By David Berman | July 18, 2023
If there’s only one thing you take away about the Malibu Beach Inn after a conversation with Gregory Day, he wants it to be that every room at the luxury property faces the Pacific Ocean. Each and every one of the 47 rooms on the property has a private balcony that looks out onto the water.
But the beautiful vistas are not the only feature that sets apart the Malibu Beach Inn, which has climbed the ranks of the most decorated hotels in the country since being purchased by real estate firm Mani Brothers in 2015.
The recent accolades for the Malibu Inn speak for themselves. In the eight years under Mani Brothers’ and Day’s leadership, the property has been designated as one of the Leading Hotels of the World (2017), become a preferred member of the Virtuoso Travel Network, been named twice to the Gold List (2018 and 2023) and received the World Travel Award for No. 1 Boutique Hotel in North America.
“We’re a small property, but we’re a pretty mighty property in how we deliver,” Day said. “I’ve worked for so many hotels where the hotel ends up sort of telling the customer what luxury is. We do the complete opposite here. The customer will tell us what luxury means to them, and we will adapt our service to them.”
Day, Managing Director of Malibu Beach Inn and President of Hospitality at Mani Brothers, has been in the industry for 34 years. He began his career in hospitality as an assistant manager at a coffee shop at a DoubleTree hotel in Monterey, California. He ventured into the luxury hospitality space in 1990 as a Food and Beverage Manager for the Pebble Beach Company and later held hotel management positions at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and Shutters on the Beach Hotel.
In 2015, he was contacted by Mani Brothers, which was looking to start a luxury hospitality company and wanted Day to run it for them. The firm’s first property was the Malibu Beach Inn, purchased that same year from business magnate David Geffen for $80 million — what was then the highest price per key ever paid in the United States, according to Day.
Day also oversees two other properties for Mani Brothers. First, what is now an Embassy Suites in Napa, California, is soon set for a complete renovation and rebranding starting in August. Second, Mani Brothers owns the Hana-Maui Resort on the island of Maui in Hawaii.
Upon purchase of the property, Day and the Mani Brothers’ team redesigned the Inn to capitalize on its beachfront location.
“We really decided to make it very residential, just like a giant beach house,” Day said. “The idea was if you had a beach house that just happened to have 47 rooms in it, what would that look like?”
Day said the property doesn’t include any resort fees, as the entire stay is baked into the price point that guests pay upfront.
“We decided from the beginning, we’re not going to be an inexpensive hotel. We’re gonna have great service to back up the rate, but everything is going to be included in the rate,” he said. “We’re not going to do silly things like have resort fees or charge for the Internet.”
Day said the small service details at the Inn is what sets the property apart. Each terrace connected to the rooms is paved with special tile that doesn’t heat up in the California sun, making it safe and comfortable for guests to walk on with their bare feet. Despite a relatively small size of 400 square feet per guest room, each room has two TVs, one for laying in bed and one for the seating area. The property carries over 4500 pieces of bed linens in three different colors — blue, yellow and green — so that the guest specifically notices that their sheets have been changed every day.
“It’s a subtle way of sort of helping people realize that we’re giving a quality product iteration,” Day said.
The hotel has experienced challenges in recent years stemming from — what else — the COVID-19 pandemic. Day said the property actually recovered quite well from the initial onset of the pandemic, as the hotel was mostly operating as usual by June of 2020. A year later, however, is when the hotel felt greater effects from the pandemic as the rest of the local industry recovered and started poaching staff from the property.
“We are still to this day dealing with shortages in labor,” Day said. “In the hospitality sector, whether it’s the Malibu Beach Inn or any of my hotels or any hotels of anybody I know, everybody’s still desperately looking for staff, A, and B, more importantly, qualified staff.”
Day said the success of the property is a credit to the dedicated staff of around 100 who maintain high service standards each and every day.
“No matter what anybody does, none of it matters unless we’ve got amazing team members that we work with,” he said. “Any manager that tells you that because of them, or the things they’ve done, that that’s the reason the hotel is successful, they’re out to lunch. The employees and the hourly staff and team members that we have at this property are absolutely world class.”