Euan McGlashan doesn’t like using the words associate, employee, or staff to describe his team members, so the global cofounder and CEO of Valor Hospitality adopted another, more human-centric, term that embodies the brand’s ethos: Hotelitarian.
“It’s important to me that our hotelitarians are seen as real assets,” explains McGlashan, noting that they are passionate, engaged, and all share the same vision. “It’s real and meaningful because we are so interconnected. When an owner signs us in the U.S., they’re not only getting me and the team in the U.S. They’re also getting all of this intellect from around the world.”
A tight-knit international network is the foundation of Valor Hospitality, the Atlanta- and Romford, England-based full-service hotel management, acquisition, and development company McGlashan cofounded in 2012 with business partner Steve Cesinger. A year later, they purchased an operating platform in the UK—a region where they successfully transformed a collection of underperforming InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) properties into Europe’s number one-operated franchise portfolio.
The power of repositioning is what spawned Valor. Emerging from the Great Recession, McGlashan observed how numerous hotel owners were suffering because the banks were snatching properties away, and “that struck me as an opportunity to start a company focused on helping them through their distress to turn around their hotels and get them back to cashflow positive,” he says.
Today, Valor has some 80 projects across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, a mix of renovations, rebrands, and new builds that span independent hotels and bigger players like Marriott and Hilton. For the latter, Valor even conceived and developed high street retail-themed restaurants within select properties. Unifying the collection are the operators “who are all personal friends and incredible hotel industry executives,” says McGlashan. “We share the same DNA and the same philosophy on culture.”
This synergy underscores McGlashan’s decades in the business. When he was 16, the Edinburgh native started working as an apprentice at a 5-Star hotel peeling vegetables and washing pots; two years later, he was one of Scotland’s youngest executive chefs. Eventually, he headed to South Africa, and at age 27, built and opened the luxe Cape Grace on the Cape Town waterfront. Later, he ran the golf-centered Barnsley Resort (then Barnsley Gardens) in Adairsville, Georgia, oversaw the rollout of Dakota hotels in Europe, and led the development of several Starwood-branded properties at Wischermann Partners.
Transitioning into a post-pandemic reality, McGlashan’s plans are as robust as they are ambitious. Recently, Valor brought on 19 hotels in the UK and has its eye on the Maldives and burgeoning regions like Uzbekistan, where the company has announced the Hyatt Regency Bukhara slated for 2022. Close to McGlashan’s heart, South Africa will also see the arrival of voco the Bank, Johannesburg, Rosebank this summer, the first African outpost of the upscale brand from IHG.
Says McGlashan: “We’ve used COVID to focus on Valor, our culture and values system, and where we think the opportunities may be, rather than sitting in a dark corner and feeling sorry for ourselves.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s June/July 2021 issue.