A Polish family is carving out a stylish niche of boutique hotels in the Florida beachfront destination.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida—It’s a long road from Poland to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but it’s been a fruitful journey for Miroslaw Gzella and his family, through the Gzella Collection of beachside boutique hotels.
When his daughter, Marta Gzella-Plata, first visited Fort Lauderdale as a student, she knew she would be back, and she convinced her family to make the move from Poland. Fast forward to 2013, when Marta and her husband Pawel Plata (co-founder and operator of Gzella Collection) began their real estate endeavors in Fort Lauderdale, opening the Fortuna Hotel and then The Ikona Hotel.
The collection has two boutique properties open in Fort Lauderdale and a third, Mirra Hotel, set to open next year. HNN asked Plata about the company’s legacy and its plans for its adopted home town.
HNN: Tell us the history of the company and its founding family.
Plata: “For many years, my wife Marta and her family, the Gzella family, would always travel from Poland to Fort Lauderdale for vacation. Once we got married, we visited the city together, and I, too, fell in love with the city. I felt an instant connection and was completely charmed by the history, architecture and unique personality of this tropical paradise. In 2013, we decided to move to Fort Lauderdale, the place that held such a special place in our hearts, and we chose to continue my wife's entrepreneurial family's legacy by starting a Gzella family company in the United States. We started with some successful real estate endeavors until, ultimately, we purchased three former beachside motels in the heart of the Fort Lauderdale beach scene, minutes from the famous Las Olas Boulevard. Instead of completely redeveloping the properties, we chose to maintain the integrity of the original 1950s architecture while renovating the guestrooms to offer the modern amenities that guests expect. In honor of my wife's family, we named it Gzella Collection. That's how Gzella Collection was born.”
HNN: What’s the boutique hotel scene like in Fort Lauderdale these days?
Plata: “Fort Lauderdale used to be a city filled with only mom-and-pop hotels and big hotel chains. Until now, with the introduction of Gzella Collection, there weren't any upscale boutique hotels in the area. Today's travelers are independent-minded and are more than ever seeking local adventures, authentic experiences and equally intimate and personalized services that are hard to find at big hotel chains. Smaller hotels like us, on the other hand, have the freedom to create a new level of custom experiences and service intimacy found only in boutique lodging. We saw the need to fill that void–for more personalized lodging options—within the hotel industry in Fort Lauderdale. The boutique hotel movement is stronger than ever and we are excited to be at the forefront of this travel lifestyle trend within the city of Fort Lauderdale. A flurry of development has made Fort Lauderdale South Florida's newest travel escape.
HNN: So what sets Gzella Collection apart from its competitors?
Plata: “Unlike many overdesigned and generic hotels, The Gzella Collection stands out for artfully preserving the historical authenticity and original mid-century modern architecture of the hotels while creating rooms that offer all of the modern amenities, technology and stylish design that travelers deserve and expect. Guests staying at our properties are not just another number; they are greeted by name and receive curated recommendations for travel activities and dining options to enjoy during their trip. We are eco-conscious and opt for smart tech, including electronic hotel key cards and LED lights; smart design like high-thread-count sheets, state-of-the-art coffee machines, including Nespresso and Keurig; and space-efficient, convertible furniture like standing mirrors that turn into storage space and nightstands that turn into desks.”
HNN: What’s in store for the future?
Plata: “We plan to open Mirra Hotel, Gzella Collection's third property, nestled between the Ikona and Fortuna hotels, in the third quarter of 2017. It was formerly the renowned 1950s-era Martindale Motel.”