Hotelie Magazine

Hotelie Fall 2012 no classnotes

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by Susan Salter Reynolds Hotelies Afield Eloise: The next generation Room Service! Amruda Nair, MMH '07, cousin Samyuktha, and sister Aishwarya stand behind grandparents Krishnan and Leela Nair poolside at the Leela Mumbai. Leela is holding brother Aushim. Chances are, these are the first words that come to mind when you picture Eloise, the imperious six-year-old denizen of New York's Plaza Hotel, who was brought to life in 1955 by author Kay Thompson and illustrator Hilary Knight. Their first book, Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-ups, introduced a refreshingly different child protagonist, a little girl who crayoned walls, combed her hair with a fork, called a valet to iron her sneakers, pretended to be an orphan so hotel guests would pity her and give her treats, fiddled with the thermostats, hid in the Grand Ballroom, careened around hallways, and generally owned the place. Eloise was raised by her ever-indulgent Nanny with companionship from her pug, Weenie, and her turtle, Skipperdee; a poster child for the ultimate hotel experience. Home away from home, with benefits. Ultimate freedom. Where were her parents? And what would it be like to be Eloise? Jason Cotter '03 (the tall boy with glasses, back row center) celebrated his twelfth birthday by baking cakes with the chef of the Waldorf Astoria. Afterwards, the boys played hide-andseek in the Grand Ballroom. At right is Jason's father, Richard '77. 14 School of Hotel Administration We spoke with some real-life Eloises: Jason Cotter '03, Amruda Nair, MMH '07 and her sister, Aishwarya, and Alexandra Jaritz '97. Not only did they grow up in hotels (steeped in hotel cultures)—all four chose to go into the hospitality business. What sort of gravitational pull did these mostly fabulous childhoods exert on their career choices? What were the pros and cons of hotel life for these children and teenagers? And how did that life prepare them for the hospitality industry? Jason is a fourth-generation hotelier. His parents, Richard '77 and Judith '77, met and fell in love at Cornell, marrying before graduation from the School of Hotel Administration. His father was a general manager (and later the man in charge of all East Coast Starwood hotels); his mother ("a foodie") also worked for many years in the business. Jason grew up primarily in New York hotels: the former Omni, then Sheraton, in Manhattan (as the Omni, it was the first hotel he lived in; as the Sheraton, it was the last), the Waldorf Astoria, the New York Palace, and the St. Regis, with a few years at the Beverly Hilton. That's a lot of elegance for a small child, and before our interview, Jason confessed, friends and family warned him of the possibility of sounding too privileged—Eloise was, for all her lovability, a bit of a spoiled brat! Jason, it is clear from our conversations, is not. Alexandra's parents met and fell in love in a hotel—when her mother worked in public relations for InterContinental in Germany and her father was in food and beverage operations. Alexandra was born in Germany but grew up in Malaysia, Jordan, Dubai, Thailand, and India. "The first time I lived outside of a hotel," she said, "was in my college dorm at Cornell!" Alexandra was always conscious of the world outside the lobby—the beauty, the variety, but also the poverty and political unrest. Consciousness of others—their goals and dreams—has informed her work, particularly when it comes to under

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