Hospitality's Global Impact
Erich Steinbock, The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel

Erich Steinbock

The Hallmarks of The Carlyle

Editors’ Note

Erich Steinbock joined Rosewood Hotels & Resorts following 11 years with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. After joining the hotel group as Food & Beverage Director at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Steinbock became General Manager of several properties within the collection. He spearheaded the opening of 14 Ritz-Carltons, both domestically and internationally. Steinbock also served as Vice President of Food & Beverage at the Ritz-Carlton corporate office. Most recently, he served as General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. He began his career as a waiter’s apprentice in Vienna. Steinbock earned his M.B.A. from City University of Seattle in Vienna.

Property Brief

Since its completion in 1930, The Carlyle has been a fixture on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The legendary 35-story hotel (www.thecarlyle.com) boasts 188 individually appointed rooms and suites – some with grand pianos, private terraces, and Central Park views – and has been called home by leaders in world affairs, business, society, and entertainment. The property is managed by Dallas-based Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and is home to the popular Café Carlyle and Bemelmans Bar.

When you look at the past 24 months, how much of an impact broadly did you see on travel and tourism for the hotels in New York City and where is the market today?

I don’t spend much time looking at the entire New York City market, because the Upper East Side is so separate – it’s almost like we are in a different town.

So the Upper East Side has seen some very nice growth, year over year; we’re looking to have a significant RevPAR increase in 2011.

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The Carlyle Lobby

With such a strong suite product, is there a very different feeling suite to suite or is there some consistency?

There is a consistency in terms of concept, which is the Upper East Side quintessential New York experience. Like an apartment building, you could have wonderful designs that are not necessarily of the same time period or style, but they all share the sense of quality and elegance.

Some are more timeless contemporary and some are classic in the style of when The Carlyle was built, which was 1930.

One thing we have maintained throughout The Carlyle is the wood floors. Some of the imperfections of those wood floors give that homey feel for which The Carlyle is known.

The Carlyle is more of a residential property and you feel like a resident when you walk into your room.

The Upper East Side competitive set has a handful of properties all going after a similar client. How do you differentiate in that space and can you talk about what has made The Carlyle so special?

The Carlyle is the iconic hotel of the Upper East Side. One of the hallmarks of a great hotel is not only that the employees know the guests by name, but it’s that the guests know the employees by name. That is one of the hallmarks of The Carlyle.

Our average tenure for employees is about 14 years. They have become part of the family for our regular guests and our return business is tremendous.

The other thing that makes The Carlyle stand on its own is the experience, which we define by how people feel about themselves when they walk into the place, while they stay here, or when they have a function of significance at The Carlyle. “I’m staying at The Carlyle” is something people say with pride. The same pride comes from the employees.

A guest of ours became a grandfather a couple of weeks ago, so through sources, we got a picture of his new grandchild and put it on his nightstand before he checked in. Sometimes it’s the small touches that make the big difference. Most of our customers have enough money to buy whatever they want. What they’re looking for is what money cannot buy – relationships, genuine care, and the feeling that their well-being is more important to us than doing business.

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Bemelmans Bar

Does the next generation of younger successful players understand what The Carlyle can offer? How do you capture that market?

We now have the children and grandchildren who have stayed here with their parents coming back on their own.

But we’re also riding a wave of desire to go back to tradition. Sleek and hip seems to have reached its peak and a traditional sense of quality has come back. At least we feel it, and because of that, we see nice growth, not just in the hotel, but also in the food and beverage area.

How critical is it to have the local community support the food and beverage arena and how have you been successful with that in your venues?

Café Carlyle has given us so much exposure into local and international markets. It fulfills a hotelier’s dream of having as much of a public relations push as we get.

We have top stars performing nightly in a wonderful Cabaret setting with dinner – there are only a couple of places left in town that do that. We’ve been super successful with the talent that has performed there. Café Carlyle isn’t just about the show – it’s the whole experience as you walk to your table set for dinner served by well-trained and professional people or sit and have an in-depth conversation with the bartender before the show.

Bemelmans is the watering hole on the Upper East Side. Many people tell me they got engaged or met there. The Loston Harris Trio has been performing nightly for us for quite a few years.

Do your guests expect a spa product like Sense and does a luxury property have to offer that experience today?

Yes, it would be very hard to have a luxury hotel without a spa. It’s something that people expect as an amenity.

Not only do we have the spa, but we have been extremely successful with our hair salon with Yves Durif, who is one of the famous hairstylists in New York. We’re now planning on expanding the hair salon. It brings great clientele in and Yves is a true master.

How critical is it for you to have owners who invest in the property and partner in your efforts?

We are very fortunate. We have an ownership that has taken a long-range view, and the attention to the quality of everything we do always comes first before we talk revenues and profits.