Native New Yorker Brian Gorman, 36, opened the Lords South Beach Hotel one year ago. South Beach’s only hotel catering almost exclusively to the LGBT community garnered rave reviews and even an item in The New York Times Travel section. PGN interviewed the young entrepreneur about his concept.
PGN: How is your hotel different than other South Beach hotels?
BG: We are about creating a space where anyone who feels different feels comfortable. When you stay at our hotel, it’s like being at a friend’s beach house. You feel like you are at home and you can be who you want to be. Our guests have responded very well.
PGN: Why do you need a gay hotel or, as your tagline says, an appropriately oriented hotel?
BG: It doesn’t always have to be about need; why can’t it be about want? I am about creating a product that supports the individual guest. I wanted to create a hotel for a community where I feel my strongest roots. If you took away my gay community, what community would I be a part of?
PGN: Guests can choose to stay in a room that gives back to the local Miami LGBT community.
BG: We do a lot to bring the community together. One program I am very proud of is called “Rooms That Matter.” We have dedicated five rooms in the hotel and each local organization gets 10 percent of the revenue from those rooms. It is a great way to tie a for-profit with a not-for-profit. Among our charities are the Aqua Foundation and Miami Beach Pride. We have given $10,000 to the local community already.
PGN: Lords South Beach is turning one. What have you learned?
BG: It’s been a major learning curve. We have found who we are and what we are about. Our clientele is mixed. On average, we are 80-percent men and 20-percent women. On party weekends, we are almost 95-percent men. Our staff reflects our clientele. We have lesbians, gays, straights and transgender staff.
PGN: A recent search on your website found very affordable rates for South Beach in season. You have one penthouse for $350 a night.
BG: Before the recession, you couldn’t go to the beach unless you wanted to pay $500 a night. To keep the creative spirits connected, we try to keep our rates affordable and reasonable. We are trying to create a certain experience here by drawing a certain creative crowd. So most rooms are around $220 per night.
PGN: Any expansion plans?
BG: Getting into New York is a possibility. There really is a market for gay hotels and for niche products that helps you stand out.
Jeff Guaracino is VP for Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and vice chair for International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. For local travel, go to visitphilly.com/gay and friend visitgayphilly.com/facebook.