When did you set up the business?
Nikki Beach was born in Miami Beach, Florida (USA) in 1998 to celebrate the life of my daughter Nicole. It started as a beautiful garden by the sea, which we called Café Nikki, where friends and family could get together and share great times. We didn't have plans for a global brand. However, the magic between our family concept and our customers created a demand. It was then that we decided to strategically expand worldwide, while always keeping the core message behind Nikki Beach, “a celebration of life”, of utmost importance by ensuring each location combines the key elements of Dining, Entertainment, Music, Fashion, Film and Art into one – which, in addition to family and friends, are the things in life that Nicole loved most. Phuket has always been on our priority list of great locations for Nikki Beach and with five successful years in Koh Samui, the opening of Nikki Beach Phuket is a great accomplishment for our growing brand. Our Phuket location was built in partnership with Singapore-based Castlewood Group.
What did you do before Nikki Beach?
A long time ago, I worked at McDonald’s as a cook for 85 cents an hour and eventually became one of the largest franchise owners with 16 McDonald’s in South Florida. I then moved into the entertainment and hospitality industry, quickly finding success as the owner of several clubs in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Daytona. In 1988, I opened Penrod's Beach Club on South Beach changing the area’s demographics from a retired community to a young, vibrant and trendy crowd. In 1998 (after losing my daughter Nicole to a tragic car accident in 1997) I decided to honour and celebrate her life by transforming Penrod’s Beach Club’s success into Nikki Beach. Now, 15 years later, with the opening of Phuket, I have 10 permanent Nikki Beach (Beach Club & Restaurant and Hotel Resort) locations all around the world.
Where are you from?
I was born in Columbus, Ohio, USA, but grew up in South Florida.
What’s different about Nikki Beach?
Someone once told me we changed the way people party around the world. I'm not sure if we did or not, but our commitment is to celebrate life. Every Nikki Beach brings the elements of great food along with fun entertainment, music to cater to different generations and cultures and fashion shows and art. We're not about heavy partying. It's about having fun with your family and friends. We keep a very good balance.
Why would someone choose Nikki Beach against your competition?
There's a strong sense of family within the entire organisation and I believe this message is clearly present at all our locations. We have customers who have visited every single one of our Nikki’s throughout the world because we strive to make them feel comfortable and at home. When they see our staff, they feel that they're home.
Tell us about your role in the business?
I'm very involved in every aspect of Nikki Beach. We're a family owned and operated business. My wife Lucia, my son Mike and my son-in-law Peter are active members of the Executive Board. Each one of them handles a specific area of the business.
What are the main challenges?
I really don't have any. I created an Executive Board five years ago made up of five people (family and non-family), and gave each one a specific area of the business to run. I've been coaching them on how to run the business and I'm very happy with the results. My role as the coach is a very rewarding one.
…and what are the biggest difficulties?
Keeping us all grounded and humble. Our daily mantra is that “it is all about Nikki.”
What's your main target market?
It's a broad spectrum, but particularly a discerning, jet-set crowd that travels regularly and has the financial freedom to choose the best. Our main target is never about age demographics or income scales. The typical patronage of our international Nikki Beach destinations are those coming to celebrate life, relax and enjoy themselves with friends and family.
What do you like most about what you do now?
Seeing the team expand their wings and become successful Nikki Beach managers, which translates into creating the magic of Nikki Beach everywhere we send them. To see our customers feel at home at all our locations and celebrate their life’s best moments with us. To hear their comments about our great food and our friendly and impeccable service; it’s a dream come true.
And what do you like least…?
I delegate what I don't enjoy doing any more as I've created a team that I trust to handle accordingly.
What do you expect to achieve within the next 3-5 years?
Continue growing the Beach Club division (we currently have 10 permanent beach club locations around the world) and put more emphasis on Nikki Beach Hotel & Resort division. In five years I expect to have 10 Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts open.
What about CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)?
We participate in many charity events around the world.
How does your typical day ‘at work’ go?
I start my day with a great cup of coffee, check my emails and make calls around the world to talk to our managers so I can keep current with our business. I spend a lot of my time on new locations. My office is my iPhone.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Well, I constantly keep everybody informed with my goals. I never ask anyone to do something I've never done myself and I bring my management into a bonus system where there’s ownership on premise at each location.
What is your over-riding ambition at this stage in your life?
To pass this business on to people I love.
For further information about Nikki Beach
62/11 Moo 6 Cherngtalay, Talang, Phuket +66 76 681161