SPOTLIGHT ON Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group

Dream Hotels have an engaging brand philosophy. Can you tell us more about it?

We are committed to the philosophy that forward-thinking design, service and guest experiences should be available across all market segments. At the end of the day, we create engaging environments that are part of the fabric of the place it calls home. Authenticity and experiential aren’t just buzzwords. They’re a way of life.

You are expanding rapidly. What new hotels are you opening in 2018? Are there any favorable markets/destinations?

Looking ahead, we’re going to remain aggressive – we expect to sign 150 deals over the next five years. As for geography, we’re focusing on major metropolitan cities and smaller secondary markets across the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. At the end of January, Dream Hotel Group had already signed three deals, one for Unscripted Tulum in Mexico, another for Unscripted Belize and the third for Dream Belize. The company is also adding a residential component to a couple of the hotels under development—Dream Palm Springs (175 keys) will have Dream Residences (35 condominium units). The Dream in Belize will also have Dream Residences. Dream Nashville is slated to open in late 2018 as well. We’re doing a really fun project called the Chatwal Lodge up in Bethel, N.Y., very close to where Woodstock took place. [The 50th anniversary of Woodstock is in 2019]. We may be rolling out more of these five-star wilderness lodges—almost as if Ralph Lauren did a retreat in the middle of nowhere. We’re going to do some glamping tents as well as cabins on the lake.

How do you keep your F&B offerings enticing?

Our theory is that if you build attractive, engaging dining and nightlife experiences for the community, the hotel guest will also be well-served with a more genuine and locally relevant experience. It allows us to think and build outside the box. It also means not using a formula. It’s not a cookie cutter approach. It’s about understanding the local community, culture and what consumers want in that specific market.

How do you bring the community into your hotels?

F&B exists at the center of the overall guest experience and is a great local draw. For us, F&B is everything. We build each hotel’s ethos first around the local community. If we build something that our neighbors love, the transient guest will too because everyone wants to feel like a local.

What trend will you be keeping an eye on for 2018?

As for geography, we’re focusing on major metropolitan cities and smaller secondary markets across the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Many cities seem to have been neglected in the lifestyle boom – and with no good reason behind it. We plan on capitalizing on that oversight. There’s definitely a rise of that “great hotel as a social hub” mindset again, and we’re leading that charge. In so many places, a great hotel is a landmark, an icon.