Albert Mertz has overseen lavish hotels in the world’s most glamorous cities and locations.
Now he is thrilled to be in Greenville at the helm of a family legacy project – the Hartness Hotel, slated to open this winter.
“My career has taken me all over the world,” says Mertz, who spent 30 years in the hospitality industry. “I am thrilled to establish a large hotel in Greenville. It has been a goal to live in this area for many years.
Mertz’s work with Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. has taken him to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Indonesia, Korea, Japan and Spain. Mandarin Oriental Group moved it to London, China, Singapore and US cities like Miami and Washington, D.C.
He managed the launch of 24 jungle villas and 800-room properties in Japan, Korea and the Caribbean — “in the middle of big cities and in the middle of nowhere,” Mertz says.
“I opened a property on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. It was a two-hour drive from the store,” he says. “If there is a will, there is a way.” The hotel was named Best Caribbean Hotel by Travel + Leisure in its first year.
The day Mertz arrived in Greenville six months ago, it was cold. “Do you know how great it is after working in the Caribbean and hot places for a good part of my career? Having seasons. It’s wonderful.”
Mertz said he and his wife, Ginger, turned down four more opportunities to come to the Hartness Hotel.
“I refused incredible projects. But none of them had the meaning of this property because this property has a family name on it. He ticked all the boxes professionally and personally,” Mertz says.
The ground was opened in December 2020 for the Hartness Hotel, which is being developed by the Hartness family on the site of the family home near Pelham Road and the motorway. 14. The 73-room hotel will be part of a 449-acre community of homes, businesses, recreation facilities and open spaces.
“It’s an honor to open a property that will be a legacy for the Hartness family,” Mertz said.
The hotel will have an adjacent glass-enclosed restaurant, called Patterson; a spa; event space; and a bar inside the hotel named The Captain, in honor of a family patriarch. The plan is for all to open simultaneously.
Mertz is thrilled that Patterson, The Captain and Village Kitchen, which opened in 2021 at Hartness’ Village Center, are part of the local food and drink landscape.
“To participate, to have an impact, to make Greenville an even better place to live…it’s very rewarding,” he says.
Village Kitchen is more casual. Patterson will be a nice dinner with a view of the tree line and a pond. The captain will be the “jewel in the crown”.
Each part of the hotel will revolve around a courtyard. “There is a lot of natural light and a unique landscape in the market. It’s going to be very beautiful,” he said.
“The Hartness family planned this in a 180 acre nature reserve which will give you that feeling of retreat, will give you the feeling of being far away.”
In fact, the hotel will be 11 miles from the Peace Center for Performing Arts in downtown Greenville and 8 miles from Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.
“We are accessible and close to everything. We’re not in the middle of nowhere,” Mertz says. “Guests will discover a gem in the city that will make you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere else.”
Sean Hartness is the CEO of the development and the hotel will be managed by Hay Creek Hotels, which specializes in unique properties. Tanner Marino is the executive chef of Village Kitchen, along with Patterson, The Captain and catering. Michael Bonasia is Director of Sales and Marketing.
A hundred employees will join them.
“I interview every person we consider for a role in the hotel,” says Mertz, who started working in hotels after high school and later graduated from the University of Houston, where he studied the industry. hotelier.
“I’ve held almost every position in a hotel. And I’m proud to say it. Each position is as important as the other. Some positions require a set of skills, but basically I can teach you how to serve in a fancy restaurant… I can teach you how to make a bed… But I can’t teach you how to be warm and genuine. And that’s what I’m looking for. »
It also has a list of at least 1,000 items that need to be purchased.
“The opening of the hotel is very important. I’ve been fortunate enough to open more than a dozen hotels, so that’s a skill I’ve honed,” Mertz says.
“My role is to create experiences. That’s what I’m here to do. It’s not just about equipping a hotel.
There is no manual, no catalog. And Mertz is happy that Hay Creek and Hartness want to establish an independent luxury hotel that still looks like Greenville.
“The idea is not to be the best. That’s definitely part of the goal, but being the best isn’t really my goal,” he says. “Being a great hotel is one thing. Being the only hotel to do certain things a certain way is what makes the difference.
True luxury is personalizing a customer’s experience.
“No two people have the same taste. We will look for all those little details that make a customer feel good. To put it in a nutshell, it’s very simple: it’s benevolent”, Mertz said.
“We show genuine care, we are warm. These are the elements of luxury. We are here to serve. This is our role. As a hotelier, that’s what I do, and I want to make sure that from the minute you arrive until the minute you leave, and after you leave, you’re always thinking how great you felt good while you were here.”