The Beverly Wilshire Hotel's Leading Man
by emili vesilind
|A winding staircase leads from the Mezzanine to the Beverly Wing lobby below|
|Framed drawings by Chesley McLaren line the cream-colored walls of Trodd’s office|
|Trodd’s daily routine includes a morning espresso|
Fond childhood memories have been known to set the course for entire careers. Ben Trodd, the general manager of the iconic Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel since last fall, was certainly enchanted by the grandeur and elegance of fine hotels from an early age. Growing up in London, he regularly went to tea with his grandmother at the legendary Claridge’s hotel at a time when the staff still wore elaborate, perfectly starched uniforms. “The pageantry that goes with that makes it very exciting,” says Trodd over coffee at the bustling Blvd restaurant at the equally storied property he now runs. “It was like theater, and it was a little showbizzy. I loved [hotels] from that moment on.”
Having recently moved from Seattle, where he helped open a new Four Seasons in 2008 and acted as its GM until October of last year, Trodd is now charged with overseeing Four Seasons’ most indisputably high-profile property.
Located at the foot of Rodeo Drive, the hotel was famously featured in Pretty Woman, and has long been a magnet for international royalty, politicians, and celebrities. Warren Beatty, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and Cary Grant were all long-term residents at one time or another. And when President Obama rolled into town last fall, straight-faced Secret Service agents roamed its storied halls. Not that Trodd—a warm but unfailingly discreet exec—will dish on any of his famous clients (he wouldn’t even confirm Obama’s stay), which is exactly why notables feel comfortable under his trusted watch.
Trodd admits “a huge sense of responsibility” comes with his job, but he says it also comes with a sense of honor. “The bar is set very high,” he says. “Guests expect excellence and perfection.”
The dapper Brit, who studied marketing and economics at the University of London, began his career with the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane as a catering manager, eventually moving to the sales side of operations, and ultimately management. And although he’s currently happily ensconced in Manhattan Beach with his wife and three children, Trodd and his family have traveled the world with Four Seasons, opening and managing its various properties in such locales as Lisbon, London, Silicon Valley, and Dublin.
Trodd’s workday begins with reading reports and reacting to any issues with guests from the previous evening. “Then we start the proactive process,” he says. “We look to that day and probably the week ahead,” which means meeting with a team to discuss arrivals and “working out what we can do to make each day special. We have many guests who come here because they like a particular room in a particular corner in a particular color scheme, so we spend a lot of time getting ready for that.”
Trodd’s office, a roomy space with a view of Rodeo Drive, tucked away on the hotel’s Mezzanine level, is as polished and engaging as its denizen. Classic Charles Eames chairs border a minimalist glass-topped desk supporting a 21.5-inch iMac. Fresh-cut flowers, guest comment letters, and photos of his family and his former Four Seasons team in Seattle have a permanent place on his desktop, while a 42-inch flat-screen plasma TV, historic photographs of the Beverly Wilshire, and framed drawings by artist Chesley McLaren (designed specifically for a Beverly Wilshire advertising campaign) festoon the cream-hued walls.
But Trodd doesn’t spend much of his day in the elegant space. He does a daily walk-through of the 395-room hotel, meeting with the different operations departments and “seeing where the pressures are.” Lunch is usually a meeting with a staff member, city official, or “a good client I’d like to spend some time with.” Then he’s off to “greet as many guests as I can. That’s a great way to find out about the hotel that doesn’t involve walking around—it’s about talking to people.”
Later in the day, Trodd typically oversees a meeting “that involves a new innovation or project we’re looking at.” His days end with a “brief wrap-up meeting with my hotel manager so I learn about the operations—and then we start planning for the evening events.”
Fortunately, the social elements of his job are amongst his favorites. “You have to enjoy it—the meeting people, the being out there,” says Trodd. “I love the energy of it all.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ULRICA WIHLBORG (SIDEBAR)
AG Jeans design director Mark Wiesmayr and stylist Jeanann Williams on denim's cultural footprint.