BEHIND THE DIVINE
Dare to Dream Big?
Standing By My Vision for the
First Divine Living Hotel
By now you all know the deal. This column is about the more humbling moments in my entrepreneurial journey. And right now to be honest, I’m feeling a little bummed out.
I just packed up my bags from my beautiful summer in a Provençal paradise and am getting ready to leave for Paris. Even though I’m so delighted to be headed back to the City of Lights, where I’ll get to see all the amazing ladies from this year’s Divine Living Academy, it’s difficult saying adieu to everything I’ve fallen so in love with over the past seven weeks: Going to the market every morning. Enjoying leisurely lunches in idyllic village squares. Cooking epic dinners with the best local produce. Hosting fabulous friends from around the world. Breathing in the warm Mediterranean air. Soaking up the sun, the sea and all the spectacular sights.
It feels like the end of a glorious summer romance, and all I can think about is how quickly can I get back next year? And ideally, not only will Provence and I be back together again, we’ll take our relationship to the next level. As you may remember from week one of this issue, my dream is to graduate from tourist to hôtelière. I feel called to open up the first Divine Living luxury hotel here, complete with a dreamy restaurant.
In this moment however, I have to admit that my excitement is tempered with a dose of fear. Because from where I sit, I don’t know how I will make it happen. Of course I already started looking into it, checking out properties and asking questions. After speaking to some investor friends, I was disappointed to hear a resounding “Absolutely not! Hotels never make money.” And as for the real estate search, the places that fit my vision are looking a little astronomical.
Meanwhile, thinking about all the little details needed to run a hotel and restaurant is a bit daunting. Sure I can design an epic menu, however…I don’t know how long to keep lettuce in the fridge, how many eggs to order or where to source the best fresh seafood…for a restaurant. One of the benefits of running an online business and selling directly to consumers is I haven’t had to ask for much of anything as far as overhead or investment—let alone permission. So tapping into a new industry that requires physical things like a farmhouse and a pool and a walk-in freezer is totally uncharted territory.
All of this has created for a heated internal debate. There’s the defeated voice that says, it’s way too big, it’s not going to make money, I don’t know how to make it happen. And then there’s the part of me that’s fully lit up and obsessed and says, where there’s a will, there’s a way—we’ll figure it out! Then, there’s the compromiser who chimes in with, Gina, why do you have to make life so hard? Can’t you just go rent a villa for a few months next summer and enjoy yourself?
Tempting…unfortunately for the part of me that wants to keep things easy, the answer is no. It’s not that I’m trying to complicate things, it’s that I feel called to a higher level of creative expression. At this point in my life I know better than to be limited by what others say I can and can’t do. I have to stand up and tell myself the same thing I tell my coaching clients: Whatever your dream is, there’s someone out there who’s already done it. Which means it’s humanly possible. And if it’s humanly possible for them, why can’t it be for you?
I keep thinking about the women entrepreneurs we’ve featured in this issue—Jocelyn Sibuet, Mimi Thorrison, and the ladies of the Paris Popup. They’ve all built growing hospitality businesses on their own terms, in innovative ways. I’m sure that at one point or another they all heard “you can’t.” And as for profitability, look at the Sibuet line of hotels—with over ten properties! It’s certainly not the only boutique brand out there that’s making money. Plus, I stay in hotels all the time…am I really supposed to believe they’re all in the red?
As daunting as it is, I’m not going to be invisible or embarrassed about this dream—and I’m not going to tell myself ONE DAY either. I’m 43 years old, and I get that life is not forever. I talked about starting this magazine for five years…and believe me I heard plenty of “you can’ts.” I could have waited another ten before it felt like there was enough time and enough money and enough know-how. Deciding to just pull the trigger and do it anyway taught me so much about what I’m really capable of.
While it may feel disappointing that I can’t devote all of my energy to the hotel project right now, at this stage in my career I know how to handle multiple burners. Sometimes it takes just an hour a week to grow something from a simmer to a full-boil, slowly over time. My main focus right now is coaching this year’s Academy class on fulfilling their dreams between now and the end of the year, plus opening enrollment for next year’s class, plus working with Alumni.
However, I’ll still be asking questions, building my Pinterest board and speaking to agents about potential properties. Soon enough, I know I’ll claim the time and space to dive into a full business plan.
One of my favorite lines from The Course in Miracles is “Thoughts grow stronger as they are shared.” This dream of mine has been a seedling for over a year and a full-blown obsession for over a month, and now that I’ve shared it with all of you, multiple times, it seems ridiculous to think that the Divine Living Hotel doesn’t exist.
I know that some dreams are just fantasies, and if you play the tape all the way through, you realize they aren’t actually aligned with your deepest desires…and you let them fade away. At this point however, I’m confident that this hôtelière calling isn’t going anywhere. So while I may not have the date set yet, consider yourselves on the VIP list for the grand opening. Stay tuned.
|All My Love,