David Bowd has worked in hospitality for 35 years and ran two of the world’s greatest hotelier companies. First joining Ian Schrager’s team in 2001, he stayed for 12 years, only to leave for an equally coveted position at an André Balazs property. And now as he builds his own hotel empire, Salt Hotels, Bowd is changing the landscape of luxury travel by making it more personal. With four properties in his current portfolio (The Asbury, Salt House Inn, Eben House, and The Asbury Ocean Club) in two geographical locations (Provincetown, MA, and Asbury Park, NJ), Salt Hotels is just getting started with plans to expand. “I went to Provincetown town for 1 weekend a while back and fell in love with the community, its history, and its authenticity. I bought Salt House, which was run down, and did a complete gut renovation of it. I opened it and it just took off. Everyone loved it. It was an overnight success. Kevin (my co-founder) and I thought ‘Wow, this is interesting. People like what we’re doing.’ So we created a 2nd property in Provincetown, Eben House,” says Bowd.
This is why Salt Hotels is personal: They’re about great hotels, in great places, with great partners, great design, and great service, all in a wonderful setting. They understand the importance of design in a hotel, and all properties are both community lead and staffed locally. Bowd makes sure that all of his hotels have a positive effect on the community in that way, employment, and hiring. “Salt started very organically,” says Bowd. “What I love about my properties is that it’s always an eclectic mix about everyone. That’s what makes each of these places special. There are fantastic music and art scenes, there’s young single NYers, Brooklynites, and then there’s older retired NJ folk coming. You get business and family travelers. It’s this melting pot of really interesting people, and our job is to make sure that continues. We want our communities to be themselves, to not take themselves too seriously, to be fun. The traveler is changing a little bit, the traveler is younger, more seasoned, but they long for the authenticity of these communities. They don’t want a manufactured environment. That’s Salt Hotels’ special sauce. It’s a great mix of people and whilst the crowd will always be evolving and changing, we still have those core values at heart.”
The Asbury Ocean Club even has a residence component for travelers to extend their stay in Asbury Park long-term, if one so desires seaside resort living. And with further plans to expand, for Salt Hotels, the possibilities are endless. “We’re working on a property in upstate NY right now. It’s location is still a secret at the moment, but it’s somewhere that’s really got a lot of soul and local interest. We’ve also got one international project in the pipeline, and another New England property to come in 2022,” says Bowd. It’s hard to top the already wonderfully mixed crowd that his hotels seem to attract, but you can certainly count on the fact that if Bowd is involved, expectations will be surpassed and far succeeded. Salt Hotels guests are anywhere between 21-75 years old, and what’s most beautiful about the community that Bowd has built with his beloved Salt Hotels is the sincere sense of community that is treasured by all, no matter the age.
words by Kara Studzinski