The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
111 North Post Oak Lane
Houston, Texas 77024
Decorated in the style of a classic Texas lodge, The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa is a luxury Houston hotel. Settled on 18 private wooded acres of land, The Houstonian is a quiet escape from the everyday. Enjoy personalized service and five-star accommodations in the heart of the Galleria.
For a corporate seminar or week-long conference, The Houstonian is known as one of the most prestigious Houston meeting venues. State-of-the-art conference facilities combined with impeccable service and amenities add distinction to any business or corporate event.
The hotel features 26 meeting venues, from the newly renovated Houstonian Grande Ballroom accommodating 650 banquet-style, to the executive-style Mahogany Boardroom, to poolside parties at the outdoor covered Gazebo. The more than 32,000 square feet of meeting space features expansive windows offering wooded views and natural light, executive conference chairs, and extensive audiovisual equipment and expertise.
Largest Meeting Room 6,634 ft²
Indoor Meeting Space 32,000 ft²
Indoor/Outdoor Meeting Space 36,000 ft²
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH JIM MILLS- From head of the kitchen to head of the hotel
Posted May 2, 2008
By MASON LERNER
For the Chronicle
Jim Mills took the tasty route to the top of the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa's corporate ladder.
He started as its executive chef in 1995. By 2002, he was the hotel's manager, and three years later, he became its general manager.
Mills talked with Chronicle correspondent Mason Lerner about the changes he has witnessed in the hotel industry over the years, the state of the industry and the challenge of living up to the Houstonian brand.
Q: How common is it for someone to go from the kitchen to the GM position in the hotel industry?
A: It is unusual today, but there was a time, reportedly, in the hotel business where the pathway to the head office led through the kitchen.
My own belief is if you can successfully manage a large commercial kitchen, one that in today's dollars does more than $12 million or $15 million in volume and deals with so many weird deadlines and customer sensibilities, you can probably manage just about anything.
In my case, though, I believe it was the relationships I created here at the Houstonian, the support that I had from the staff and probably the fact that as a chef, I wasn't solely focused on the craft " although I do love the craft.
Many chefs really concentrate on cooking to the exclusion of all else. I really quite enjoy running the business of being a chef for a large commercial kitchen.
Q: How has the industry changed since you got into it?
A: I know that it really becomes a clich these days, but I will tell you that 15 years ago, very few people inside a hotel had computers.
The other thing that has changed, in terms of facilities, is that people expect a higher level of luxury at all levels of our industry than they expected 30 years ago.
I think 30 years ago, if you were at the very top hotels, people had very, very high expectations. But there was a wide range of what you might expect for your lodging dollar.
I think that that range has narrowed significantly over the last 15 years.
Q: Have any of the changes taken you by surprise?
A: Green initiatives, green thought, green design and green technologies, even 10 years ago, weren't something that I would have thought much about.
There just wasn't the awareness. But today there is, and that is driven by need.
That affects a lot of things that we do. It affects the choices that guests make in the marketplace as well as choices that we make in terms of sourcing products or design.
Q: What specific initiatives have you spearheaded to go green?
A: Our program to encourage guests to reuse their guest room linens. This is a fairly common practice today, although we have been pursuing this for more than 10 years.
The second one is to recycle our trash. We have gone the full gamut of that. We separate and recycle a number of items. We work very carefully with our waste vendors to achieve results.
Some things going forward in the very near future for us: We will renovate our guest rooms over the course of this summer. Ten years ago, we probably would have focused most of our efforts on the aesthetics of the room. How does it look, how does it make you feel?
For this project, aesthetics is one of the important features of the room, but the functionality of the room is on equal footing with the aesthetics.
We started with talking about technology and energy management, heightened efficiency lighting and some green initiatives where we don't use anything manufactured with volatile organic compounds.
Q: How do you deal with the challenge of living up to a brand name that has become synonymous with luxury?
A: It's something that you learn to live with. It is a constant and insistent need to move forward and to improve. You have to keep in mind that all of your competitors are doing the same thing.
It's something that our team talks about quite often in formulating both our strategic and our tactical plans in terms of our services and the facility offerings that make up our brand.