Given that newly appointed president Daniel del Olmo has no shortage of hospitality experience having been part of both major brands and upstart companies, it should come as no surprise that he was tapped to lead Sage Hotel Management as the company looks to take ‘experiential hospitality’ to the next level.
Del Olmo joined Denver-based Sage Hospitality Group in January, which coincided with a restructuring of the company resulting in four independently run entities, including the operating arm Sage Hotel Management, as well as Sage Restaurant Concepts; Sage Investments; and Sage Studio.
In his new post, del Olmo will report to Walter Isenberg, president and CEO, Sage Hospitality Group. Del Olmo described Isenberg as someone “who clearly has the hospitality gene” noting the two parties had preliminary discussions as far back as last summer before he eventually met with the company’s board of directors and formally agreed to join in December.
Del Olmo acknowledged the initial meeting with Isenberg “piqued his interest” and the subsequent meetings with team members further reinforced why he was interested in coming on board.
“What I found is that the culture is incredibly strong, the reputation in the marketplace is second to none and there is a desire to serve with passion and creativity, which really compelled me to be part of it,” he stated.
Del Olmo has been given comprehensive oversight of Sage Hotels Management’s hotel and restaurant operations. In addition, he will be tasked with creating and executing strategies that strengthen and grow the division, as well as meeting all operational and financial goals.
Del Olmo detailed the company’s mission under the revamped structure.
“The objective here is to become the leading experiential hospitality company in the U.S. We believe that as a result of these four companies that basically collaborate with one another, but are separately run and separately managed, there’s a significant point of difference that other companies wouldn’t have. In the past Sage was known primarily as a management company because that’s where their roots were but today it is significantly more than that,” he noted.
Del Olmo later added, “Now that we have these four pure-play companies there is a big push and desire to accelerate our growth strategically and I think that’s something I can help with given some of my experience in the past.”
With extensive experience in global business strategy, brand management, hotel/restaurant operations and business development, del Olmo was most recently with Passionality Group, a company he co-founded with a focus on advising and investing in emerging brands. His background includes an 11-year career with Wyndham Hotel Group in multiple senior and executive level roles. Prior to joining Passionality, del Olmo served as CEO of sbe’s Disruptive Restaurant Group, where he led the portfolio of more than 140 restaurant brands. He also held leadership roles in ecommerce and marketing for Melia Hotels International and Amadeus North America.
With a father rooted in the hospitality business who had him traveling from the age of two years old, del Olmo explained that he “really was born into hotels” as he discussed hospitality and why he thinks he was the right choice.
“It was in my blood. I think the hospitality gene was going to be paramount to Walter and to Sage to consider me joining. I think humanity and compassion will continue to be a key differentiator in hospitality. Above and beyond all of the sort of industrial evolution elements that everybody is implementing through AI [artificial intelligence] and advanced technology, that’s all important but it’s about the hospitality gene,” he noted.
While del Olmo will be able to tap into his broad array of experience, he commented specifically on how his most recent role will help him going forward. “My experience with Passionality Group gave me some remarkable insights into the emerging trends both on the lifestyle food and beverage side and the experiential travel and lodging side,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the slogan of Sage Hotel Management is “serving with creativity and passion,” which del Olmo pointed out is remarkably similar to that of Passionality, which is “passionate about innovative hospitality.” He added, “I can’t help but think there was a lot of connectivity there.”
Founded in 1984, Sage has grown its national portfolio of both full-service and limited-service hotels to 53 properties and some 12,000 rooms totaling roughly a billion dollars in revenue. Del Olmo pointed out that one of the objectives is “to grow our management agreements in urban locations” primarily with independent, lifestyle and luxury properties.
In discussing his new role, del Olmo noted he sees himself as the “quarterback of our general managers and team members.”
He further elaborated on his focus going forward to help take the company to the next level. “From a structure standpoint--which includes processes, technology and tools--I think we will continue to build on the foundation and really start thinking about how do we continue to strengthen our best-in-class position. What do our general managers need to be incredibly successful?” he asked.
Having been in his new post a little less than a month, del Olmo was asked to share his early observations about the company.
“The culture that I perceived throughout my get-to-know process and conversations with people that were familiar with Sage and with Walter was confirmed and I would say to me that’s the number one priority of any organization that you wish to be a part of. I think over my career I didn’t have the luxury starting out to think about which culture do I associate with and which company shares the same values that I do. In the case of Sage, I think there is perfect alignment and it is palpable,” he said.