I will forever be immortalized in a beautiful contemporary building (at least until the next Great Chicago Whatever). And despite the trauma I have endured there, it will always hold my heart (and sanity). No one tells you the reality of opening a hotel. No one tells you that you’ll want to quit every other day. They don’t tell you that it’s impossible to plan for everything. But the feeling once the storm (or storms) have passed, is a feeling unlike any other.

I’ve never had a child (nor will I ever have a child) but that feeling of accomplishment is really the only thing I can liken it to at this point in my life. And I don’t care that it’s tacky. And I don’t care if you disagree. I have (with the help and guidance of others because I’m only fucking human) curated and cultivated this amazing… Thing that brings joy to others. I have helped create a place where people from everywhere in the world can enjoy themselves. They can laugh, cry, fight, cuddle; whatever the fuck they want. And that is… well it’s a feeling of epic proportions.

What is it like, opening a hotel? Awful. It is quite literally blood, sweat and tears. It’s an uphill battle; in the rain/sleet/ and snow; barefoot and without a light at the end of the tunnel.

But at the end of that tunnel, it’s worth it. Good God is it worth it.


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