Linda Domingo 2017-12-06 04:40:54
The iconic hospitality brand celebrates 15 years. Fifteen years ago, a resort opened its doors on a picturesque cliff-side location along the Southern California coast. The property captured imaginations and bucked trends, redefining luxury for a new generation of travelers. The resort was Montage Laguna Beach, the first destination from a new brand on a mission. While most high-end hotels and resorts at the time were staid and white-gloved, Montage honed in on a then-revolutionary concept: that luxury could be comfortable, warm and gracious. “I worked in a number of hotels and resorts early on in my career, and I always loved making sure every guest had a unique and distinctive experience,” says Alan J. Fuerstman, founder, chairman and CEO of Montage International. “But I felt that there was something missing in the marketplace. When I started Montage, I invested in the idea that people were seeking a different approach to luxury.” This year, Montage celebrates 15 years of creating one-of-a-kind experiences for guests and residents in extraordinary destinations. As the organization remembers the past decade and a half, Fuerstman continues to look toward to an exciting future. COAST TO COAST In 2002, Laguna Beach was selected as Montage’s first destination, perfectly embodying the brand’s spirit. The community buzzes with creative energy and maintains a small-town feel— even while attracting millions of visitors each year to its pristine coves and beaches. “Laguna Beach will always have a special place in my heart,” Fuerstman says. “It’s unlike any other city in the world, and it’s an honor to be a part of it—it really set the standard for Montage destinations.” Montage Hotels & Resorts now comprises five properties across the United States: In addition to Laguna Beach, Montage Beverly Hills celebrates another side of Southern California right off the famed Rodeo Drive; Montage Deer Valley is a haven among the mountains of Utah; Montage Kapalua Bay offers the best of island life in Maui; and Montage Palmetto Bluff gives guests and residents an authentic taste of coastal South Carolina. “We want to ensure each property is the perfect fit for the community, while adding something new that will excite and inspire,” Fuerstman says of the careful selection process for new hotels and resorts. “Sustainable relationships with community members and the environment is a hallmark of our company that resonates throughout every destination—from bringing in local chefs and ingredients, to offering educational and cultural programming, to supporting local nonprofits.” That concerted effort has made Montage a leader in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the hospitality industry and, most recently, was recognized by the Environmental Media Association. In 2017, Fuerstman received the EMA Corporate Responsibility Award, at an event that also honored Natalie Portman, Russell Simmons, Michael R. Bloomberg and John Paul DeJoria for their dedication to promoting environmental progress and innovation. “There’s a stigma surrounding sustainability— especially in hospitality—in that people think it means ‘less,’ ” Fuerstman explains. “But our properties exist in beautiful, precious parts of the world. And we want to care for those places, long-term. Those values affect everything we do, from beach cleanups to operational policies. Caring for our guests goes hand-in-hand with caring for the environment.” A PATTERN OF INNOVATION While Montage continues to break molds and exceed expectations at its five existing locations, Fuerstman is pushing his vision—and the industry— forward. Opening in 2018, the highly anticipated Montage Los Cabos in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, will present an entirely new set of adventures (and ways to unwind) for residents and travelers, set in picturesque Santa Maria Bay. And, in the tradition of disruption, Fuerstman with his son, Michael Fuerstman, at the helm as co-founder and creative director. Created as a luxury brand for those who are designobsessed with discerning palates, socially adept with a well-worn passport, and looking for something entirely different, Pendry has been making headlines with a location in San Diego’s Gaslamp District and Baltimore’s historic Fell’s Point neighborhood. More openings, including Pendry La Quinta, are on the horizon. “At Montage, we see that gracious hospitality still resonates with so many people and now, we’re seeing more multigenerational families traveling together to our hotels and resorts than ever before,” Fuerstman says. “Pendry has a different appeal, but it’s rooted in the same signature service our team is accustomed to providing.” While the original vision has expanded to include a new brand, the portfolio of destinations has grown and offerings have evolved to meet guests’ changing needs, Fuerstman emphasizes that the intention behind Montage has remained the same: “We just always want to continue building things we believe in, challenging the status quo, and enhancing the guest experience.”
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