In our series of insider interviews with hoteliers, we caught up with Philip Truelove (what a name!) – GM at Bob de Niro’s super-cool hangout, The Greenwich Hotel in New York – to find out what makes him tick and reveal some behind-the-scenes goings-on (You lookin’ at me?). The Greenwich is located in – clue’s in the name folks – Greenwich Village, just north of TriBeCa, and is one of Mr & Mrs Smith’s favourite New York boutique hotels.
Introduce yourself to our captive audience: tell us who you are, where you are, and what you do…
My background is influenced by a multitude of countries: I was born in Sri Lanka, educated in Europe and, as well as working in both London and Paris, have worked in three major US cities – Washington DC, Los Angeles and, of course, New York. I have owned an Inn on an island in Maine for the last 13 years and am General Manager at the Greenwich Hotel, New York.
What makes the Greenwich Hotel so special? How would you describe its style?
Its style is diverse and influenced by many areas of the globe. It is a labour of love – a true individual – and has been created with great attention to detail and to exceptional comfort.
I would have to say one of our great Duplex Suites – not only for their comfort and space but also because they are flooded with natural light from windows which soar 30 feet from floor to ceiling. Otherwise, it would very much depend upon whether I am with my family or staying on my own – I love our rooms which have the very bright Moroccan tile in the bathrooms (pictured left) – one can retreat into these spaces and imagine that one is on the other side of the globe!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found in one of your rooms after a guest has left? Or tell us about a special request you’ve handled for a guest.
That would be telling – what we find remains one of the great secrets! My experience of special requests are endless but I have to say were far more interesting years ago than they are now. The great eccentrics are a dying breed, sadly.
What trends do you expect to see taking off in hotels in future?
Our plans for the Greenwich are too establish it as one of the great individuals – it is a new hotel and therefore still forming its identity. As has already been started the trend will be to more individuality in hotels rather than the group identity – equally, ‘green’ must be in all our futures.
A true understanding of hospitality, a sense of discretion, loyalty, humanity and a sense of humour. The Mercer is well established and the Greenwich is a new hotel, both are individuals and both are wonderful, but, as with any newborn, the mode of operation is different.
Aside from your own, what’s your favourite hotel, and why?
I could come up with a very long list and I will intentionally not consider another hotel in New York, but I would say that The Connaught in London and Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles are very high on my list.
If you didn’t run a hotel, what would you do?
Write about them!
What restaurants and attractions in the area around the Greenwich Hotel do you recommend when guests ask? Where do go when you don’t fancy eating at the hotel restaurant?
TriBeCa has many great restaurants, covering a spectrum of styles and affordability. Rosanjin is exceptional as a Japanese restaurant: a truly unique experience. Odeon is a long-established favourite in TriBeCa, as is Buby’s for breakfast. Equally both Bouley and Nobu are great favourites and very near neighbours to the Greenwich. One of our great assets is that we are just one block from the river where New York has created a wonderful park along its bank – walking, jogging and cycling there are all a joy.
If you could work in any destination in the world, where would you choose and why?
New York is very hard to replace as a desired destination but… somewhere with golden sands and a very warm ocean in which to swim!
What do you do when you’re not at work? Where do you go on holiday and do you find it hard to switch off?
A great vacation spot would be somewhere the sun shines, the water is warm and the sand is soft – we love the islands of the South Seas. Otherwise family and friends are a high priority. With a business that is open 24/7, there has to be one ear on the baby at all times!
What do you never leave home without?
My watch and, I hate to say it, but my BlackBerry!
What’s the first thing you check out when you’ve checked into a hotel?
The bed: ultimately a good night’s sleep is the most important thing that can be offered in a hotel room.
Truelove – that name’s a dream come true where romance is concerned! What’s the most romantic thing you’ve done with your partner?