At the helm of Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica is CEO and President Tamie Adaya, a student of pop-culture, art, history, politics, more poignantly the world, is revitalizing the principles of what it means to be a Renaissance woman, hotelier, and mother in the 21st century. Adaya’s aptitude in regards to luxury and refinement is the underlying foundation that joins together opulence and simplicity, lavishness, and minimalism. This is illustrated in every facet of her life and career from the crisp, clean lines of the Hotel Shangri-La to her idiosyncratic union of art, fashion, and music. A well-versed traveler, Adaya has afforded herself knowledge of culture and community that most only dream of. From Istanbul to Beirut to Rome; West Coast to East Coast, Adaya offers more than experience through her words, she offers lifestyle.
As the youngest daughter of real estate tycoon and philanthropist Ahmed Adaya (1927–2006), how did he influence how your career has evolved?
My father was the ultimate patriarch who treated everyone including family, friends, employees, and strangers with immense respect and kindness. My father was always very mindful when it came to taking care of the people he worked with, which has informed my approach with Hotel Shangri-La. I’ve tried to adopt my father’s exceptional organizational skills from ironing out kinks in day-to-day operations to long-range planning. My life, out of necessity is highly scheduled, from family time to my social life and philanthropic obligations. Some might find this old-fashioned, but I took to heart my father’s belief that you are only as good as you’re word. Perhaps a 21st century version of this adage is that your business is only as good as the experience people have of your brand. I certainly strive for every guest of the hotel to have the best experience possible.
With Santa Monica such a competitive market for luxury hotels, what approach have you taken since you took over as President and CEO from your father in 2004?
It’s crucial to me that the Shangri-La brand feels elevating, but without being overly formal or stuffy. People want to feel good when they stay at a hotel, but they also want to relax. People want escape, but they also want vibrancy, so on. Shangri-La is where all these things are perfectly reconciled.
A good example of this reconciliation that is central to the Shangri-La brand is our penthouse Rock ‘N Roll suite, which could be described as Deco meets Sex Pistols meet Zen ocean view.
Shangri-La is a nexus of culture, its identity is at the hub of the rejuvenation, it has its own character and personality that’s distinctly unique from any other luxury property that I am aware of.
My goal is to always be 10-15 years ahead of what the rest of the industry is doing and to be an innovator, while curating and maintaining a culture that is unique to Shangri-La and cannot be experienced at any other hotel.
What plans do you have for the future of the hotel?
Shangri-La exists in a continuum, in many ways it hasn’t changed since it opened in 1939. It has, and will always, represent relevancy, timelessness, and individualism.
I’m already planning Shangri-La’s Diamond Jubilee (75th anniversary) in 2014. We’ll be making highly useful and desirable custom, unique, original, limited edition, commemorative products of the highest quality that will be gifted to our guests, but the details of those products are under wraps for now as they are still in development.
I’m proud that Hotel Shangri-La is an important part of Santa Monica’s rich history.
For women looking to advance their career to the level you have achieved, what tips and advice would you give to them?
The key to everything is good planning. You may not be able to achieve your goals as soon as you’d like, or as fast as you’d hope to, but with time you will find like-minded people to work with. I cannot say enough about the team we’ve built at Shangri-La, I feel as we have the best team in the world. There is no question they part of the lifeblood of the hotel. In short, find like-minded people and you will be able to achieve more than you ever dreamed possible.
As a local resident, what do you love most about Santa Monica?
Santa Monica really is a special city. Actually, part of what makes the Shangri-La appealing to visitors from all around the world is their desire to come here. Perched on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, Santa Monica offers both world-class sunsets and romantic moonlit evenings over the pacific. Dining on the oceanfront is always a fantastic experience, and The Blue Plate on Ocean Avenue is a real favorite of mine. Third Street Promenade is one of the best shopping experiences in Los Angeles and Santa Monica Place, the new outdoor shopping experience, is a brilliantly designed facility that has the perfect blend of retail outlets from clothing stores to excellent restaurants.
I have to admit that my favorite Santa Monica activity is perhaps a simple one; walking along the bluffs of Palisades Park. My daily walks are an indispensable part of my routine and also serve as a daily reminder that we live in one of the most livable cities in the US. We should be very proud, I know I am!