Beverly Hills Spotlight: Efrem Harkham

Efrem Harkham, Luxe Hotels

Our Beverly Hills Spotlight shines light on a very important business man in the heart of the City of Angels. Efrem Harkham, Founder and Chairman, of Luxe Hotels and LWH Hotels, owner of the celebrity frequented, Luxe Rodeo Dr, the charming boutique luxury hotel on the famous Rodeo Dr in beautiful Beverly Hills.

Tell us little bit about yourself?

I am the founder and chairman of Luxe Hotels and LWH Hotels. I was born in Israel and raised in Australia, but have called Los Angeles home since 1978. Before building my hotel business, I worked in the fashion industry as CEO of Jonathan Martin and Hype clothing.

I have been in the hospitality business for 30 years, building the Luxe Hotels brand and our globally branded company, LWH Hotels, which represents independent boutique-style hotels in more than 31 countries across the world.  Luxe Hotels has three properties located right here in Los Angeles: the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel (in Beverly Hills), the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel (in Bel Air), and the Luxe City Center Hotel (in downtown Los Angeles).

How did you get into the hotel business?

Thirty years ago this year, I was inspired by the opportunity to implement my vision for an entrepreneurial hotel brand and take a “diamond in the rough” property and turn it into a jewel. I purchased what is now the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel – initially, as a pet project. Despite its prime location and unique architecture, I could not find a hotel representation firm that could make the hotel profitable. Thus, I aggressively closed gaps in the hotel’s management, cutting the hotel’s losses by half within six months and completely eliminated losses within the same year. Based on this success, I had a newfound passion for the hospitality and hotel business. I then purchased the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel in Beverly Hills. Today I own the Luxe Hotels brand, which has three properties in the greater Los Angeles area, and LWH Hotels, a hotel representation company for unique, boutique hotels with properties around the world.

What inspired the launch of the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel? And LWH Hotels?

As an entrepreneur by nature, ideas are always brimming for me as to how to improve hotels and their services. When the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel property became available, I knew intuitively that it was the right property for me to acquire because its prime location on a legendary street had the potential of becoming a beacon property that would attract an international chic clientele.

I founded LWH Hotels as an outgrowth of my dissatisfaction with existing hotel representation companies that weren’t capable of giving my hotels the customized service I expected. LWH Hotels is now a collection of global, independently owned boutique hotels, each with its own distinctive individual personality.

What is your business philosophy?

I run each of my businesses similarly. I ensure that I maintain an intimate understanding of the nuanced needs of hotels within their specific regions and keep an unyielding focus on building brands to which consumers relate personally. My intent is that, in an era of “sameness” among hotel chains like the Marriots and Radissons of the world, I focus on establishing and building truly unique identities for my properties. In general, I strive to create a sense of place away from home.

What is the hardest part of what you do as Founder and Chairman of Luxe Hotels?

When you are passionately involved with everything you do, as I am with my brands, nothing seems overwhelmingly hard.  Genuine satisfaction trumps challenges.  Still, if I had to pick, it would be managing people and their expectations and the constant care for individual players’ needs.  Yet, personnel management requires extensive travel and keeps me connected with worldwide colleagues and friends, which is an exciting part of my position as Chairman.

What is the best part of what you do as Founder and Chairman?

The best part for me is seeing my vision brought to life at newly acquired properties. I am committed to Luxe Hotels brand and to bolstering each hotel’s visibility, volume and viability.  Also the people – I have the opportunity to inspire people and in turn, watch them achieve and excel. I work with such an incredible team of employees who work tirelessly to ensure that all of our properties shine.

Luxe Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills
Luxe Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills

Why can your guests have a different experience at your hotels than anywhere else? What makes your hotels different?

The most notable attribute that distinguishes my hotels from others is that they are unlike any other properties, even each other. For example, Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel located on a legendary street and is the hotel of choice among both locals and traveling guests seeking a glamorous backdrop for virtually any celebratory event, vacation or business trip. Set amongst couture fashion houses and restaurants featuring world-class cuisine from famed chefs, the hotel underwent a multi-million dollar redesign and showcases the signature style of interior designer Vicente Wolf. It conveys a luxurious minimalist ambiance, yet is filled with elegant appointments, including original artworks, oversized mirrors and fine furnishings. The decidedly boutique property boasts 88 guestrooms and suites designed to convey a stylish blend of the relaxed Southern California spirit and the elegance of Beverly Hills.

On the other hand, Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel is an urban retreat in the middle of Los Angeles, a seven-acre lush, pristine property, perfectly perched at the intersection of Brentwood and Bel Air.  Moreover it offers stylish and supremely personalized care and service in a modern California environment – really a unique respite in the heart of the second largest city in the US. Its convenience to some of the most prestigious sites in Los Angeles including The Getty Center, Santa Monica Beach, UCLA, Skirball Cultural Center, Riviera Country Club and Pacific Palisades, make it very attractive to both tourists and business travelers.

 Do you have a personal favorite LWH Hotels location in the world and why?

Considering that they are so individual, each with a distinctive personality, it would be hard to choose. Most LWH Hotels properties are found in or around historical or extraordinary locations and often reflect local cultural sensibilities or compelling design and architectural elements.  I am particularly excited about searching out exceptional properties such as the five that were added to the collection recently, which include the Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel in Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan; Elite World Business Hotel and Elite World Prestige Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey; Hotel Le Littré in Paris, France, and Deerhurst Resort in Ontario, Canada.

The Epitome of Luxury, Luxe Hotels
The Epitome of Luxury, Luxe Hotels

What is the heartbeat of the employees throughout the company? Perhaps an instilled mission or idea that everyone adheres to as a part of the Luxe family?

All of our employees are driven by a commitment to the highest of standards of service, which is a signature quality of all my properties.  It starts with guest interaction and continues through internal staff and vendor interactions.  It can be sensed in every aspect of the hotel offerings from room service, to restaurants, to upkeep and maintenance of the properties.  And because of it, there is a sense of place or “home” that is imparted to guests.  When we say, “Welcome home to the Luxe,” guests understand that we mean it and offer the service to bring it to life.

 Have you discovered your purpose in your work? If so, what is it?

I believe hotels are important establishments within their communities, providing services for not only visitors, but also to local residents.  Each of our hotels play an integral part of the communities they are in.  Whether it’s inviting local school children over to learn how to bake cookies with our chef, or providing disaster relief in times of need, I believe it’s critical that our hotels interact within the community and be a necessary resource.  That’s really what it is all about.

It’s no surprise Mr. Efrem Harkham has earned exceptional success as a business leader in the hotel and hospitality business. Creating a home away from home, where time after time, guests return to relive the experience of comfort and luxury; the signature of the Luxe Hotels family name.

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Jacqueline Maddison is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Beverly Hills Magazine. She believes in shining light on the best of the best in life. She welcomes you into the world of the rich and famous with the ultimate luxury lifestyle.
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