Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 112

new icons

the entrepreneur

ben weprin
Founder and CEO
Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners (AJ Capital Partners)

A view of the Graduate Ann Arbor's lobby
Photos by CHRISTIAN HORAN

Since starting AJ Capital Partners in 2008,
Ben Weprin has taken the company's name,
Adventurous Journeys, to heart, developing
and renovating hotels that would be on many a
wishlist: Hotel Saint-Barth in the French West
Indies, the Raleigh in South Beach, Calistoga
Ranch in Napa Valley, Soho House Chicago,
Chicago Athletic Association (CAA), and most
recently, the Pontchartrain in New Orleans.
With a knack for rehabbing buildings full
of soul and character (with the help of some
design greats), in 2014, he set out on another
adventure: the launch of Graduate Hotels,
which brings affordable properties with hyperlocal design to underserved college markets-
Tempe, Arizona; Madison Wisconsin; Oxford,
Mississippi; and Athens, Georgia, to name a
few, with plans for 20 hotels by 2019. And he's
only getting started, as it seems whatever the
Midwesterner touches turns to gold. Over the
phone, he and guest editor Jason Pomeranc
chat about how he fell in love with hospitality,
why it's important to think big, and how the
secret to a successful collaboration is as simple
as having a conversation.

112

November 2016 hospitalitydesign.com

How did you get into hospitality?
I had no experience in hospitality but I
was working for prolific entrepreneur and
restaurateur Larry Levy's family office, and he
had just bought the Esperanza Los Cabos; he
acquired the hotel in a partnership and then
bought part of Auberge Resorts, the operating
company. I had humble beginnings-I
certainly wasn't exposed to luxury hospitality. I
went down to the hotel [in Mexico] for the first
time and I was sitting by the pool in my pressed
chinos and blazer and it's 98 degrees. This
woman walks up and asks me if I'd like a foot
massage. Then another woman came around
40 minutes later and offered me a pineapple
popsicle. I thought, 'This is the greatest thing
I've ever experienced in my entire life.' So I fell
in love with hospitality and all of the dynamics
through my exposure with Auberge Resorts.

You launched AJ Capital in 2008. Why
was it the right time?
It was market timing. There was an
opportunity to acquire Larry's interest
in Auberge. I love the brand, I loved the

opportunity, and it was a great segue and
portal to meet a lot of owners and build a
brand around AJ. It gave us a nice competitive
advantage in operating, investing, and how to
align interest and the structural state.

When you started some of your larger
projects-for instance, renovating the
Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France in St.
Barts [later sold to the LVMH group]-it
was in a unique category. You were
going for the super luxury resort
market, which is intimidating to a lot
of owners. Why did you think it was a
sector that you could outperform the
bigger or more experienced real estate
guys at the very early stages of your
company?
Because of the downturn there were more
opportunities in the space that traditionally
haven't traded or never did. We were having
those conversations with people prior to
the recession, so that's where a lot of the
relationships were based. Coming in and
talking to these people and understanding the


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Hospitality Design - November 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - November 2016

Hospitality Design - November 2016
Contents
Online TOC
From the Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Memoir
Places Tel Aviv
Places Jason’s Picks
5 Questions for John Mcdonald
Products
Profile Jono Pandolfi
Lighting
Seating
Wallcoverings
The New Icons
Ad Index
Back Space
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Hospitality Design - November 2016
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover2
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 1
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 2
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 3
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 4
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 5
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 6
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Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 11
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 12
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Contents
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 14
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 15
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 16
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Online TOC
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 18
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 19
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 20
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 21
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - From the Editor
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 23
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 24
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 25
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - From the Guest Editor
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 27
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 28
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 29
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 30
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 31
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 32
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 33
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 34
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Perspectives
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 36
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 37
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 38
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Memoir
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 40
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 41
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 42
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 43
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 44
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Places Tel Aviv
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 46
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Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 49
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 50
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 51
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 52
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Places Jason’s Picks
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 54
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 55
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 56
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 57
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Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 66
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 67
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 5 Questions for John Mcdonald
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 69
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 70
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 71
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 72
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 73
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 74
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Products
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 76
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 77
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 78
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Profile Jono Pandolfi
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 80
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 81
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 82
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Lighting
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 84
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 85
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 86
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 87
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 88
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 89
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 90
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Seating
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 92
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 93
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 94
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 95
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 96
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 97
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 98
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Wallcoverings
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 100
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 101
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 102
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 103
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 104
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - The New Icons
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 106
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 107
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 108
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 109
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Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 141
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Ad Index
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - 143
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Back Space
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover3
Hospitality Design - November 2016 - Cover4
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