Peter Shaindlin: Chief Operating Officer of Halekulani Corporation

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Peter Shaindlin is recognized as one of the leading visionaries and change agents in the global luxury hospitality industry. Shaindlin oversees all aspects of company operations, development and business strategy. Shaindlin has achieved international recognition for developing and managing iconic brands and properties and for inspiring organizations to achieve their fullest qualitative and financial potential. Prior to joining Halekulani Corporation, Shaindlin was founding principal of Lotus Luxury Group, vice president, Caribbean for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and previously managed such illustrious and celebrated institutions as Rosewood’s Little Dix Bay, the Boca Raton Resort & Club, The Stanhope Hotel and Grand Bay Hotel in New York City and Assistant General Manager of Food & Beverage, United Nations World Headquarters in New York.

How did you get into the hospitality industry?

I went to bartending school in New York City in 1977 with the goal of getting a job to pay my college expenses. A consultant at a restaurant I worked at told me I should get a job in a hotel as the pay and benefits would be better. So I got a job at the Biltmore Hotel near Grand Central Station; they insisted I start in the basement food storeroom issuing food and liquor to the hotel chefs and restaurants. From there I just hustled and worked my way up into management through hard work and perseverance.

In such a competitive industry, how does The Halekulani Corporation stay so successful?

Halekulani Corporation believes in competing against itself rather than other brands and companies. We have found that if you simply set a clear vision of what you want to be and offer and do it well, they’ll be a market in response. We also stay tuned to what the building blocks or ‘DNA’ of the brand really are and make sure that with each new initiative those qualities are reflected fully and appropriately.

What partnerships/marketing strategies did you implement that attributed to the success of your hotels?

We focus on both travel industry partnerships and arts and culture partnerships. The former involve a wide range of both local and international luxury brands and even fashion designers and the like, while with arts and culture we partner with a broad variety of entities from museums and historical institutions to the symphony, opera and Pops orchestra. These not only establish our presence in the community and marketplace but speak to our values in a way that appeals to the type of consumer our product most naturally aligns with.

Your greatest successes as proprietor?

Being able to maintain a long-term, loyal employee base for our treasured guests.

How important is location selection to the success of your hotel?

It’s important but not critical: a hotel is more about people than place; Halekulani enjoys a reputation as an ‘international hotel,’ and so we strive to espouse global standards but while simultaneously celebrating local culture and character. Having said that, Halekulani’s setting on the loveliest part of Waikiki Beach presents the hotel with an almost magical energy.

How important is design/architecture to the success of your hotel?

Design and architecture are important to the hotel’s success in that they are able to express and embody a sense of place. Well-executed architecture always stands as a palpable reflection of the soul and essence of its surrounding culture.

What qualities make a 5 Star Hotelier?

A collective sense of culture, detail, anticipation and grace.

Describe the ideal customer experience at a Halekulani Hotel?

Leaving the hotel and saying, ‘I would have paid more.”

Life Motto?

Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.

How do you motivate your employees?

By listening to them and expressing to them a clear and inspired vision of what they can achieve. And also, explaining to them why something should be done, rather than simply what should be done.

Role model - business and personal?

Business: Laurence S. Rockefeller

Personal: Marcel Proust   

What literature is on your bed stand?

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbons

Poems of Louis MacNiece

The History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell

Slowness, Milan Kundera

Metamorphoses, Ovid

What's next for The Halekulani Corporation?

In 2017 Halekulani will celebrate its 100th anniversary. We are beginning to plan a great series of legacy-based events while at the same time, formulate our vision for our second century of hospitality.