David Bodette was recently named general manager of Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel, the new arts-themed concept from Marcus Hotels & Resorts that opened in June at the former InterContinental Milwaukee hotel building downtown. Bodette previously managed notable hotels, including Ritz-Carlton properties; The Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California; The Langham hotel in Boston, Massachusetts; and The ART, another arts-themed hotel in Denver, Colorado. He is also a sculptor in his free time.
In a recent interview with BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Maredithe Meyer, Bodette discussed his plans for Saint Kate and what sets it apart from other hotels.
Where does Saint Kate fit into Milwaukee’s current renaissance?
“There’s a subtle yet elegant sophistication developing in the heart of Milwaukee and we’re planting a flag and saying, ‘Here it is.’ We’re in the heart of the arts and entertainment district… We’re on the river, centrally located. We’re going to be, I hope, the living room for the (2020 Democratic National Convention) because their offices are going to be in our complex, and I’m looking forward to seeing them daily even before the convention arrives. I think when people see a product like Saint Kate, they think, ‘This isn’t the Milwaukee we thought we knew,’ and that reinvention is at the heart of any solid redux.”
“I’d say over the last 10 years there’s been a renaissance of arts hotels. Pablo Picasso said one of the features of art is to dust off the dirt of the day, and it couldn’t be more accurate because when you have an art hotel, you’re coming into an environment where freedom of expression and being allowed to feel is everywhere — whether it’s for our business traveler who might want to just get away from it and allow themselves to be a little bit more human, to your everyday traveler who is seeking out that new experience … I think at the core of our appeal is, for that traveler, we’re allowing them to unplug. When you walk into the Saint Kate, you’re enveloped in an environment that just tells you you’ve arrived … We allow you to be free and be your inner child here at the Saint Kate, whether you’re an artist or not.”
Goals for the hotel
“Livening our service culture is so important to me. We have a culture of ‘yes’ and a promise to the community that we’ll do everything in our power to make their dreams realities and if I do that right, the finances and everything else just fall into place. Sometimes we open hotels and forget that a true experiential hotel needs to constantly reinvent itself, as much by the hour as by the day and the week and the month because that’s what’s happening with our customers: They’re reinventing themselves.”