Over the years, we’ve learnt that our Originals, individuals who are pushing the boundaries of hospitality, don’t fit neatly into any one category, just like their hotels. They are explorers, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, artists, and beyond—and their stories serve to inspire us. Below is our list of fresh-faced Originals who are continuing to make their marks in the hospitality world.
Sami Lamaa, the traditionalist
Sami Lamaa crafts authentic experiences from emotional memories. That’s why, when the gondola station closed above the hotel and restaurant he owned in the Crans-Montana resort area of the Swiss Alps, Lamaa bought it and transformed it into Chetzeron—a game-changing hospitality statement in Switzerland. It is also why, as a third-generation restaurateur, he wanted to tap into people’s memories through taste by salvaging old Swiss Alpine recipes and serving them in the hotel’s restaurant. “We work that way. To create something authentic, with personal meaning for the customer,” he says.
Lai Guoping, the philosopher
Not only is Lai Guoping’s Sunyata Hotel Meili located in the mystical Snow Mountain region of China’s Yunnan province, his pared-back humble take on the Tibetan culture of the area has resulted in a truly astonishing property—one that gives as much attention to “emptiness” (the Sanskrit word being Sunyata) in spaces to finding beauty in the imperfect. A leading light in the advertising world, the creative entrepreneur wants his guests to reconnect with nature and provides the ultimate Zen spaces from which to do it.
Gabriele Salini and Francesco Petrucci, the art aficionados
In another part of the world, Salento in Italy’s heel to be exact, is another masterpiece of hospitality Palazzo Daniele. This neoclassical contemporary wonder by Gabriele Salini and Francesco Petrucci is part installation, part gallery, and also a meditation on the idea of absences—stripped back interiors that call to mind meditative altars. In the process of opening the hotel, Salini and Petrucci have also converted this charming under-the-radar village into a hot art hub thanks to their lifelong passion and intimate knowledge of the art world.
Rodrigo Machaz, the slow practitioner
Despite spending most of his time catching waves on his surfboard and riding the streets of Lisbon on his Vespa, Rodrigo Machaz is actually one of the slowest guys in the game. Just look to the logo of his Memmo hotels portfolio and you’ll see his spirit animal: a content-looking chameleon, a creature known for moving only a pace or two quicker than the tree it calls home. “But occasionally, they change their scenery and their colors follow,” exclaims Machaz. “And this is me. This is my approach to life, business, and hospitality”.
Nirut Ngamchamnanrith and Vasu Virajsilp, the cultural connoisseurs
Pattaya is known for its mass-market sun-seeking tourism and all-night go-go bars, but there’s a quiet side to the island that’s steeped in culture. Mason is an attempt to both redefine the destination and what a tropical island hotel ought to look like. The beachfront property’s eye-popping Brutalist architecture is an angular nod to the area’s stone carvers and dream-weavers, a concept developed by young Thai entrepreneur Nirut Ngamchamnanrith and award-winning architect Vasu Virajsilp of Vaslab Architecture.
Paul Salmon, the philanthropist
They say that having children makes you care about the world. Such is the case for the successful financier Paul Salmon, who started thinking about what he wanted to do with his life when he had his first child and ended up leaving Wall Street to open the socially and environmentally responsible Rockhouse Hotel and more recently the Skylark Negril Beach Resort in Jamaica. Thanks to Salmon, the Rockhouse Foundation has raised over 5 million dollars and applied it toward transforming the places where Jamaica’s children learn, including supporting six schools and building a library. The result has directly benefitted thousands of lives.
If you enjoyed reading this post, get to know some of our other Originals.