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Three miles wide and fifteen miles long, and once the world center of whaling, Nantucket is one of America’s most celebrated upscale holiday destinations. It’s a beautiful exclusive island, located 30 miles off from Cape Cod that has long attracted a wealthy clientele seeking a refined and sophisticated form of luxury hospitality.

A recent arrival on the island’s hospitality scene is Hotel Pippa, which opened for business in June 2018. It’s General Manager is LeighAnne McDonald, a class of 2007 Glion alumna who was drawn to Nantucket in 2011 and has been captivated by its natural beauty ever since.

“Managing a new property on Nantucket is very exciting and comes with many challenges,” she says. “Any new property takes time to build a reputation, so a strong marketing plan is very important in the first few years. We are so lucky to have an amazing Marketing team; and we also received a huge boost when we were named among the ‘Best of Boston 2019: Cape & Islands’ by Boston magazine.”

International hotel skills, boutique hotel application

Although she has lately focused her talents on the independent, boutique hotel sector, LeighAnne spent her first years after studying at Glion collecting useful experience with international luxury brands such as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Relais & Chateaux.

“Having worked for both corporate and independent boutique hotels, I’ve found pros and cons to both. In the boutique setting there is definitely more room for experimentation and personalization, plus it is easier to oversee all aspects of the property, which can be very rewarding. Last but not least, a smaller environment makes it easier to connect with guests – it’s always enjoyable to greet clientele that you see year after year.”

Beauty comes with a (staffing) challenge

Nantucket’s compact size, and the limits on development that protect its natural beauty, are huge pluses for the island’s tourist appeal. However, in common with other hoteliers this gives LeighAnne a headache when it comes to staffing.

“Hiring for what is primarily seasonal work can be difficult,” she explains. “Housing on Nantucket continues to be a challenge for workers, because of the very high cost of living here. We’ve done our best to provide housing for our employees, recognizing that they are our most important asset.

“During the peak season (July & August) hotels like ours are also extremely busy, so we have to make sure we keep our people motivated. It’s important to make our staff feel appreciated and recognized for their work, but also to provide constructive feedback throughout the season, so they keep the momentum going.”

Finally, what would be LeighAnne’s tip for a discerning traveler who wanted to sample Nantucket’s charms for themselves?

“Come in September – it’s the best month for those ‘in the know’, who can still enjoy beautiful weather but get to avoid the peak-season crowds. And bring your appetite: for an island that’s so small, Nantucket packs an amazing culinary scene. The restaurants here create a new menu that dazzles every summer, and you could plan a whole trip around trying them all!”

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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