Meet the Owners: Jared Galbut, Menin Hospitality, Miami

The latest of a series in which Nathalie Salas interviews the owners and proprietors of independent boutique hotels.

Miami is what would many call the mecca for boutique and lifestyle hotels. This vibrant and eclectic metropolis not only gained its reputation for the quantity of hotels that stretch stylishly across Miami Beach, it has also become a creative and dynamic hub of innovation and foresight that is rapidly changing contemporary travel.

Think of the Belle Époque era in Paris, and how Post-Impressionism, Cubism and Art Nouveau metamorphosed, changing the art world forever. Miami has now reawakened the hotel industry with its own new ways of thinking, which are already creating ripple effects around the world.

Menin Hospitality is an exemplarity illustration of how applying an exciting mix of experiential, boutique, lifestyle and design can produce successful hotels and restaurants that successfully meet the discerning needs of the ever-evolving contemporary traveller. Based in Miami, it operates hotels in South Florida and Chicago, including the most recent opening of the 87-room Gale South Beach and Regent Hotel, which cost $35 million to restore.

Business partners Keith Menin and Jared Galbut are cousins from a family with a long-standing reputation in South Florida’s hospitality sector. Having both lived and breathed Miami’s many reincarnations, their experience, understanding and foresight into what is required to be one step ahead in a competitive market space has helped Menin Hospitality to develop an attractive pipeline of future projects. These include the Gale Suites at Kaskades on South Beach, set to open on December 1, 2014, as well as two new hotels and three new restaurants – all of which will be completed in late 2014 through to 2015.

Nathalie Salas talks to Jared Galbut, principal of Menin Hospitality, about the developments that are currently happening in Miami and contemporary travel.

Having been born and raised in Miami, you have experienced first-hand the city’s highs and lows, from both an economic and destination brand perspective. Is the current revival that Miami is experiencing now any different to its previous reincarnations? Has it reached saturation point, or is there still room for further growth?  

Miami has certainly come a long way as a destination. For some time it was merely recognised for its entertainment value, but within the last 10 years it has seen tremendous growth as a luxury market. While the most recent economic downturn did unfortunately put distress on a few businesses, it also brought on a market correction and identified a new direction for the city’s (current) development. Miami offers the benefits of a tropical destination, with cosmopolitan-city style nightlife and a melting pot of cultures that influence the food, art and energy. It serves a main gateway for the Americas and Europe and based on these factors, along with the record tourism figures in the past four years, major brands are taking notice of its desirability. While we are seeing many notable corporations targeting Miami for 2014 and 2015, I do believe that there is room for further growth and more importantly for collaboration… I actually believe this is just the beginning of Miami’s evolution.

How has the mindset in hotel real estate development changed over the years in Miami, and what can developers learn today from the recent economic downturn?

Hoteliers and developers are now operating with more caution and not allowing the thrill of initial profits to be indicative of future revenues. They are prepared for adjustment and readied for the chance of an economic downturn, whether it be in the US or in a neighbouring country that serves as an important part of our tourism market.

All of the Menin Hospitality hotels are in buildings that have a historic past. Is this because they help to add a dimension to the storytelling brand experience, or is it purely a coincidence?

Similar to the buildings we restore, my business partner (Keith Menin) and I have deep roots in Miami Beach. Our grandparents and relatives have grown up in and around most of these buildings, which allows us the opportunity to retell their stories to a new generation through each restoration. Within Gale South Beach, we’ve actually displayed the history of the building through black and white photos retrieved from the Miami Beach Historical Association, Miami’s Historic Preservation archives and our family albums, to provide a deeper look into its ‘past life’. We are honoured to be reintroducing these significant buildings to the city, creating a personal connection with its guests and allowing each to have the same appeal that was once achieved when in its prime.

How would you describe the current evolution of contemporary travel and how this has impacted/affected Menin’s brand positioning? What changes have been made to keep up with the expectations of the contemporary traveller?

We have built our brand, offerings and design characteristics to appeal to everyone, from baby boomers to millennial-minded guests, which comprise the two largest travel demographics at this time. Travellers today are much more savvy, have higher expectations and are more particular about their environment and amenity needs within a hotel. We haven’t been stirred by this, but have rather responded to these standards that are required for the modern-day hotel guest. For example, at Gale South Beach – our most recent development – we’ve woven technology into both our design and service operations, but have maintained the human touch for those that favour face-to-face assistance and communication. We’ve also created a wing of luxury suites (Gale Suites at Kaskades) for those that are seeking a private retreat-style stay, while others may prefer more simple pleasures. We also offer a variety of dining and entertainment options, health-focused amenities (pool, gym and juice bar), as well as history, culture and our unique personal touch within each design. Our guests can curate their own experience onsite, with ease and efficiency, to suit their travel needs.

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