CEO | Hospitality Alliance
A 20‐year veteran of the Hospitality and Real Estate industries, Lillis is the CEO of Hospitality Alliance. Hospitality Alliance is overseeing the master-planning for the 200,000 SF repositioning of the Jersey City Waterfront for Mack-Cali Realty, is representing The Carlye Group on the development of a Food Hall in Fort Worth and a 50,000 SF event space development in midtown west, and is managing the five food & beverage operations for the re-launch of The Mayfair Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Kevin is also the Head of Acquisitions and Development for the expansion of The Surf Lodge brand.
Previously Kevin was the Executive Vice President (and only US-based Executive) for the majority owner (Sahara) of the iconic Plaza Hotel and Dream Downtown in Manhattan. Prior to his time at The Plaza, Lillis spent five years as the Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development and Food & Beverage for what was then the largest private owner of hotels in NYC (Hampshire Hotels, now Dream Hotel Group).
Prior to his time with Hampshire, Lillis worked in real estate investment banking for nearly ten years with Rockwood and CB Richard Ellis and was responsible for closing nearly 100 real estate and financing transactions totaling over $6.5 Billion in value.
Lillis has also worked in event production as the CEO of New England Sports Marketing Group. He produced the first mixed martial arts event in Madison Square Garden history (November 2014), setting the record for the largest non-boxing combat sports event in New York history. Lillis has produced sporting events for a television audience exceeding 120 million households.
Something ILC attendees would never guess about you:
I was thrown into the industry entirely by accident multiple times until it finally stuck. My first experience was at 19 as a bouncer at a nightclub when one of the crew didn’t show up. I am a life long martial artist and a sparring partner of one of the other guys. I wound up as the world’s smallest (and least intimidating) doorman, and specialized in talking upset people out of fights. I started working in Real Estate law in college and then in real estate capital markets and transactions for nine years. I produced networking events for my whole career and ended up in F&B in 2008 where I became the Food & Bev “fix-it” guy. I ended up in my current role by being repeatedly thrown into the F&B world. It was always an accident, but has turned out to be the space I’m the most passionate about.
Favorite place to stay when traveling:
I love anything that is true to the area, the culture and the local history. Rather than “brand standards” – I’ve always wanted to immerse myself in the history of the building , the neighborhood and the locals. If I’m in a city with deep, rich History (like Paris or Rome) – I want to stay in a property that focuses on that (rather than a new build). If I’m rouching it and enjoying the outdoors – I want an option that doesn’t remove me from those elements.
MUST have travel item:
Running sneakers. My first morning in any new city, I like to go for a long run (10+ miles) and to get at least semi-lost. If I’ve been to that City before, I head in a new direction each time or if I’ve already explored the City, I run the neighborhoods at different hours. Running Paris at 5 AM on Monday is much different than 11 PM on a Saturday.
Biggest extravagance or vice:
For myself, I really don’t have any, but I do love sharing fine food with my extended family of close friends. So many people would never treat themselves to an expensive or unique meal, but a fine meal can stimulate senses in ways they have never experienced before. It’s like finding a musical note in your brain that you never knew could even be played.
Who in the industry inspires you:
Noah Tepperberg, Stephen Starr, Danny Meyer. Essentially anyone who has the need to create and feels compelled to risk themselves again and again – exposing their vulnerable creation to the critique of the masses.
Who would play you in a movie:
Jim Caviezel. Not only have I been told on multiple occassions that he looks like me (or me like him), but also from the types of characters he plays.
It wasn’t legal to work before 15, so my brother Stephen and I ran a lawn-cutting and snow shoveling business since I was 8. Once Stephen was able to legally work as a lifeguard, I didn’t want to be left our so I forged the paperwork so I could work there at 14. My first office job was at Robert Carroll Feldstein & Peirce in Downtown Providence at 18 working on real estate and corporate law.
Life at the Marmont by Raymond Sarlot. We’re relaunching the five Food & Beverage venues at The Mayfair Hotel in Downtown LA later this year. The Mayfair is another historic LA Hotel and was the site of the first Oscar’s after-party (1929), so I’m reading this to help me learn more about the history of LA hospitality (and about a really cool hotel in the Chateau Marmont).