Name an experience while traveling that has stuck with you forever.
Michael Barry: I stayed at an interesting Riad in the medina of Marrakech, down a little thousand-year-old alley. There were donkeys pulling carts, street vendors, and from this unkempt little alley, you come into this amazing courtyard full of flowers, with birds chirping and a water fountain babbling away. This authenticity is something that sticks in my mind and I wanted to recreate that feeling with Timber Cove. If I was to use one word to describe Timber Cove, it would be “unique”. One can’t recreate that experience anywhere else and that’s what travel and hospitality should be about.
What is something you wish you had known or done sooner?
MB: Well, I think everyone wishes that they bought Apple in the 1980s or Amazon in the 1990s!
Jens von Gierke: I wish I had known how hard it can be to work with officials to get things done in hospitality. I’ve had many projects in many different destinations, and everything can be going smoothly—the investors believe in you, the concept fits, et cetera—and then an official with a different idea puts you back to square one.
Who is your idol?
JVG: For me, it’s Chip Conley. He’s one of those people in the hospitality industry who just gets it right all the time. And he’s always on top of what’s next. I’ve learned a lot from him.
MB: People who can think outside of the box. Like Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and figures who just approached things from an angle that nobody had thought of before. With Timber Cove, we try to think outside the box by embracing individuality and quirkiness. Everyone has a different idea of their perfect stay, and we strive to make it a reality for them.
Why did you go into hospitality?
JVG: I always traveled a lot when I was a teenager, exploring cultures and countries in Europe. During one of the trips, in Lichtenstein, I got to know the owners of the hotel I was staying at, and they inspired me to work in hospitality, which brought me first into the kitchen.
MB: I’ve been a developer for many years in the New York metro region. When Timber Cove first came up, I had little desire to redevelop a standalone hotel on the other side of the country, but Jens said, “Just come out here for a weekend and see it”. I went out and fell in love with the property.
Jens, if you could give Michael one piece of advice, what would it be?
JVG: Michael… move to California!