As I sat down in FIGS restaurant, located in the lobby of Hotel Jackson, to interview General Manager, Sadek Darwiche, I was immediately greeted with a big warm welcome. Sadek was my first boss in Jackson a few years back, so it was great to see a familiar face and be in a familiar space. Even though I wasn’t dining at the restaurant or a guest at the hotel, the server immediately was taking care of me with water and freshly squeezed green juice. When I asked Sadek how the Hotel was doing, he answered “This is a great example of the service we provide—our employees want to curate unique experiences for our guests so that they leave their meal or their room with a smile on their face, knowing that we are taking care of them. I think this is why we received the awards and recognition globally—we pay attention to even the smallest details and our guests love that.”
Hotel Jackson was named to the 2019 Forbes 4 star list of hotels!
With the hospitality industry being so prominent in Jackson, I was curious to know how they knew they wanted to open Hotel Jackson and how they approached all the key aspects of the industry. Sadek immediately mentioned that the Lebanese culture is extremely hospitable—that a typical day at home back in Lebanon always has their doors open to family and friends and offers lots of food, entertainment, and love to all that walks through the door. With the idea of opening a hotel, they wanted to create that idea and feeling for all their guests visiting Jackson. Jim Darwiche, Sadek’s father and owner of Hotel Jackson, has been in Jackson for 40 years and has played many roles such as working for the town, starting the summer farmers markets, and even having multiple businesses around town. When deciding to move forward with the idea, the family wanted to share their experiences in a setting where it didn’t exist in downtown Jackson and it was important for it to be a boutique hotel that was independent. This gave them the flexibility to do whatever they wanted with whoever to give their guests the best experience possible.
At the hotel's restaurant, FIGS, they important olive oil from Lebanon to make their famous hummus.
How was the process with the design with bringing is aspects from Jackson and Lebanon?
“Jim’s first business was a Mexican restaurant and he wanted it to be the best place with the best food. He sold the business and had decided to open a retailer that was Swarovski Crystal—the finest. So with the hotel, it had to be the best and the finest. Jim has always done something on an elevated level with a lot of attention to detail. Secondly, everything had to be authentic. All the materials are authentic…metal is metal, wood is wood, stone is stone.” They didn’t want to follow the classic log cabin aesthetic, so they ended up with a modern design that still pays homage to the old west.
Amenities -What can guests look forward to?
“Irreplaceable location, the people of hotel Jackson make the experience…a lot of attention to detail, authentic and unique experiences. We often say we don’t say no. If the guests share their interests with us, we will make it happen as long as it is legal.” Besides the high-end service and location, the property contains original art, a gym, hot tub, beautiful library with photos by local photographers, writers and artists, and more.
On working with his family
Sadek is the GM of the hotel, and with his dad as the owner, he is not involved in day-to-day operations all the time, so they're able to have the space needed for them to work positively and proactively. The family brings their own eyes and own perspective on things and matters which he says is really important—that communication and setting structure with his family has truly created a successful environment. “It takes time, but it is worth it in the long run”—it shows!
What challenges are you facing that you want to improve to better the success of the hotel for years to come?
One of the challenges they are working on is how to constantly train and bring the sense of culture which is the culture of service. “It takes time and you have to be patient to find the right people…they exist but it’s just finding them” said Sadek. When they were a new business, they had growing pains and ideas that didn’t mix, but flash forward to the present where they are more settled, more confident, and have found individuals who have similar passions and ideologies.
With a smile on his face, Sadek ends the interview on this note: “The future is bright, and the future is wide open, and we have a lot of opportunity to continue to keep doing what we are doing. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Hotel Jackson."
This blog was edited for length and clarity
Click here to learn more about the Hotel and to book your stay next time you're in Jackson!
This story is a part of #humansofjhchamber: The campaign places a focus on the faces of our local businesses and nonprofits. Learn about their inspirations, why they got started in their industry, and more! Find the Chamber on Instagram, @jhchamber. For information about the program, please contact Director of Membership, Elisabeth Rohrbach, firstname.lastname@example.org or 307.201.2301.