Personalities / Suite Talker: Michael Gross
Suite Talker: Michael Gross
Where travelers lay their heads says a lot about them, and for years the young, moneyed set has pledged allegiance to boutique hotels. It’s fitting, then, that 36-year-old Michael Gross should become the new CEO of Morgans Hotel Group, which oversees the Ames in Boston and its sister properties in New York (Mondrian Soho, Hudson, Royalton, Morgans), Miami (Delano, Mondrian, Shore Club), London (Sanderson, St Martins Lane), Los Angeles (Mondrian) and San Francisco (Clift). Gross’s passion for the hospitality industry is palpable, and his business acumen is no secret to Morgans Hotel Group, as he’s been on its board since 2009. But it’s his “bring it on” bravado that suggests the best is yet to come.
“I feel great about the fact that I sit in the center of what we believe our core customer is,” says Gross. “It’s about a lifestyle. We attract a customer who tends to be more experimental, less conformist. Each of our properties should feel unique. I want us to reinvest in that core asset; we want the personalities of these properties to come back to the surface.”
This mind-set is a perfect fit for the Ames. “Boston has always been a city of independent thinkers,” says Seth Greenberg, who is behind the Woodward restaurant at the Ames. “Michael is already focused on developing higher standards of programming and service at the Ames. He has an impeccable reputation, and his input will certainly result in added value for the hotel and the community.”
Gross and his corporate team are addressing issues large and small—from service and comfort to dining and nightlife concepts, as well as their expanding international presence. Morgans Hotel Group currently manages a hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and is orchestrating a handful of far-flung projects, including Delano properties in Cabo San Lucas and Turkey, and a Mondrian in Doha, Qatar. “We’re all about taking what we have, reinvigorating it, then focusing on growing on a global basis. We’re thinking Four Seasons for the next generation,” Gross says.
Needless to say, Gross—a devoted husband and father of twin girls, with another child on the way—is a busy man. Make no mistake, though, his head isn’t spinning. This new post is a culmination of his greatest interests and strengths. “My older brother and I both went to Cornell hotel school,” Gross says. “During my childhood I spent time in South Africa, Israel and Europe, and I grew up with great exposure. In high school our house was always the one where my friends would hang out after basketball practice. I’ve always liked to host.”
In other words, “I have a dream job, which allows me to combine left brain and right brain,” enthuses Gross. “I’d love to leave a mark.”
Considering what he’s accomplished in a few short months, this seems to be a done deal.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEXANDRA ROWLEY