By Kevin Assam
David Bowd is the co-founder and CEO of Salt Hotels, currently comprising boutique properties including Provincetown’s Salt House Inn and Eben House. He has no problem steering the next generation of hospitality managers and hoteliers having had his own mother sit in on his fifteen year old self’s interview for a position within a hotel. David discusses his work with Salt School, the characters of his properties, and how exactly one should behave when cavorting with an extramarital love interest on the Cape.
What was the deal with Kay Thompson’s fictional character, Eloise? How would you handle a precocious seasonal kid in your inn with a fairly useless nanny?
Luckily, we don’t have kids in our two inns in Provincetown for that reason. We have seen it many times. Our other hotels do have children and when they become too intrusive to our other guests we generally have a good chat with the parents or nanny and they usually help us out.
Speaking of youth, would you disapprove of a teenager bringing their mother with them to an interview for a front desk agent position?
Much to my horror, when I was a 15 year old being interviewed for my first hotel role they asked my mum to join the interview. They wanted her to also understand that it involved long hours and hard work so she would be supportive. I would never mind. Everything we do is transparent and I would happily encourage both mum and teenager asking as many questions as they like.
Who’s the stud muffin you wound up with and what sort of four star travails were involved?
It was quite plain sailing. We both worked for Ian Schrager. Him in design and me running operations. We met in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was still in London at the time so it was a long distance relationship for eight months before I relocated to New York. He’s also the co-founder of Salt Hotels so we still work and run the company together.
Tell me about your venture and the properties you would both go on to acquire and create.
Salt Hotels was very organic. We decided to buy a hotel together. I would run it long term. Kevin would design it. Then it was massively successful and we thought let’s do a second. Eben House. Again, it just did really well. Our guests loved it. It was something new for the town and then we continued to grow organically. We only partner with great people who care about the guests and the experience and who want to create interesting hotels. We just opened our fifth hotel and next year will be London. After that another four hotels will open over three years bringing us to 10 hotels. We both have specific responsibilities within the company so we don’t have to live and work together 24 hours a day.
Are you trained now to spot a pseudonym from the get go? Be it for a mistress/sir or someone high profile?
Oh yes. That’s the easiest part of the job for me now. I can tell how people act whether they are with their actual spouse or not. Some people go to extreme lengths to cover it up not realizing it happens every day and we really don’t mind.
Are there certain steps you would advise one to take if they’ve found love with someone who is not their partner for a few weeks in Provincetown?
Keep off social media and stay away from the town photographers.
Is education one of the first major constructs a young individual encounters that highlights how much socioeconomic background can matter? Why did you start Salt School?
Salt School was started as your early life should not define your life. Many people don’t do well at school especially LGBTQ youth as they have so many struggles. Salt School was started to allow someone at any age to learn about hospitality and what it takes to be in the business. We have trained over 400 people and employed over 75% of them across our five hotels. At Salt School, everyone mixes with everyone and age, sexuality, and socioeconomic backgrounds don’t matter. As they don’t in any of our hotels.
Do you and Kevin get a kick out of staying in one of the SALT properties? An in-work adventure.
Every time. It’s so fun to see other people enjoying the experience and us also being guests. Of course, we then come up with hundreds of new thoughts but generally we love it.
Are there overrated hotels and inns you really wish would just go away at this point?
[Laughs] Yes but none I would say publicly.
If you chose an individual, fictional or real, who came close to capturing what each property stood for, who would it be?
Captain Eben Snow for Eben House who was the Captain who built it. You feel him around. The Chequit would be an old Victorian lady who likes everything in place. Salt House is an artist and beatnik who populated the dune shacks at the turn of the last century. The Asbury is Antoni from Queer Eye, great to look at and fun. Ocean Club is an old English gentleman who likes the finer things in life like a good cigar or a great claret.
How would you describe humanity’s reaction to the correct way of folding a fitted sheet?
Like most things in life it’s not that hard. Take a moment to think about it and it’s easy.