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R.O.A.R.: How lucky can you get?

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC  Oct 08, 2008

For the past thirty years, I have made a good living doing what I love to do. I am one of the most widely-published hotel consultants in the United States. Yet my entry into the hotel business was a random series of unexpected opportunities. My very first job in a hotel was as the Resident Manager of the Americana of New York (now the Sheraton New York Hotel). The general manager was Tom Troy whose forbearance, patience and training helped me to learn the craft of hotel keeping. Tom had trained earlier in the Statler Hotel Company. His stories about the genius of Ellsworth Statler were stored in my memory bank until I started to write my book: "Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry."

After ten months as second-in-command of this 1840-room convention hotel, I was named the General Manager of the 680-room Drake Hotel on 56th Street and Park Ave. (now a hole in the ground). After two and a half years at the luxurious Drake Hotel, I became the General Manager of the 762-room Summit Hotel at 51st Street and Lexington Avenue (now called the Doubletree Hotel). When the Summit was built in 1969 it was the first new hotel in New York in 30 years and was designed by the famous Florida architect, Morris Lapidus. In a critical comment about its design, a critic said that "it was too far from the beach.”

After three years at the Summit Hotel, I was recruited by the International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation who had recently acquired the Sheraton Corporation of America. After a year as assistant to the ITT Vice President of Consumer Services, I was promoted to Product Line Manager for Worldwide Hotel Services. In the next seven years, I traveled all over the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, the Mideast, Hawaii, the Far East on ITT/Sheraton business negotiating new hotel developments and reviewing all the domestic and international Sheraton Hotels' pro-formas, budgets and profit and loss statements.

During those years, the Dunfey Hotel Company in New Hampshire was Sheraton's largest franchisee. When Dunfey was acquired by the Aetna Life and Casualty, Jack Dunfey asked me to serve as his consultant. This year-long consulting contract enabled me to establish my own hotel consulting company.

During the past thirty years, I have realized more and more that knowledge of the history of the hotel business is essential for anyone interested in a career in the lodging industry. As Confucius wrote, "Study the past if you would divine the future." With the rapid technological changes taking place, it is more than ever important to know where we have been in order to predict where we are going.

I am an emeritus member of the Board of Advisors of the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management. I consider myself fortunate to have been present at the birth of the NYU "hotel" school back in 1997. On the many occasions that I have lectured at the school and elsewhere, I have been struck by the importance of the history of the American hotel industry.

Please keep on the lookout for the publishing of my new book "Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry." It will tell the fascinating stories of John McEntee Bowman, Carl Graham Fisher, Henry Morrison Flagler, John Q. Hammons, Frederick Henry Harvey, Ernest Henderson, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Howard Dearing Johnson, J. Willard Marriott, Kanjibhai Manchhubhai Patel, Henry Bradley Plant, George Mortimer Pullman, A.M. Sonnabend, Ellsworth Milton Statler, Juan Terry Trippe, and Kemmons Wilson.

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC operates his hotel consulting office as a sole practitioner specializing in franchising issues, asset management and litigation support services. Turkel's clients are hotel owners and franchisees, investors and lending institutions. Turkel serves on the Board of Advisors and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. He is a member of the prestigious International Society of Hospitality Consultants. His provocative articles on various hotels subjects have been published in the Cornell Quarterly, Lodging Hospitality, Hotel Interactive, Hotel Online, AAHOA Lodging Business, etc. If you need help in negotiating a franchise agreement or with a problem such as encroachment/impact, termination/liquidated damages or litigation support, call Stanley at 917-628-8549 or email

R.O.A.R.:  How lucky can you get?

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