To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we’re circling back to the topic of women in hospitality to take a look at some of the bold, innovative women at the helm of our member hotels. Each of the hoteliers below—spanning the globe from the United States to Antwerp to Israel—have vastly different backgrounds but are united in their vision to deliver site-immersive, original hospitality.
Mouche Van Hool
August, Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp has been home to baroque superstar painters as well as fashion moguls. It’s also home to Mouche Van Hool, who is quietly revolutionizing the hotel world in her city. Van Hool opened the capital’s first boutique hotel in 2004, Hotel Julien—two renovated 16th-century townhouses that had guests queueing at the door. Now with her second hotel, August—a former Augustinian monastery—she aims to represent the changing face of this trendsetting city.
Istoria, Santorini, Greece
Considering “Istoria” is Greek for story, it makes sense that its owner, Kalia Eliopoulos, is a master storyteller who weaves a fascinating tale of how she and her husband Antonis came to be at the helm of three hotels on Santorini island. It is perhaps the third tale—that of Istoria—which is most intriguing and involves a Greek-Italian woman who was once pursued by the King of Jordan. But as fascinating as the past may be, Eliopoulos—a former PR professional with a sharp eye for detail—hopes that the hotel will enable guests to create new stories on the glistening black-sand coast of Santorini.
Ca’ Pisani, Venice, Italy
Marianna Serandrei is in her element at Ca’ Pisani. The eldest member of the fourth generation of her family’s Venetian hotelier dynasty, Serandrei opened the first boutique hotel in Venice and has used her passion and expertise in art and art history to create—via word-of-mouth—the go-to hotel for guests of the Biennale. A night at Ca’ Pisani could unfold into an illuminating talk with an acclaimed artist, the launch of a keenly awaited book, or the unveiling of a much-anticipated exhibition.
Piazza Hospitality, United States
Circe Sher has a strong hospitality heritage. Born to a real estate and restaurant family, Sher spent more than two decades in public relations and marketing before finding her way to hospitality and co-founding Piazza Hospitality. A love for the arts, a sense of social and environmental responsibility, and a deep appreciation for Northern California’s bounteous Sonoma wine country has resulted in two sustainably forward-thinking properties—Hotel Healdsburg and, more recently, Harmon Guest House on the fringe of Healdsburg’s central plaza.
Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel, Zichron Ya’akov, Israel
Lily Elstein has spent much of her life promoting culture in Israel, sitting on boards of various cultural institutions such as the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Her biggest dream was opening Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel, a project that took all of Elstein’s patience and a good deal of her personal wealth. She saved the famed building that now houses Elma from demolition and transformed it into a cultural calling card in the seaside village of Zichron Ya’akov.