Proper Hotels President Brian De Lowe talks about the brand’s future
The hotel brand of “global creative nomads” is slowly developing like crazy.
We expect almost everything to be personalized. Experiences, restaurants, phones. All personalized to fit you exactly. Hotels are no exception to this rule, although it has never been so difficult to find the right hotel to suit your lifestyle. There are so many options that the hotel landscape can feel overwhelming. Sites like Kayak, TripAdvisor or Hotels.com have detailed terms and conditions, thousands of photos, and a never-ending stream of user reviews that are usually worthless.
On top of that, Marriott has a million brands under its umbrella, boutiques seem to pop up overnight, budget versions can be hit and miss, and Airbnb is total crapshoot.
But every once in a while a hotel brand shows up and knows exactly what it is, who it’s for, and what it’s trying to convey. Proper Hospitality is one such brand. For those not in the know, Proper has hotels in San Francisco (which Fodor named one of the best hotels in the world in 2019), Santa Monica, Austin, Downtown LA, and soon to be Malibu; Proper is for today’s “global creative nomad”.
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We wanted to get a little insight into this growing hotel brand, so we chatted with President and Co-Founder of Proper Hospitality, Brian De Lowe, to better understand who they are, what they do and what’s to come. . Next.
Let’s just start with the basics. How do you describe the Proper Hotel brands?
We design, brand and operate lifestyle hospitality experiences under the Proper brand and the Hotel June brand. I think at Proper we are really filling a void in the market by creating special and unique hotels – and, hopefully, will stand the test of time. Our goal is to create hotels that cater to a new generation of upscale travelers who not only want quality services and amenities, but who truly seek more memorable stays and cultural connectivity.
One has the impression that design is an integral part of the hotel’s philosophy. How does that play out in what you do?
We call our properties a softer kind of luxury that draws on Kelly Wearstler’s design aesthetic. She is the creator of the Proper brand hotels. It’s a bit unique, eclectic, and luxurious while also blending in with these carefully curated unique experiences and programs, and truly exceptionally thoughtful food and drink offerings. And we try to do that throughout this socially conscious lens that cares about our environment and our neighborhoods. So, Proper Hotels are truly the ideal solution for high-end travelers who appreciate quality design, but also want to leave feeling like a part of the city and having the best local experience through our lens.
You describe your demographic as that creative nomad, but can you be a little more specific about who you call on?
Yes, I think we are different from an Ace Hotel or a Standard, one of those more typical boutique hotels where the age of the clients varies between 20 and 40 years old. I think the age of our clients is a little older. So 30-50 is probably the place to be, but very suited to the creative, sophisticated in terms of travel and food and drink tastes, design, and can probably afford to stay in a more luxury hotel. traditional like a Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton, but they don’t want to.
You seem to be growing pretty quickly, what’s coming up for the business?
We entered COVID after opening our two major flagships, which are in Santa Monica and Austin. When the pandemic hit we were sort of squatting, but I’m proud to say that we’ve now opened all of our hotels that we had closed during the pandemic. We opened our first June hotel in Los Angeles last summer. We opened the Venice V last month and are opening two more hotels this summer or fall with another Proper in Downtown LA and a Hotel June in Malibu. And we also signed a few other agreements. So we are growing a lot.
Another big part of your hotels focuses on the food. What do you look for when you think of your hotel restaurants?
It’s a big part of the Proper brand. We are heavy consumers of food and drink ourselves, and that’s all I really think about. When I travel, food is a big part of what brings me to destinations and what I focus on when I’m there. So a really fun part of my job when we open hotels in other markets, we partner with culinary partners in those areas who are doing great things. Some hotel brands are focusing on the kind of real big name partners who have maybe 20 or 30 other hotel restaurants, with national or international appeal. But for us, we really focus on the local hero partners that we think local communities place a high value on, but maybe the traveler isn’t aware of. So we can offer that to our customers and give them something that really looks like the city.
Can you tell us about the two new properties in downtown Los Angeles and Malibu?
We’ve always loved Downtown LA, but didn’t really think it was ready for a hotel like ours until fairly recently. We bought the building six or seven years ago and it is an iconic California Renaissance building from the 1920s. It was originally built as a state-of-the-art private club in the 1920s and had members like director Cecil B. DeMille. It was built with an indoor basketball court, indoor pool, and all these amazing spaces inside the building. Then it was converted to a YWCA in the 60’s and it operated as a YWCA until a few years before we bought it. We’ve now reinvented it and have these insane suites, an incredible rooftop with a 360-degree view, and we’ve teamed up with the legendary Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne who are LA royalty in the food and drink world. .
And what about the new June Hotel in Malibu?
Let’s talk about the Hotel June brand first. Basically, it’s a more affordable hotel than a Proper hotel, but it still has the same kind of vibe, energy, style, and programming that people love with Proper. We found that there were a lot of great neighborhoods and places where we wanted to create a hotel, but it wasn’t good for the Proper brand. So, we opened our June 1st last year and June 2nd opens on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
The Malibu June is located in the former Native Hotel area. It was originally a motel set up by this couple, the Wilcoxes, in the 1950s. They built this motel when they lived in a tent for years in Point Dume, and they owned and l ‘have managed for decades. They were art lovers, and a bunch of artists, musicians and writers would stay there. Bob Dylan was there when he wrote Blood on the rails in one of the bungalows, and this is how we pay tribute to him. Now we are moving to the next level of what was still sort of a simple roadside motel and we have raised it and upgraded the rooms, added a pool and added food and drink. Malibu is such an iconic getaway for all of us in Southern California, as well as visitors coming to LA, and I think there are maybe only 100 hotel rooms in total in all of Malibu. Plus, the prices are shockingly high. So we took the concept of June, which is to offer whatever we think our guests are looking for, but sort of weed out some of the excesses that would turn that into a hotel over $ 1,000 per night, and d ‘offer this really cool property to the local community and travelers that is fresh and designed and truly feels a part of the soul and spirit of Southern California at a reasonable price.