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GM redefines luxury in new normal
March 22 2013

As GM of the Montage Beverly Hills, Hermann Elger blends old-world refinement with casual elegance to satisfy the changing tastes of guests.

  • Hermann Elger is GM of the Montage Beverly Hills.
  • The GM was born with hospitality in his blood; he grew up in hotels that his father ran.
  • Elger empowers his associates to go above and beyond for guests.


BEVERLY HILLS, California—Nestled above Scarpetta restaurant in the Montage Beverly Hills lies £10, an upscale whiskey bar that showcases the finest offerings from the Macallan distillery. Admittance is by appointment only, but the foresight is worth the wait. Not only are the spirits worth savoring, but so too are the complementary details: hand-crafted Lalique crystal glassware, bespoke furniture, exotic wood carvings.

£10 blends the high-class concepts of classic hospitality with the casual ease of modern elegance. It’s luxury redefined. And it’s Hermann Elger’s baby.

Montage’s GM is keenly aware the tastes of travelers are changing. White-gloved waiters overseeing three-hour dinners might have been en vogue 40 years ago, but they would never fly today, he told from the Montage’s Parq Bar.

“Things are moving much more quickly,” he said.

Does that mean guests are less discerning? Hardly, the GM said.

“I think they’re more demanding just because there’s more demands on them. They are under more pressure,” Elger said.

That means hoteliers can’t cut corners.

“To assume that a guest no longer wants to receive their room service using fine china or the details of the flower on the room service table … just because they’re in a hurry is incorrect. They want all of that, but they want it in 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes,” he said.

£10 is the embodiment of this shift. The bar also represents Elger’s own fascination with small, intimate experiences.

“It’s an example of taking traditional old-world elegance and service and combing it in an … innovative setting,” he said.

In his blood
Elger does not just work at a luxury hotel. He’s fascinated by it.

“I like to see what the newest luxury properties are doing out there. I’m a fan of small, very relevant hotels to the destination.”

That interest is in his blood. The GM grew up in hotels, watching his father run properties first in Mexico and then at a Colorado ski resort.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up in the business living in hotels,” Elger said. “I had a good familiarity from a very young age … and was fortunate enough to know that was what I always wanted to do.”

He tries to mirror his own enthusiasm on his own three young children—or at least give them a cursory glance into his world.

“You’re running a business that never closes,” Elger said. “For me it’s important that the children see a little bit of what we do and experience it as well so they have an understanding of why their dad is gone at odd hours and works so much. … When most people are resting is when the guests are looking to use the hotel. The hotel gears up in the evening when everyone else goes home.”

Running the show
Also appealing is the enormous responsibility granted in the role of GM, Elger said.

“It’s a validation from an ownership group that they trust you enough to put their asset in your hands and also put a large group of associates in your hands,” he said.

The key to overseeing so many people? Seeing them off. Elger gives his associates a long leash, empowering them to ensure a 5-star experience for guests.

“The Montage philosophy is very important here. It’s about the associates being able to analyze the guest and find ways to engage with them that are not scripted. … It’s about working with the associates and putting them less in a box as far as how they need to deliver service and more allowing them to be in tune with the guest and really listening.”

The GM does not give such freedom to just anyone. The Montage’s management team takes a deliberate approach with each and every new hire. First comes talent. Just as important is that willingness to serve, he explained.

From there, it’s train, train and train.

“It’s a question of experience and just building off of each and every interaction,” Elger said. “It’s also trusting your associates and letting them to have—to some extent—free reign to resolve a situation or go over the top for a request.”

gerry villalobos
3/28/2013 3:56:00 PM
I know Mr.Elger for many years and i have been very lucky to work under such a fine and profesional gentelman, he is one of the best GM ever seen, if you are looking for a first class experience vacation please visit The Montage Beverly Hills you will know then the meaning of VIP expression at its best!!!
Karen Taylor
3/25/2013 3:12:00 PM
It is refreshing to see that hospitality is returning to a guest centric view. For a long time the pendulum swung so far away from this basic tenet. The industry investors viewed hotels as the same as any other "product" based offer. This even became reflected in the design of interiors, which were all about statement, and very little about guest comfort or even basic needs. How often have you wanted to sit in a lobby.... to find it filled with fountains and no chairs! Four Seasons was one of the few who got the balance right. It is so absolutely about people. And it so definitely starts with leadership and the team. This is not the preserve of the elite. It can be delivered at any face to face contact anytime, anywhere. Making a real difference to peoples lives. That is the joy, and "art" of hospitality.
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