Ben Pundole just launched his recent endeavor, a website devoted to what he knows best – the ins and outs of hotel life. His website, aptly titled AHotelLife, documents what readers want to know about his favorite properties around the globe. To congratulate the hotel expert, we asked him a few question about the debut of his latest project.
Life+Times: You just launched AHotelLife – can you tell me a little bit about the concept behind your latest endeavor?
Ben Pundole: AHotelLife is a site dedicated to celebrating Lifestyle hotels and the people who create and work in them. There are a lot of sites dedicated to film, fashion, music, art and food, but very little online editorial dedicated to great hotels. I wanted to present a site that’s interesting to the fashion lifestyle world as much as to the industry folk.
L+T: What differentiates AHotelLife from other similar concepts that currently exist? What makes yours unique and different?
BP: Every other hotel site is either a booking engine trying to sell you rooms or a travel site with a hotel section. Then there are the industry sites and blogs, most of which are really dry and technical. AHotelLife will introduce you to the designers, chefs, and creative geniuses behind lifestyle hotels.. we will never bore you with the technical stuff. We’re not taking ourselves too seriously and will only include hotels on the site we like.. we have no intention of reviewing a hotel we wouldn’t recommend to our friends.
L+T: What propelled you to launch this? Did you see a void in the market?
BP: I’ve worked in the Boutique/Lifestyle hotel business for 20 years, love it and am proud of it. I have a ton of cool friends who also do. It’s time to celebrate what we do. I don’t think there’s anything else like it.
L+T: If you had to choose your top 5 favorite hotels around the globe – what would they be? Why?
BP: Hotel Nord Pinus in Arles, South of France – Where Picasso and his friend Dominguin (famous matador) used to stay when watching bull fights in the town, partying, boozing, now a mecca for great photographers and collectors for the annual photo expo.
Soho House, Berlin. Luxurious rooms, great room service, incredible spa, a welcome sanctuary in the city with the worlds best parties!
Hotel Cabachon, Bangkok: Only 10 rooms in an old colonial house down a nondescript side street, incredible service and a rooftop lawn to escape the city madness
Zetter Townhouse, London: Like being in your favorite kooky/eccentric aunts house. One of the best cocktail bars (by Colebrooke 69) in London on the ground floor, ping pong in the basement, full English breakfast to help the hangover.
Taj Palace, Mumbai: Steeped in history, where Ravi Shankar taught John Lennon to play the sitar, an incredible 30ft mural by famed Indian artist Hussain behind the front desk, visited by presidents, dignitaries and celebrities for hundreds of years
L+T: What is it about hotels that you find so magical? I often find that people ‘become somebody else’ when they stay in a hotel.
NP: A great hotel has a firm focus on experience from the minute you pull up outside, the design, music, service, art, mini bars, food, events, a signature color or smell. Whether you’re staying for business or pleasure they should always have the ability to transport the guest to a different place or character.
L+T: You were educated at London’s infamous Groucho Club. What was that experience like?
BP: Legendary – it was 4 years of the best learning experience ever. It was London in the early/mid nineties, the Gallagher’s, Blur, McQueen, Kate Moss, the YBA’s, especially Damien Hirst. Literary geniuses like Will Self and Martin Amis, advertising gurus, TV ‘personalities’ The madness was unimaginable!
L+T: You currently hold the position of VP Brand Experience with Ian Schrager/Marriott’s EDITION hotels. Tell me a little bit about your position?
BP: The position is an extension of Ian’s vision, helping to create the desired elevated guest experience through Restaurants, bars, nightlife, events to social media, music and mini bars. Anything the guest ‘touches’ or experiences should be the best it can possibly be.
L+T: What has Ian taught you that you’ve taken with you throughout your career?
BP: You can’t always measure or quantify the “magic” created in hotels. Remain focused and ruthless in the pursuit of excellence.