Sunday, May 23, 2010

Opening Day (It's a Boy !!)

No, I didn’t just welcome in a new member of my family.

I’ve been asked many times. “What’s it like to open a new Hotel?”

My answer? It’s like having a baby. (Not that I’ve personally had one, but there was a time when I was married, and we did have two great kids, so I am speaking from experience).

Think about it. One day, you are sitting in your office, doing what you do, and in walks someone, (it doesn’t really matter who), and they tell you that you’re going to open a new Hotel, and you have approximately nine months to do so. (Sound familiar?)

Then, you spend every waking moment, from that day until the day that your Hotel opens, focused on one thing, opening on time, with every facet of the operation functioning properly.

You prepare diligently for that special day, you solicit experts along the way to help you, to ensure that you get everything right.

Along the way, you suffer set backs and you celebrate small successes. You ask yourself if you’re doing everything right. Have you prepared everything you need for the big day? Have you got all the right people in place to help with the delivery?

And then, seemingly before you know it, the big day arrives, and even though you know that you have done everything that can be done, you question your thoroughness, you review every decision in your mind, and on that giant list of things to do, just one more time. Is it enough?

What you’re not prepared for though, what none of us are prepared for, is how it will feel after you have finished the project and you turn it over to someone else. You’ve gone through the pregnancy, you’ve sweated all the little stuff, over and over again, now you’re turning over your little one to someone else to raise and you hope that they will turn out the way you envisioned.

You hope, that someone sees in this child all of the possibilities that you do. And you know, that there can’t be two sets of parents. You have to trust that your baby will be as important to them as it is to you, but at the end of the day, it’s out of your hands. It’s not easy.

I remember speaking with a developer that I worked with, and I told him that I thought that it must be so hard for him to walk away from his projects once they’re done, given that he has spent years from the point of simply having an idea, to purchasing the land, going through zoning, development approvals, design, and on and on. He spent years on a project before a shovel ever hit the ground.

He looked at me like I was crazy, and simply said; “no, I don’t get attached to my projects.”

I struggled with his answer, I couldn’t get my head around it. Then, I thought to myself, maybe it’s because he builds “things” and a Hotel is a living, breathing entity with a distinct personality, and they are filled with people.

And while I admit, I get attached to every single thing in a Hotel that I open, whether it’s the decision around the choice of the shower heads, the linen, whatever it may be, it’s all important and special.

But above all, it’s the people. You’ve gone through a shared experience with these people, you’ve asked for their help time and again over the months and days leading up to opening, and when you thought you couldn’t ask any more of them, you did, and they rose to the challenge, because they saw what you saw. They saw what was possible, a new realm of possibilities, and they weren’t prepared to let anything get in the way, and THAT is why I get so attached to a project.

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