It’s over. It’s behind us. Rip that rearview mirror off and throw it out the window (don’t litter though).

Our industry was decimated. Our people distraught. Our hotels shuttered. So many lives lost, literally and figuratively. It’s HEARTBREAKING.

No looking back. Okay, maybe just once. 

We hospitality people are resilient. We have worked overnight, double shifts, and holidays. We have seen guests at their best and guests at their worst (better, perhaps, than no guests at all). 

We continue to return. Ready to serve. Smiles across our masked faces. Ready, eager, hopeful for business as usual. Hopeful for phones ringing, kitchen tickets flying, strangers together in our lobbies. Laughter. 

We are so damn strong. You haven’t seen the last of us.

All signs point to recovery, but I’m not sharing a trends report today. I’ll save that for my Clubhouse crew. 

This is a seminal year for me. I can already predict some of what happens. It’ll be the second anniversary of my 49th birthday. Don’t fool yourself, I’ll always be 14 at heart. I'll celebrate 25 years of wedded bliss (Eileen knows how lucky she is). I’ll send my first born, Noah, off to college across the country (let’s hope that doesn’t mean the desk in our living room).

And as if that weren’t enough, and to be sure I don’t get bored—I’ve collected my crushes, my people, my team—the humans responsible for every success I’ve had—and started two new ventures. 

One was too few, three was way too many. You know.

We started two companies smack dab in the middle of COVID. It was my way of sticking it to ‘Rona, but more than that, I did it because I BELIEVE. 

I believe in my team. I believe in our industry.

I believe in my beloved, adopted country, America, too. I never bet against her. I stand beside her. Always. This country is made up of humans. In some of our darkest days, those humans rose to the occasion. Voices rang out for justice, equality, science, and sustainability. 

In 2021, I’ll Practice what I preach. It’s all about people. It’s always been about people. Life begins with people. In the middle, there’s people. When we feel most alive, it’s because of the people around us. 

I believe there are blue skies ahead. My ask of you is to hold your head high, always towards the light. Be proud of all you’ve done—the successes and the failures. If you haven’t failed, then you haven’t tried. If you cannot find kind humans along the way, then BE ONE. We need kindness to reach the light. 

Let’s begin again.

Bashar Wali, Founder & CEO, This Assembly