‘We are a small group trying to do big things’

DAVID Stein, the man behind the Stein Group, speaks to KIM THOMSON about his company and himself

David Stein is the visionary who created the Stein Group, a name synonymous with exceptional standards of luxury, elegance and service, built around a philosophy of combining the best elements of the European lifestyle with the convenience of today’s modern world.

The group was created in 1992 as a general real estate company, but has specialised in the acquisition and development of small luxury lifestyle hotels and related properties in Europe over the past several years. The company’s portfolio currently comprises 14 luxury hotel properties in five European countries, but the intention is to hold between 20 to 25 small, exclusive, luxury hotels focused in the northern Mediterranean and in selected European capital cities over the next five years. He is also the man behind the development of the luxury brand called the Luxury Lifestyle Hotels & Resorts.
Stein spoke to TTN about himself, his plans for the group and more. Excerpts from an interview:

As the visionary who created the Stein Group, how do you feel realising your dream to set up a truly small luxury boutique hotel?
Very excited. I’ve been working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life mostly because I’m really enthralled by how it brings together a lot of things I’ve been doing throughout my career. We really started about three-and-a-half years ago with our second hotel and now we are up to 14, which really shows that there is that niche. I think it is important that we do show that kind of growth because it gets people believing in the project.

How do your properties score with other boutique hotels?
There are very few branded small luxury hotels. And sometimes the understanding what defines these hotels as boutique is difficult because I’ve heard the term boutique used for thousand-room hotels, but for me that implies rooms between a dozen and 125. So first of all they are that size not because we don’t like big hotels but we feel we can’t deliver the service that we feel is essential – something very much more personal and friendly and sincere. Past that 125-room point I think you have to become more mechanical or more robotic.

Where do you plan to take your hotels from here?
Well we wanted to build really the critical mass first in Europe, which would be about 25 hotels on the continent. We are a small group trying to do big things, we are experts in areas we feel comfortable with.
New York is one idea because we feel that would give us a springboard into the American market. The Middle East is another area with tremendous opportunity for personal service as opposed to much of the robotic service available. Small luxury lifestyle hotels lets us give people a chance to feel more of the culture and not something artificial, and if we do that in the Middle East I think that will help the group get the kind of clients out of there that are also looking for that kind of service. I think there are people that would like that, both among the local and expatriate communities.

Are you participating at the ATM this year to announce that?
Well we are going to. We are also participating for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, our representative in acquisition and development, Dominic Sealy will represent us. We are participating just for that reason.