Gadling Q & A with Daniel Edward Craig, author and hotel consultant

Daniel Edward Craig shares a name with the current James Bond, and like 007, he’s a world traveler and a man of many hats. He’s taken a career in hotel management and a keen ear for storytelling and parlayed it into a murder mystery book series, an engaging industry blog, and a hotel and social media consultancy. Here he tells Gadling about his history in the travel world, who’s providing the best social media content for travelers, and what’s next in hotel trends.

Tell me about your history in the hotel and travel business.

I’ve worked in hotels off and on for about twenty years. I started on the front desk at the Delta Chelsea Inn in Toronto and went on to work for a range of hotels, from big-box to boutique, in positions ranging from duty manager to vice president. Most recently, I was vice president and general manager of Opus Hotels in Vancouver and Montreal.

What title do you think best captures your profession these days

These days I work as an author and hotel consultant. I left Opus at the end of 2007, shortly after my first novel was published, to complete the second and third novels in the Five-Star Mystery series. Now I am working on a fourth book as well as various consulting projects for the hotel industry, ranging from social media strategy to executive coaching. I also continue to write my blog and articles about the hotel industry. It’s been a rough few years for hotels, and I think we could all use some levity, so in my writing I try to take a lighthearted look at issues.

Do you think you’ll ever go back to managing a hotel?

I hope so. Hotels are my first love; writing is secondary. As a hotel manager, I feel fully engaged and at my best, whereas as a writer all my neurotic tendencies come out. Writing is a solitary profession, and I’m better as part of a team. Once I finish my current book at the end of this year, I’ll decide what’s next, and that could very well involve a return to hotels full-time. I’ll always write, but after a year of 4:00 AM mornings and late nights, I promised myself never to write books and manage a hotel at the same time.

What are you most critical of as a hotel guest?

I’m extremely service oriented. I’ll cut a property a lot of slack if it isn’t my style or if facilities are limited, but bad service can ruin my trip. In particular, I dislike overly scripted, apathetic service. I love a hotel with originality and a lot of life in the lobby. And I look for soul, a combination of design, culture, clientele and spirit, that intangible feeling that I’m in the right place. That’s why I prefer independent boutique hotels – it’s easier for them to do these things well.

What’s your favorite hotel?

Don’t make me choose! It depends on my mood and the nature of travel. I was just in Chicago and was blown away by the new Elysian Hotel. If I’m relaxing or working, I like the Four Seasons. I can’t always afford to stay in them, but I will splurge on a drink in the lounge and will hang around until I’m asked to leave. My favorite is the Four Seasons Georges V in Paris. But I also love contemporary boutique hotels. I’m a city boy, and when I feel like socializing I want to stay in a hotel with a scene, like the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York, the Mondrian in Los Angeles, and the Clift in San Francisco. XV Beacon in Boston is also one of my faves.

Given the many social media experts today, how do you stand apart?

I’d never call myself a social media expert. Who can keep up? I’m a hotelier first, who happens to know a lot about social media and reputation management. Social media allows me to combine my two professions as a hotelier and an author, because essentially it’s about storytelling. Social media touches every department in a hotel, and as a former general manager I understand the interplay and interdependence involved, and to rise above individual departmental interests to develop a strategy that benefits the hotel as a whole.

What hotels/travel companies do you think are doing social media “well”?

I think there are a number of hotel companies that do certain aspects of social media well, but nobody is doing anything particularly innovative. HKHotels in New York are doing a great job of reputation management. Best Western runs a good Facebook page. InterContinental Hotel Group makes great concierge videos. The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee manages Twitter well. Red Carnation Hotels in London and Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver have good blogs. Joie de Vivre Hotels does great contests.

Hoteliers are great storytellers, and with all the comings and goings of guests we have a rich resource of content to draw from, and yet this isn’t translating to social media. A lot of hotel content is trite and uninspiring, and most of the voices sound the same: perky and vaguely annoying. Hotels can learn a lot from online reviewers, who spin the best stories, with strong points of view, hooks, humor, trivia and facts. I think there are huge opportunities for the hotel industry, and I’d love to help a hotel become the social media hotel in a given destination.

What made you start writing murder mysteries?

I always wanted to write, and naively thought that writing a mystery would be fun and easy. They say write what you know, and at the time I was working as a duty manager, so I set it in a hotel. Ten years later, Murder at the Universe was published. For me it was a one-off, but my publisher liked the idea of a hotel manager who writes mysteries set in hotels, so they contracted me to develop it into a series. Since then I’ve published Murder at Hotel Cinema and Murder at Graverly Manor.

