At the corner of First and Main is a hotel where the guests and the staff have a big thing in common: They’re young. Or at least they’re youthful minded.
But make no mistake – there’s no goofing off involved in the management of Aloft Louisville Downtown.
General Manager Brandt Tiffany, 31, keeps reminding himself that on one hand, he’s just a few years out of the blocks along the professional track. And on the other, he’s responsible for a property that pulls in more than $9 million in annual revenue. It’s a balance between staying aware of how much there’s left to learn and keeping the confidence to lead.
Assistant General Manager Matt Bristow is 28, and Director of Sales Lauren Jenney is 35.
“That’s the cool thing,” says Tiffany. “Lauren, myself and Matt just have to check each other every once in a while. We’ve got to look at each other [and say], ‘OK, we are millennials operating a $9 million business right now.’ To some people that can be intimidating, to some people that can be exciting, but you have to balance the intimidating with exciting. It keeps you on your toes. But there are not a lot of other three-executive millennial teams that are operating $9 million businesses.”
The eight-story, 175-room hotel opened a little more than a year ago on the former site of Marine Electric, uniquely designed to sync with the downtown streetscape. The building incorporated part of the old building’s facade along with several energy-saving features. The hotel is Louisville’s first to earn certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Before becoming Aloft’s director of sales, Jenney rose through the ranks at other hotels. Having always admired the Aloft brand, she was a natural fit when that brand arrived in Louisville.
“I was on this project when it was literally just concrete and steel and not even built yet,” she recalls. And that makes all the more satisfying the result of “seeing guests that come back week after week after week and those guests be so pleased with the service and the product that they’re receiving.”
Aloft is also one of Louisville’s first boutique hotels. It’s comparatively small, and its technological features and open spaces give it a vibe of its own.
Guests have the option to check in using an app, bypassing the front desk and heading straight to their room. They can even unlock their door using their smartphone’s Bluetooth technology. Once inside, they can stream their own content – such as a PowerPoint presentation they’ll be showing the next day – to the wall-mounted TV.
Below in the lobby, tables and chairs come in all shapes, colors and sizes. With a snack bar on one end and a restaurant on the other, the space between has a continuity of character somewhere between fun and businesslike. Guests who’ve never met before chit chat over a game of pool, and along the wall, a ticker displays stocks and sports scores.
Aloft’s Corner Restaurant & Bar boasts more than 60 bourbons. It’s one of the ways the hotel is helping to bolster the unique culture that draws people to town.
“I think everybody can see what’s going on in Louisville,” says Tiffany. “It’s almost like a renaissance of the entire city right now. There’s a revitalization that’s going on. I don’t think any city, at least in the Midwest, has seen it on this scope.”
For the three executives, it’s an honor to play such a part and to break with a tradition that says hotel leaders have to be seasoned veterans. They might be young, but they’ve earned the owners’ trust.
“I never feel like I’m being given marching orders,” Tiffany says. “It’s always, ‘Brandt, what do you think?’” VT
A second hotel, Aloft Louisville East, is set to open December 20 on Westport Road. For more information about Aloft Louisville Downtown or to make a reservation, call 502.583.1888 or 866.716.8143, or visit aloftlouisvilledowntown.com.