Travelers411 Online Exclusive Audio Interview:
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams had the pleasure of meeting Danny Hanley, Founder of Investor Relations and Acquisitions for Distinguished Hotels, at the New York Times Travel Show. Stephanie has visited several Distinguished Hotels properties and always has “great faith in their quality and having her expectations exceeded.”
Danny Hanley is also Owner of Le Grand Lodge at Mont Tremblant, Quebec, just outside of Montreal. Danny built Le Grand Lodge from the ground up in 1997 and opened the hotel in 1999. He intended it as a one-of-a-kind property that couldn’t be duplicated anywhere else in the world.
During the project, his financial partners introduced him to Bill Burruss, currently Managing Partner and President of Distinguished Hotels. Bill and Danny discovered that they shared a passion for boutique hotels. They established Distinguished Hotels to help boutique hotels around the world get the word out about their unique attributes.
There are currently 11 properties in the Distinguished Hotels group, including 4 in the U.K., 2 in Ireland, one in Italy, and one in Spain. The group also has ambassadors in Italy, Spain, western Canada, and South America, so Danny expects their growth to accelerate in the near future.
While in London, Stephanie visited the Cranley Hotel and Sir Christopher Wren's House, both Distinguished Hotels properties and “both lovely, charming, delightful places to stay,” she says. The Wren's House in particular captured her imagination because of its history and location in the shadow of Windsor Castle. “I felt like I was stepping into a period film, being at this serene manor house,” Stephanie says.
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams is also familiar with the two Distinguished Hotels properties in Ireland: the Glasson Hotel & Golf Club and the Mount Falcon Country House Hotel. Located between Galway and Dublin, the Glasson is “a wonderful place with wonderful owners, Tom and Breda Reid,” says Stephanie. And the Mount Falcon, she says, is “a fabulous place.”
“We want to make sure that all our properties have that kind of effect on the people who stay there,” says Danny. What makes a hotel a Distinguished Hotel? Danny explains that each property has something special to offer guests. For example, the Mount Falcon Country House Hotel has a golf course, beautiful grounds, and two miles of private river access for fishing on the River Moy. “It’s beautiful, steeped in history, and the whole family can go and vacation there,” says Danny.
While researching Distinguished Hotels, Stephanie was captivated by the Le Grand Lodge website. Danny says that the whole team contributed to it, but assures listeners that the experience of actually arriving at the hotel is “significantly superior” to anything they feel when looking at the website. He also reassures listeners that Distinguished Hotels' properties will provide that "wow" factor at every single member property.
Le Grand Lodge has a wilderness-themed appeal. Looking at pictures, “you just know there’s a cheery fire in the fireplace,” says Stephanie. “Every day,” replies Danny, adding that they hold campfires on the beach when there’s a full moon. Le Grand Lodge has 100 full condominium suites, complete with balconies overlooking the lake, and 12 hotel rooms. Even though there are 112 suites spread out in a 13,000-square foot Scandinavian log building, there’s a fireplace in each guest room. The log cabin style, fireplaces, and staff create a feeling of intimacy, so the hotel feels much smaller, says Danny. He adds that although the hotel is 3.5 stories high, they built it into the hillside, so it looks as though it’s only 2 stories tall. “It really unfolds and reveals itself to you slowly,” observes Stephanie.
Most other Distinguished Hotels' properties are half the size of Le Grand Lodge. The Sir Christopher Wren House has 58 suites, while the Cannizaro House in Wimbledon has 46. Casa Angelina, on the Amalfi coast of Italy, has only 38 guest rooms.
Instead of looking for a certain number of rooms, Danny says, Distinguished Hotels looks for a particular concept and experience. While Danny Hanley and Bill Burruss have worked tirelessly to secure wonderful properties, they’ve also tried to assemble a great team, Danny explains, and they have great people from the bottom up.
For example, a housekeeper at Le Grand Lodge came up with the idea of a skating path through the woods. She originally proposed a walking path or cross-country skiing trail, but the maintenance team took the idea and ran with it. They carved out the path and flooded it so that guests could skate through the woods. Danny says it’s “very unique and calming,” while Stephanie has visions of Hans Brinker skating along the Amsterdam canals. Even though it was easy and cheap to construct, it’s part of what she calls the “platinum experience,” as opposed to the “plastic experience.”
For more information visit http://www.distinguishedhotels.com
See Distinguished Hotels' Travelers411 Directory Listing at: