BHN talks to Paul McGowan, founder of Study Hotels, a lifestyle hotel brand conceived around the needs of leading university locations.
• Please tell us a little about your background and career history
“I started in the hotel business with ITT Sheraton, working closely with countless developers and franchise owners across the US upgrading their properties. I learned a lot about the business and what it takes to support the capital investment required to be successful in any given market. From there I quickly transitioned into managing large repositioning and new-build projects within the company’s owned portfolio, primarily resorts and convention hotels. When Starwood Hotels bought ITT Sheraton in 1998, my role continued until the launch of W Hotels which then consumed all of my time during my last two years with the company. In 2003, I founded Hospitality 3 as a hotel development firm and took on several large development/redevelopment projects for a select group of private and institutional investors. Study Hotels was then launched in 2008 out of a real estate investment opportunity that I discovered on the Yale University Campus.”
• What initially gave you the idea for a hotel brand based around university locations and what makes the Study Hotel concept unique?
“In 2003, I was touring colleges with my daughter Lauren and couldn’t find decent accommodations near many of the schools we visited. I was intrigued by this and imagined that if we could create a thoughtful place reflective of the quality of the university, consumers would respond. Sensing that university campuses were brimming with positive energy, personality and culture, I realised there was so much material to work with in crafting an authentic, meaningful environment for guests. Not to mention, a customer base that is clearly defined and loyal at its core. The opportunity became clear; start thinking about a brand that was mature, adaptable, intellectual and cultured, without being pretentious or constrained.”
“Study Hotels was then conceived around the idea that each location would be designed to reflect the character of the university while maintaining key brand attributes – comfort, functionality, style, natural light in abundance and a strong pedestrian connection to the campus and local community. The Study at Yale is a great example of how this idea has taken root and the hotel has become an integral part of the school’s culture.”