After three novels, I started to get bored with my protagonist, the hapless hotelier Trevor Lambert, and all that whining. And there could only be so many murders in his hotels before people started suspecting him. The book I’m finishing up now is non-fiction, an irreverent insider’s look at hotels, written for travelers.

What do you see as the next big trends in hotels?

Mobile is huge. Increasingly, people are researching, booking and recommending travel via smart phones. Social media will grow as people continue to bypass travel journalists and hotels for travel information in favor of travelers, friends and social networks, all from the palm of the hand. When it comes down to it, however, above all hotel guests still want comfort, convenience and value. They just have much larger audiences to air their grievances to when they don’t get what they want.

What’s next for you?

After I finish the book, I’ll put book writing on hold for now and will continue to work on hotel projects, to blog, and to write articles. I’m starting to book quite a few speaking engagements in 2011. My platform as an author and hotelier is quite unique, and social media reputation management are hot topics. If I find a good job with a progressive hotel company, great, but until then I have no shortage of things to keep me occupied.

Read all about Daniel Edward Craig, his books, and his blog at his website,

Daily Pampering: Yoga retreat at luxe Chicago hotel

Need a breather? We totally understand. The daily rigors of life can be complicated and every now and then you just need a moment for some uninterrupted meditation. The Elysian hotel understands, too, and has put together a yoga program fit for a celebrity.

The Elysian is adding a dose of Hollywood glamour to its Greco-Roman-inspired urban oasis by partnering with celebrity yoga instructor Mandy Ingber to host a restorative three-day/two-night Yoga Retreat Weekend from Sept. 10 – 12, 2010. Ingber will instruct on wellness principles and yoga poses that toned the bodies of Jennifer Aniston, Brooke Shields and Helen Hunt.

The yoga weekend will include three yoga sessions, smoothie breaks and an afternoon spa treatment.

The price? Rates starting at $1,445 including the yoga sessions, accommodations for two nights, an in-room welcome amenity, keepsake Lululemon yoga mat, and lunch and Q&A session with Ingber Book. Can’t you just feel the stress melting away?

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

The Elysian — Inside Chicago’s newest luxury hotel

Chicago’s newest luxury hotel, The Elysian, opened up late last year, and Gadling finally got the chance to stop by for a look.

The Elysian Fields, for those not familiar with classical mythology, were the ancient resting places for those virtuous in life and battle, a place for the finest Greeks to one day lie. So with a name like “Elysian,” the standard for this hotel is set pretty high.

And high they are kept. One could easily describe the Elysian as unpretentious luxury with clean lines, styling and detail supplemented by a high level of attention, class and quality. Nothing is overbearing, with quiet, articulate staff, minimalist appointments and spacious, pristine rooms. Indeed, designer Lucien Lagrange’s commitment to the legacies of Chanel and Dior has been well held.

The lobby sums up the property pretty well. With high ceilings and broad, open space, one enters from the grandiose, stone courtyard to be greeted by two solitary, massive Greek sculptures. The atrium is bordered by a phalanx of waiting attendants and a sitting room on the left, while the reception desk pleasantly waits on the right. There are no kiosks, pantries, night clubs or dance parties to blur the experience.

%Gallery-89729%In a similar vein, The Elysian’s rooms boast a classy silver, white and brown color scheme, with simple, luxurious appointments and stylish design. Average rooms are just over 850 feet square, while our one bedroom palace had a massive, white marble bathroom, living room and bedroom, all facing the bustling promenade of Rush St. below.

Of particular note, the technological features of each room are phenomenal. Flat screen LCD televisions tastefully appoint the bedrooms and living rooms while some rooms even have in-mirror screens that you can watch while brushing your teeth. iPod ready docks are sprinkled about the rooms and even the freezer is tastefully tucked into a cabinet drawer.

Those looking to dine on-property will find two outstanding restaurants, Balsan and Ria serving European bistro and upscale fare respectively.

But the best of The Elysian’s luxury offerings is its spa, a 14,000 square foot mecca complete with a gentlemen’s lounge, lap pool, saunas, steam rooms and an outdoor terrace. One could easily spend a lazy evening in these facilities recovering from a long day of shopping on the Magnificent Mile.

Tickle your fancy? Check out for more info. Rooms start at just under $400 though there are currently some specials running.