Anthony McHale works where Mediterranean mission-style villas are tucked away among wooded gardens, a waterfall and a swan-filled pond. As the new manager of the Hotel Bel-Air, McHale enjoys providing guests a respite from the stresses of urban life.
“You walk in and it’s a whole different world,” he says. “The whole feeling is certainly less hurried than what one would expect in a metropolitan environment.”
The hotel’s relaxing pace attracted him there after serving as executive assistant manager at the Peninsula Beverly Hills for two years. And after a 24-year career in the hospitality field, which has brought him to hotels in London, Canada and even the Caribbean, McHale was ready for a change of pace.
“The Peninsula was very exciting,” he said, citing the fast pace of business there. “But from a country perspective, I enjoyed Bermuda the most. It was professionally challenging.”
For example, “electricity and water were quite hard to come by sometimes” a disadvantage when you’re working in a luxury hotel.
“Islands are beautiful places, but it’s quite hard to do business,” he said. “Not everything can be flown or shipped in.”
The Hotel Bel-Air, he said, has the best of both worlds, offering both luxury and a relaxed pace.
McHale studied hotel management in England, where he grew up, and specialized in food and beverage management. His career choice, he says, can be traced back to his parents, who “were gourmet connoisseurs of food and wine.”
But today, as hotel manager, McHale focuses on hotel operations.
In addition to the numerous awards the hotel has won, another reason he came to the Bel-Air was because “it has some history to it.”
Since the hotel opened in the early 1940s, its famous guests have included Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, who has a bungalow named after her. Howard Hughes is said to have finalized multimillion-dollar business deals at a corner table in the bar.
Today, rates start at $325 a night and go up to $2,500 for a suite.