Wed. Dec 7th, 2022

It’s hard not to notice that The Standard Hotels are popping up everywhere, and the woman behind this accelerated growth? Well, it’s Amber Asher.

Having kicked off her career in law within the Finance and Real Estate realms, she honed in on the hospitality sector at Morgans Hotel Group. Here, as Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President, she oversaw all legal matters related to development, operations, intellectual property, employment, food and beverage, and financing.

Fast forward ten years and she joined Andre Balazs Properties as Executive Vice President and General Counsel; and having proven to be a force within the hospitality industry, she now serves as Chief Executive Officer of Standard International. Here, not only has she further built, engrained and led the expansion of the Standard brand, but she’s also led corporate transactions, including the purchase of a majority stake in The Bunkhouse Group, the formation, launch, and VC investment of One:Night and the capitalization of the company by Sansiri. That’s no mean feat.

Amber shares her career journey into the world of hospitality, global expansion, and what the ‘guest experience’ really means to her.

Felicity Carter: Tell us about your journey into the hospitality industry via law?

Amber Asher: I started my career as a real estate and finance lawyer at Latham & Watkins in NYC when I was 25. In 2008, I went in-house to Morgans Hotel Group as Associate General Counsel, just months before the recession. That was quite a ride. The economic disruption turned the hospitality business upside down, and we faced many challenges. The lessons learned during those years were formative and prepared me for situations like a global pandemic. In 2011, I was on maternity leave with my first daughter when I was recruited to become General Counsel and EVP for Andre Balazs Properties. At the time, Andre owned The Standard brand and luxury properties like the Chateau Marmont, The Mercer and Sunset Beach. Eventually, I was involved in making the deal to acquire Chiltern Firehouse in London. In 2013, I represented Andre in selling the majority stake of The Standard brand to a group led by Amar Lalvani, our current Executive Chairman and former CEO. The day after the deal closed, I, along with most of the team, started working for Standard International—the new company Amar created to grow the Standard brand globally. Almost a decade later, our dreams are really coming to life.

FC: What does your role entail?

AA: Everything. I’ve been lucky to wear many hats through my 11 years with the company. I lead all disciplines within the organization, but one of my biggest focuses has been growing and developing our team to bring incredible projects to life around the world. Collectively, we’re very focused on global growth for The Standard and our other amazing brands, Bunkhouse and Peri. It’s important that we are always innovating as a hospitality brand. Our team is uniquely creative, and I work hard to offer them the guidance and the resources they need to be successful in delivering best-in-class design, culinary, cultural programming and service for our guests and our owners. Finding new deals and growing the footprint of our Standard, Bunkhouse and Peri brands is also a major part of my role. We have three really special, distinctive brands within the Standard International Management portfolio and are committed to growing them on a global scale.

FC: What are the cornerstones of The Standard International?

AA: We believe in community and culture and are committed to delivering the best possible guest experience through every touchpoint: our thoughtful and dynamic staff, our provocative design, our innovative culinary expertise, and our partnerships with emerging talent and programming.

FC: What does ‘guest experience’ mean to you?

AA: It’s like hosting a dinner party. Knowing your guest matters and delivering an authentic, welcoming experience that both surprises and delights guests are crucial to keeping them coming back. From design to culinary offerings and cocktail programs, lighting, music, interactions with our team and the over-arching social dynamic, we deliver a 360-degree experience. Guest experience is everything. It’s why we do what we do.

FC: How do you see hotels evolving?

AA: We’ve developed unique offerings that cater to adventurous guests, especially those with the flexibility to pack up their laptops and live at The Standard, Maldives or The Standard, Hua Hin for weeks, or even months. With our Stowaway program, guests can enjoy significant discounts, upgrades, flexible check-in and check-out times and even a personal concierge when booking a long-term stay. More hotels will embrace this type of model to cater to the evolving workforce. We’re already seeing it.

FC: In the fast-paced and demanding world of hospitality, what keeps you motivated?

AA: I’m motivated by our mission for global expansion (bringing Standard brands to the world), my team, and my children. I have two young daughters who have grown up as The Standard has grown up, and they inspire me to model strong leadership, hard work and compassion every day. Professionally, I strive to foster an inspiring workplace where talent is grown from within and to deliver value to our guests, owners and shareholders through operational excellence and efficiency.

FC: How do you see the company developing, and what new outposts do you have planned?

AA: We’re on a path for global expansion for the Standard, Bunkhouse and Peri brands. Over the last few years, The Standard has opened hotels in London, the Maldives, Hua Hin and Ibiza: Our Asia flagship in Bangkok will open this year. Bunkhouse and Peri are actively developing projects around the world, as well. At the same time, we’re very focused on domestic growth. Cities like Austin, Nashville, Detroit and Los Angeles are all on our list. Residences are a new vertical we are exploring. The Standard Residences, Midtown Miami, is already 70% sold, and a new residential project in Lisbon will be launched soon. Beyond these projects, we are beginning to play in the tech space again, developing experience-enhancing tools for the modern, nomadic traveler. More on that soon!

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