Lords South Beach: Meet Gorman the Mastermind

Brian Gorman is sitting pretty. The New York entrepreneur and founder of the Lords South Beach hotel, successfully weathered his first summer as a hotelier. Not an easy feat. Lords South Beach, the first of the gay boutique hotel chain, had its grand opening last December and Gorman, the genius behind this sophisticated, grown up playground couldn’t be happier. Full occupancy happened immediately and was still going great guns right through the dead of summer, a notoriously bad time for South Beach tourism.

As you walk through the whimsical Lords South Beach, you think: ‘This is what a genius 14 year-old would do if he had unlimited funds and design carte blanche.’ The dapper Gorman let his imagination, taste and reputation as the perfect host, guide his decisions, from the welcoming front porch on up through every uniquely designed room. The huge polar bear in the lobby is only the beginning.

Gorman’s quirky ultra-chic-modern meets campy-retro-style is backed up by years of solid business experience. He grew up around the hotel industry and as a child, played “check in” with guests who visited his family’s home.

He honed his skills at BBG-BBGM, one of the five leading architecture and interior design firms in the world; then at a Manhattan real estate sales and marketing agency, where, in a short time, he landed real estate and hospitality contracts worth more than $10 billion. At both of these firms, Gorman was involved in business development, project management, design, branding, marketing and sales. He learned how to create a product for a very specific demographic.

Before the business career, youthful stints as a manager at luxury retailers like Gucci and Bergdorf Goodman and even bartending at an after-hours gay bar, taught Gorman about the value of flawless customer service.

Lords South Beach is the culmination of Gorman’s experience and vision. The location couldn’t be more desirable — a mere block from the beach on Ocean Drive and walking distance to plentiful dining and nightlife locations. Reasonable rates hover between $150 and $215 a night and rave reviews on multiple travel sites, from gay and straight guests are four and five stars.

DAISY: Of course, the first thing that hit me was the enormous polar bear in the lobby! What were you thinking? Polar bear? Miami? Not its natural habitat!
GORMAN: (Laughs) I had it made so that when people walk in the door it disarms them and gives them a giggle!

DAISY: Why a gay hotel? Hasn’t it been done before?
GORMAN: Other gay properties seemed really seedy, sex driven. Whereas ours is about having fun with friends … what you do on your own time is your business! I wanted to capture that moment when you’re 24,  just before you go out with your best friends, before you have to act cool! Here it’s so fun, lively and silly, you don’t have to act cool, you’re just supposed to be yourself. I felt it was something that was missing and I wanted to bring that back to our community — whoever felt a little different in their life could feel comfortable here.

DAISY: A huge success and it’s only nine months. What’s your magic formula?
GORMAN: We’re not trying to capitalize on a community but we’re being a part of it. We established alliances with the largest gay and lesbian charities — including Care Resource, one of the largest HIV/AIDS providers in Florida and Aqua Girl, which provides scholarships for lesbians — with specific rooms assigned to each charity, so they get 10% percent of the revenues from those rooms, ongoing, every day!

DAISY: How did you arrive at the quirky-fabulous interior design?
GORMAN: We gave directions to make it bright, playful and go with a vibe of bohemian-beach, free-spirited but a very, very chic existence. There’s a fine line between kitschy camp and camp chic. Had to be a great balance and make a strong statement.

DAISY: How did you incorporate your love of art into the hotel?
GORMAN: I’ve been connected with the Guggenheim as part of the Young Collectors Council and worked with a group out of New York with Kipton Cronkite and his foundation. This gives his young emerging artists exposure as well, so the art in the hotel is by Joseph Conrad and Mark Johnson.

DAISY: What were your must-haves in the rooms?
GORMAN: I have a bit of an obsession! There’s an Elizabeth Taylor and a bottle of vodka in every room – like Cleopatra hovering over your bed watching over you. The hotel was built in 1935 so there are many configurations that make each room really unique!

DAISY: Tell me about the origin of the somewhat unusual restaurant name, Cha-Cha Rooster?

GORMAN: (laughs) There’s a Cha Cha Cabana too! It’s just from me being weird. I think of these things and I love them. It’s about characters and confident people, like some of the women in Miami who are dressed to the nines even to go to the beach. “Rooster” was a term in the 1920s to describe a wild woman. She wasn’t the one just dancing in the fountain, she was taking her dress off too!

DAISY: What are you immediate plans now that you’re a hotel mogul?
GORMAN: I’ll be living here year round until I open up another property somewhere else. Three in the next five years… from there, we’ll blow it up internationally.

DAISY: Who creates all the hilarious, wacky flyers that market your hotel? They’re all very campity camp!
GORMAN:  I create them! That’s why I wake up in the morning!

1120 Collins Avenue, South Beach  www.lordssouthbeach.com

Daisy Olivera


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