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July 27, 2009

The Importance of a Good GM

Sherwin
James Sherwin
Photo: Courtesy of the Mark

by Ondine Cohane

As far as I am concerned, you can't overestimate the importance of a good hotel general manager, someone who is responsible for handling  every whim of guests--dealing with any complaint large or small--as well as making sure everything from the restaurant service to room cleanings happens in the most timely, professional, and effortless manner possible.

It may be a cheesy reference, but I always think of the hotel manager in Pretty Woman, who doesn't bat an eyelash at the strange requests of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts and schools her on etiquette (the character was supposedly based on Jack Naderkhani, the general manager of the Raffles L'Ermitage in Los Angeles). James Sherwin is a similar legend in the hospitality business, a charming Brit who used to be the GM at the Carlyle and before that worked at London properties like the Connaught. He is the perfect gentleman and never reveals the secrets of his many celebrity clients--in fact, he is so beloved that he has become a regular fixture on the New York social scene. When he left the Carlyle a couple of years ago to start a consulting business, I wondered where he might pop up next.

This week I got my answer: Sherwin is going to be at the helm of the newly renovated Mark hotel on 77th Street in Manhattan, which just had its soft opening last Monday. Expect a huge overhaul by the fabulous Jacques Grange (he designed many of Yves Saint Laurent's chic retreats and is one of France's most renowned interior designers), a Jean Georges restaurant with 24-hour room service, and a Frédéric Fekkai salon. With Sherwin on board, I bet it is going to be one of the best hotels in New York.

Further reading:
* "Calibrating a Hotel for the Luxury Market," The New York Times on the Mark
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide

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