SAM NAZARIAN, FOUNDER AND CEO, SBE
sbe is one of the world’s fastest growing hospitality companies. SPACE editor Can Faik talks to Founder and CEO, Sam Nazarian, to discover the secret behind the company’s success…
With an uncompromising entrepreneurial instinct and personal style, sbe Founder, Chairman and CEO, Sam Nazarian, is a transformative force in luxury hospitality. In only a decade, Nazarian has defined ‘the scene’ in Los Angeles and beyond, driving sbe to become the creative wellspring for some of the world’s most sought-after luxury lifestyle brands.
What was your background in hospitality prior to launching sbe?
From a young age, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Before founding sbe I worked in the tech industry, co-founding a wireless company that I sold before moving into hospitality.
Where are you based?
I split my time equally between Miami and New York where our three corporate offices are located, but I am ‘based’ globally. Every week I am travelling all over the world visiting our properties, meeting with partners and potential partners in key markets from Las Vegas to Dubai. I’ve recently been spending a lot more time in Europe, the Middle East, and South America where we are developing new projects and establishing new relationships.
What does your current position involve?
As Founder and CEO of sbe, my job is to inspire my team and to support all aspects of the business with a clear vision. I have an incredible executive team made up of industry experts in branding, business development, strategy, operations, design and beyond, and I’m with them every step of the way. I’m passionate about everything we do, and I love seeing what’s happening at every level of the company – from design to the boardroom. This approach lets me understand first-hand the needs of each individual guest, employee, and venue as well as sbe overall.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I’ve spent many years building a brand and company that I am extremely proud of. I enjoy the freedom I have at sbe to innovate with our products and offerings and create new experiences for our guests. Developing new ideas and challenging the status quo in the hospitality sector energises me. Every day I am inspired by the design talents of our partners – DesignAgency, for instance, whom we most recently collaborated with on the opening of Cleo Third Street in Los Angeles. I love what I do and feel fortunate that I get to work with some incredible individuals in the process.
What does sbe have to do to stay one step ahead of its competition?
Our model has always been perfectly straightforward: abandon all conventional wisdom about what a hotel, restaurant, or nightclub should be; formulate new thinking by analysing and anticipating the desires of our clients; forge strategic alliances with the world’s most elite designers, architects, chefs, and developers; and always be sure that the legendary style for which sbe is known for never eclipses the substance of flawless service.
From cuisine to design to residences and hotels to entertainment, sbe creates destinations for our guests with 360-degree experiences they can’t find anywhere else.
What are sbe’s Unique Selling Points?
sbe is about creating a destination. Look at the recently opened SLS Baha Mar – it is a truly spectacular destination that embodies our 360-degree ethos. A hotel with incredible design, award-winning culinary concepts such as Cleo and Katsuya, and unmatched nightlife and entertainment options including Skybar, the first-ever rooftop bar in Nassau, and more. Baha Mar’s shared world-class amenities complete the luxe experience with guest access to the beach and pools, the Caribbean’s largest casino, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf course, and a flagship ESPA spa.
As a true lifestyle hospitality company, we are continuing to grow our residential offerings as well. With the tremendous success we’ve seen with SLS Brickell in Miami, we are currently developing more than 20 hotel projects in the next few years, 13 of which have residences.
What are your plans for sbe in Europe and the Middle East, especially after your latest opening of the design-led Mondrian Doha?
Both markets – Europe and the Middle East – are extremely important for the growth of our brands, including Delano, Mondrian, SLS and Hyde. We have plans to open Delano Dubai in early 2018 with Mondrian Dubai and SLS Doha following in 2019, and Hyde Doha in 2020 to name a few. Additionally, South America is another critical market for us, with an extensive pipeline developing in cities such as Uruguay and Argentina.
Have you noticed any particular trends in hotel interior design?
We are not about trends. Design is an important part of our DNA and a critical part of the overall experience we provide for our guests. Since the beginning, we’ve collaborated with visionary partners such as Philippe Starck, who has designed 12 of our current 23 hotels and all 12 Katsuya restaurants, as well as Marcel Wanders, Yabu Pushelberg, Piero Lissoni, Matthew Rolston, Kravitz Design, DesignAgency, and David Rockwell. Together, we’re creating worlds and enhancing the overall guest experience.