Present VP of Brand Experience for EDITION hotels and founding editor of the insider travel site AHotelLife.com, Ben Pundole is redefining modern luxury as a practice rather than a package. Pundole’s dynamic career as a hotelier, editor and tastemaker began at London’s infamous Groucho club, where at age 19 he dedicated himself to learning through elegant observation, rising like Wes Anderson’s wide-eyed character Zero Moustafa in the film The Grand Budapest Hotel to become an authority in the hospitality world. After graduating to the Met bar where he continued to impress influencers in fashion, music and film, Pundole began an 11-year stretch working closely with Ian Schrager and Morgans Hotel Group as Vice President of Entertainment.
In 2010, he applied his boutique hotel prowess as a co-founder of King & Grove, and that same year opened Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk, which quickly became a singular destination, the indie counterbalance to the traditional idea of summering “out east”.
Now, Pundole is back in Schrager’s orbit with EDITION hotels, which just opened locations in Miami in late 2014 and New York in 2015. But in addition to curating memorable celebrations that launch hotels into the jet set’s creative consciousness, Pundole is focused on his passion project, AHotelLife.com, in which a select group of writers (mostly Pundole’s creative friends) share personal hotel tips and traveler reflections that are that buzz with style and abandon. The site understands that, for the audience interested in undone beauty and life-logging memories, a house boat in the Rockaways can be as much a destination as a palace on a lake in Switzerland; thoughtful touches and heightened storytelling are the new scale for luxury, not cost. And yet, before launching the site, Pundole had no experience as a journalist.
A self-described 40-year-old Millennial (See a gap? Fill it!), Pundole’s vision is experiential. He meditates. He Instagrams. He works to “face stagnation head on,” by taking inspiring adventure missions, like a solo jaunt to burning man (“bonkers and wonderful!”) and treks out to Bushwick to attend Cityfox raves, and allowing experience to shape his fluid taste.
This kind of magic-seeking translates into Pundole’s philosophy for hospitality: “Always be a gentleman and never play by the rules.”
“A great hotel is one that makes you see a more elevated version of yourself,” he says, “You should be able to unravel layers that create in you a sense of depth and intrigue.”
As he develops AHotelLife.com, Pundole’s mission is to shy from brand partnerships and focus on authenticity, and, to borrow the word he sprinkles through conversation like flowers picked from out in left field, “magic”.