In the male dominated world of hotel management, Grace Leo quickly carved out a formidable reputation for her attention to detail and innate sense of style. Her first major independent project, The Guanahani Hotel on St Barthélémy was acclaimed as one of the world’s great luxury hideaways, whilst the Hotel Montalembert, opening in October 1990 was one of the seminal properties in the design hotel movement of the current decade. The same inimitable combination of design flair and management expertise have also been applied to the chic Chateau de Noirieux in the Loire valley and, in conjunction with the rock back U2, to the stylish and quintessentially Irish Clarence hotel in Dublin.
In January 1999, following the purchase of The Royal Riviera in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Hotel Montalembert in Paris, the Westmont / Alliance and Goldman Sachs’ hotel fund appointed Grace Leo as management consultant for these two properties, to strengthen their foothold in the luxury hotel sector. Subsequently they purchased the 115 room hotel Bel Ami in January 2000 which was sold on in 2004 for record price after being fully renovated and repositioned by G.L.A. Hotels.
Arguably one of Grace’s most exciting projects in recent years was the renovation of Hotel Lancaster in Paris. A Paris institution for over 50 years, the hotel was purchased from the Savoy Group in late 1995 and reopened under G.L.A. management in September 1996. The result speaks volumes for Graces Leo’s expertise, flair and perfectionism as well as the battalion of designers and crafts people she sought from around the world to undertake the work.
The recent additions to G.L.A. Hotels’ portfolio a 2 Parisian properties that are each 100 rooms, in need to be upgraded and repositioned as it has been done for the Bel-Ami. The first one is located behind the Champs-Elysées on rue Ponthieu, a stone’s throw from Christies, we have renamed it Hotel Beauchamps. The second is located in the up-and-coming area on rue La Fayette, about 5 min by car from the Grand Magasins down the road. This property has been renames as Hotel Jules and opened in January 2009.
The daughter of Honk Kong hoteliers, Grace Leo has been involved in the hotel world all her life. After completing her hotel education at Stanford and Cornell Universities in 1977, Grace Leo quickly established a reputation at Inter-Continental Hotels and Sheraton. In 1981, at the age of 26, she moved again to become Vice President of Hong Kong based operator Warwick International Hotels, where she was responsible for the group’s expansion in the North American and later European markets. During the five years that Grace Leo was at Warwick, the company’s operation expanded from 2 to 14 hotels.
Moving to Paris in 1982 to supervise Warwick International’s European expansion, by 1985 Grace had decided that the time was right to start her own company. Identifying the small luxury independent hotel sector as an area of huge potential growth, she set up G.L.A. Hotels to offer professional consulting services to this sector. Over the last seventeen years Grace Leo and her company have prospered working on many projects across the world.