Tamie Adaya runs the urbane Hotel Shangri-La, owns and operates the Santa Monica based artist collective, Crown Jewels, while simultaneously updating her personal blog and writing for the Huffington Post. She is a student of pop-culture, art, history, politics, & more poignantly the world, is revitalizing the principles of what it means to be a Renaissance woman, hotelier, and mother in the 21st century. Tamie’s aptitude in regards to luxury and refinement is the underlying foundation that joins together opulence and simplicity; lavishness and minimalism. This is illustrated in every facet of her life and career from the crisp, clean lines of the Hotel Shangri-La to her union of art, fashion, and music that is Crown Jewels.
How did you get into the hospitality industry?
The Shangri-la has been under my aegis for nearly a decade, but curating dinner parties and being a host began in my adolescence. As long as I can remember I’ve always been excited by the alchemy and combustion that occurs when I bring together agent provocateurs, the eccentric and the deeply interesting. When I had to the opportunity to take over the Shangrila it was the most natural step in the world.
In such a competitive industry, how does Hotel Shangrila stay so successful?
We communicate our values in everything we say and do and infuse our values into every facet of the guest experience. From the high thread count of our linens to the intimate atmosphere of our rooftop bar overlooking the ocean we ensure every interaction with our brand is exceedingly and unmistakably Shangrila.
What partnerships/marketing strategies did you implement that attributed to the success of your hotel?
As a matter of philosophy, I have never advertised the hotel and never will. People should find the Shangrila when they’re meant to. I invite our patrons to have a quixotic relationship with the hotel where they discover our utopia on their own terms.
The young-minded sophisticates of any age with whom the Shangrila resonates have always been able to find us and will continue to find us. It’s an act of trust, a silent communication within a tribe. Economic imperative prohibits most brands from connecting with their audience in such a subtle, principled and organic way. My conviction is based on my commitment to our values.
Your greatest successes as proprietor?
Creating a culture of acceptance, intimacy and imagination within an atmosphere of formal informality where our guests feel both elevated and completely at ease.
The hotel has also given me chance to continue my work as an arts patron. Every year I sponsor emerging cutting edge talent as part of BritWeek founded by former British Consul-General in Los Angeles Bob Peirce. Among the talent I’m proud to have sponsored are Felicity Hayward, Kesh, Mich Dolce, Soki Mak, Scottee, Matthew Stone & Harriet Verney.
How important is location selection to the success of your hotel?
Hotel Shangrila has an exceptional location overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Santa Monica bluffs, arguably the best location in Santa Monica, but the greatest reason for our success is our unique culture. A culture, that I believe, is palpable when you walk through the door.
How important is design/architecture to the success of your hotel?
Architecturally, the hotels Art Deco visual identity is highly distinct, which helps invoke the mood of that era in people’s minds. The Shangrila is imbued with the exuberance of the inter-war years during which it was built, a time in which, Western society and culture was embarking on an adventure into modernity against of backdrop of prohibition and the roaring twenties
With regard to the interior design, I wanted to encapsulate Art Deco’s dynamism and excitement. I also wanted to express its sense of luxury, optimism and aspiration while remaining understated.
I was deeply honored and grateful to receive a conservancy award recognizing my historic preservation of this iconic building from the city of Santa Monica.
What anniversary is the hotel celebrating and can you tell us about the book you wrote?
Hotel Shangrila held a 75th Diamond Jubilee anniversary book launch party at Sketch in London’s Mayfair serving champagne and the Tamietini, my signature passion fruit based cocktail. I’ll also be doing book signings using gold ink embossing powder at our LA book launch on the Shangrila rooftop next month.
The book is a historical document of the Grand Old Dame’s first 75 years in which I reveal many of the celebrated guests including Marilyn Monroe, Bill Clinton & Tom Cruise. As well as sharing some previously untold stories about the hotel.
What qualities make a 5 Star Hotelier?
Shangrila is a personality driven brand which means the hotel is an expression of my taste, aesthetic and philosophy. I care not just the overall guest experience, but calibrating every granular detail as well.
The Shangrila is an oasis in a world of corporate world, which is aided further by the superb staff I’ve managed to assemble. Some of the most enthusiastic feedback I get back about the hotel are for my formidable staff. I feel honored to work with them. The staff is central to the ambience and acceptance people feel when they enter into our sanctuary.
Describe the ideal customer experience at Hotel Shangri-la?
A seamless blend of what the guest wants and what I want to share with them. I see the Shangrila as my home, and I want to engage people and for them to feel as if it is their home too.
Before doing anything I usually ask myself ‘Does this threaten the status quo?’ I also say ‘Tradition must be preserved’.
Favorite travel destination?
I’m very much a world citizen, but I have a special affection for London which in many ways I consider my home. Not least because of my childhood spent there watching Glam Rock on Top of the Pops, having afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason’s and reading the anti-establishment guide to London, Time Out
Role model - business and personal?
My father is a role model to me, but I was very aware of the need for me to forge my own style and identity. Malcolm McLaren is also an inspiration to me because of his iconoclasm. We’ve always seek to break with convention in order to innovate better ways of charming our guests.
What literature is on your bed stand?
Vivienne Westwood’s biography and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. by D. H. Lawrence
What's next for Hotel Shangri-la?
Hotel Shangri-la is a continuum. The secret is not to change anything, because in utopia, time stands still. Shangrila represents continuity in an ever-changing world.
Tamie Adaya: A well-versed traveler, Tamie has afforded herself knowledge of culture and community that most only dream of. From Hearst Castle to the Rock Wall of Parque Guell to the lush bay of Montenegro; West Coast to East Coast,
Tamie offers more than experience through her words, she offers lifestyle.
Tamie’s Tea Time, a monthly affair, brings together an array of attendees from cultural influencers to hotel guests.
Tamie’s 18th century inspired Salons, bring together prominent writers, artists, and fashionistas, for conversation and mutual enlightenment over dinner and drinks. Her quarterly ONYX parties, often celebrity co-hosted, showcase the latest in music, fashion, and art.
Tamie Adaya is quickly becoming the barometer of cool; her palate unprecedented and her words unmatched. Tamie Adaya’s influential experience in art, travel, and fashion pave the way from culture shock to culture architect.