Recently recognized as “One to Watch” by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Bloomberg 50 and awarded Independent Hotelier of the World by Hotels magazine, James McBride is a global hotelier who has led some of the world’s leading hotels during his twenty-five year professional career. Known for his limitless creativity, clever marketing techniques, and exceptional hotel experiences, James has raised the bar in the hospitality industry, paving the way for inventive ideas and competitive spirit. He recently shared his unique stories and unconventional journey at the Skift Global Forum 2018.
James transitioned to hotel entrepreneur in 2012 when he partnered with long-time friend and investor Christopher Burch on the acquisition of Nihiwatu, a small surf destination on the Indonesian island of Sumba recently voted the #1 Hotel in the World for Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards in both 2016 and 2017 and its Mamole Villa received top honors from The Telegraph among the world's best Treehouse Hotels. Nihi Sumba Island is now a philanthropic resort dedicated to preserving Sumba’s culture, heritage and traditions— while empowering its villages with the resources to prosper—all through the operational support of the Sumba Foundation. The result is a rare collaboration between a resort and its local community that today co-exist with compelling interdependence: the resort has become the biggest employer on the island and the Sumba Foundation gives back to local communities. A portion of Nihi Sumba Island's profits, and donations from hotel guests, help foster projects such as clean water, medical clinics, and lunches for schoolchildren.
The swift success of Nihi Sumba Island led to the development of Nihioka, a satellite spa resort also on Sumba, with a vision of local and international expansion that connects at the core of Nihi: cultural immersion, exotic adventure, and unlimited fun. James and Chris are enthusiastically planning expansion of the brand to further realize opportunities grounded in its doctrine, “The Edge of Wildness.” Soon, the expansion of Nihi Resorts will include the current model of a luxury resort that emphasizes ultimate services and endless experiences; and the addition of a larger, less expensive format that the millennial traveler can enjoy on a similar, more cost-efficient level.
James started his journey globally at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, where he remained for fourteen years. His work is the focus of a Harvard Business School case study that remains the number one best seller taught in many academic programs “that details a new hotel launch, focusing on the unique blend of leadership, quality processes, and values of self-respect and dignity, to create award-winning service.” James was then selected to run two of the most preeminent properties, in quick succession: In 2002, James became General Manager of The Grosvenor House of London's Park Lane; and in 2003 he was appointed by Rosewood Hotels as Managing Director of The Carlyle in New York. James' six years with Rosewood Hotels included the Regional Directorship of all Caribbean Resorts.
James then seized another international opportunity when he was approached by Asia’s YTL Hotel Group to assume the role of its global President. It was in Asia that his lifetime network, resources, and original concepts all culminated for James to pursue another revolutionary phase: Nihi Sumba Island.
As a global ambassador for the hotel and hospitality industry, James is also a founding partner of Zanadu, a Chinese luxury members-only online travel agency that launched the Global Travel Experience Awards in 2014.
See James McBride speak in the following sessions: