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Have you ever fallen so deeply in love with a hotel that you thought to yourself: “I could live here”? That’s exactly what happened to Linda S. Law when she first visited Blantyre, a 1902 Gilded Age estate and resort set on 110 acres of lush lawns and woodlands in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
“When I was in graduate school at Harvard, one of my roommate’s parents took us to Blantyre for her birthday weekend,” says Law, a San Francisco native. “Having grown up middle class and never experiencing like that before, the only word to describe it was ‘incomprehensible.’ Since then, the purchase of Blantyre was on my bucket list for more than three decades.”
After getting her Harvard graduate degree, Law founded one of the only women-owned real estate development firms undertaking institutional-quality development in the United States. Not long after Law’s husband passed away in 2015, Blantyre became available. In 2016, Law realized her dream and acquired the Tudor-style Relais & Châteaux property.
What was it about the hotel that appealed to her on that first visit? “I remember feeling like Eloise at The Plaza,” says Law. “It was magical and transporting.”
Law says that her grit prepared her for being a hotelier: “I would say it was nothing other than pure discipline to work hard day and night.” But being a woman made a difference, too. “For the first time in my 40-plus year career, I found that being a woman helped,” says Law. “It truly was the story of a legacy being passed on from one woman to another.”
Her background in real estate also came into play. Law was the first female commercial real estate broker in a national brokerage company and during that time, she started working with inventors. “One of them asked me to help with his company’s facilities’ needs,” says Law. “Those inventors turned into entrepreneurs, and I eventually went on to work with almost every large tech company in Silicon Valley. From there, I embarked on my own development projects and investments.”
Way before social impact became so important, Law was passionate about undertaking projects with a purpose. “Essentially these were projects that had public/private benefits for the host communities in which they were located,” says Law, who is most proud of developing a Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto, which was previously the murder capital of the nation. She says that the huge occupancy tax benefitted the community and impacted employment opportunities. “I believe this is economic development at its best,” she says.
One of the things about Blantyre that appealed to Law was its rich history. One-time owner D.W. Griffith filmed parts of Birth of a Nation there. Everyone from William Churchill to Paul Newman made frequent visits. And John Williams wrote the score for Harry Potter while he was a guest. “Blantyre is authentic and cannot be reproduced, as it would not make any financial sense to do so,” says Law. “There is also tremendous value to the heritage-driven allure that is felt throughout the property. It remains an enduring symbol of refined elegance and timeless appeal.”
Law has put her own stamp on the property, but she says that she has respected the past while incorporating modern elements. “We have been fortunate enough to procure the only Dom Pérignon champagne salon in the world, with select vintages offered exclusively at Blantyre, and we introduced a new bar with black-and-white celebrity portraits that was named Massachusetts’ Best Designed Bar in Architectural Digest,” says Law. “We are also very proud of our field club and new local membership program that enables the community to engage with the property year-round.”
Law says that the secret is behind her success is that her vocation and her avocation are exactly the same. “I love what I do,” she says. “It is my passion, my hobby, my work and my future all wrapped up into one.”
For other women who want to become an entrepreneur like her, Law has some sage advice: “You have to have a stomach for risk-taking and be willing to lose everything you have worked so hard for. I also recommend keeping your head down, and most importantly, create an infrastructure around you of trusted advisors.”
Another key ingredient? “Gratitude is at the heart of everything I have ever done,” says Law. “I would have never succeeded without it.”
Here, Law shares five savvy tips for success:
- A good truffle hunter always needs a chef.
- Incorporating five-star luxury into everyday life yields so many unexpected impacts.
- Hotels are about experiences — not about lodging — and above all, flawless service trumps everything else.
- On transactions: It takes two deals to make one deal.
- Only the lead husky gets the view.
May 29, 2019 at 06:05AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs