Q and A with Tim Harmon Mosaic Hotel Group

Under the umbrella of Palisades Hospitality Group (PHG), Mosaic Hotel Group (MHG), a San Rafael, CA-based hotel management company specializing in boutique properties, currently has five opened properties, with more in the pipeline for 2018 and 2019.

Tim Harmon, the group’s leader, who also oversees PHG’s operations, founded the full-service hospitality company after serving as the director of business development for Auberge Resorts. Prior to his career in hospitality, he practiced law for eight years.

Hotel Business caught up with Harmon to find out what’s in MHG’s pipeline for 2018 and beyond; get his opinion on “boutique” properties; and learn why he left the law field.

How would you describe the typical MHG property? MHG’s properties are intimate boutique hotels that revolve around gastronomy, history and culture. They give guests a sense of place. There’s no set mold or uniform they follow; each are unique hotels with their own style and design. They’re enhanced by MHG to complement the destination they reside in and provide guests with immersive experiences. Culinary is a big component of MHG properties’ DNA. Actually, most people know about our restaurants first before discovering they are in a hotel.

What is MHG’s strategy when it comes to adding new properties to its portfolio? People often ask me, “What is MHG’s expansion plan?” Are we planning to expand to the East Coast, or are we adding more properties in Mexico? MHG’s portfolio is full of properties we consider gems and are particularly passionate about. For example, I’d been vacationing in Valle de Bravo for more than 10 years before recently adding La Casa Rodavento, Hotel Rodavento and Cinco Rodavento to MHG’s portfolio. My partner is a friend who introduced me to this beautiful, local destination, and La Casa is his old family mansion we converted into the first boutique hotel in Valle de Bravo.What’s in the pipeline for Mosaic for the remainder of 2018? MHG just appointed Edmund Sulzman as president of MHG, and he is overseeing the upcoming launches of three new hotels. In January, MHG opened its fifth hotel property and its first in Mexico with the launch of La Casa Rodavento. We also acquired Hotel Rodavento, and the property is undergoing spa renovations (to be completed by July 2018). MHG plans to launch three more properties over the year ahead, including Cinco Rodavento Valle de Bravo in Mexico (August 2018), and The Lodge at Point Reyes in California (June 2018).

What does the term “boutique” mean to you? Boutique means intimate properties that embrace character and individuality. They provide guests a sense of place with curated, crafted experiences. Design, gastronomy and location have everything to do with being boutique.

What makes Mosaic different from its competitors? First, our F&B operations. We started as a restaurant company and operate nearly 30 independent restaurants. The culinary experience remains a fundamental and critical part of any hotel stay. Our acclaimed dining venues are the heartbeat of each hotel. They’re not only adored by our guests but also cultivate a loyal local following.

Two, we are committed to partnering for developments and acquisitions as well as investing in the hotels we manage. We’re focused on acquiring and developing unique properties designed for the modern traveler across the United States and Mexico. More than just creating the right alignment with ownership, we are actively involved in creating imaginative hotel and dining experiences.

Finally, MHG is part of Palisades Hospitality Group, a truly full-service hospitality company that not only provides hotel and restaurant development and management services, but branding, design and financial services as well. This complete spectrum of businesses allows us to provide truly integrated hotel destination experiences.

Where do you see the boutique management landscape in the next few years? Unfortunately, the word “boutique” has lost its meaning as many large, branded hotels label themselves as “boutique.” Fortunately, the independent traveler is becoming more sophisticated, aware and open to unique hotel experiences, while the tools for finding these types of properties have never been better. Rather than focus on the label, we’re committed to providing singular and personal experiences at all of our hotels. I think this is a trend that will only continue to develop in the coming years.

What do you consider to be the company’s greatest strengths? We’ll never be satisfied with the status quo. I travel extensively, both in the U.S. and abroad, always looking for new trends and inspiration in design and cuisine emerging in different cultures. In the hotel business, the day you’re satisfied is the first day you start to go out of business. The industry is constantly changing, and you have to evolve with it. We are committed to empowering our entire team with the flexibility to evolve our operations. We like to be on the leading edge of what’s on the horizon.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as CEO? The hotel business is a people business, and learning how to manage and motivate people is a challenge I’m always working on, and there’s always a lot to learn. I started my career as an attorney and leaving the practice of law is one of the best decisions I ever made. The challenges and creativity of the hospitality business motivate and inspire me every day.

How did your experience as an attorney help you with your career in hospitality? Why did you leave the law field? My focus at Mosaic is on business development and creating new properties. Unquestionably, a legal background is useful for negotiating and putting together deals; however, while I enjoyed my years practicing law, I wanted to pursue a more creative and dynamic career. HB