Beauty maven Bobbi Brown is getting into the hotel business

Bobbi Brown is best known for the beauty brand bearing her name. The minimalist, flattering eyeshadows and lipsticks ...

Posted: Mar 15, 2018 11:40 PM

Bobbi Brown is best known for the beauty brand bearing her name. The minimalist, flattering eyeshadows and lipsticks won many busy working women as fans, but Brown sold the company to Estee Lauder in 2016 and has been looking for a new project ever since.

The answer came in a form she didn't expect -- a hotel in her pretty suburban New Jersey hometown.

Unlike many in the beauty and fashion worlds, Brown was content not to be a regular on the New York City party scene, preferring a quieter life with her husband, developer Steven Plofker, and three sons in Montclair, about 45 minutes outside of Manhattan. Montclair is a picturesque, sleepy college town that refutes the cliche of New Jersey as dirty and industrial.

Does this mean that A-listers might abandon Manhattan for the 'burbs? Brown thinks it's worth taking the risk, and she spoke to CNN Travel about her new life as a hotelier.

Meet George

Brown didn't plan to get into hotels -- and she claims to have zero interest in building another brand. But after her youngest son went off to college and her husband began exploring a property in central Montclair, it seemed only natural for Brown and Plofker to merge their talents.

Enter The George, a 32-room boutique hotel named after, and inspired by, George Washington. (The nation's first president spent lots of time in New Jersey.) It officially opens to the public on April 1, 2018.

"Let me tell you, it was not easy having a very creative developer alongside someone who considers herself an expert in color," Brown laughs. "[My husband and I have] been married 30 years in September. We raised three boys together. We have a happy marriage, but we're very strong-minded people and have learned when something is non-negotiable."

Among those non-negotiables? Dyson hair dryers and bathrobes from Ikea -- both things that Brown herself swears by and uses at home. She spent years traveling the world for her work and considers herself an expert on what hotels are doing right -- and what they're doing wrong.

A few of her favorite things

While the expensive Dyson hair dryers will have to be signed out from the front desk to prevent thievery, Brown had a very specific idea of which things guests would need in grabbing distance, namely coffee -- so there are Nespresso coffee makers in every room to prevent pre-caffeinated guests from having to interact with other humans.

Brown, who loves the Soho House hotels around the world and opts for boutique stays over big-name brands with loyalty programs, also wanted to keep things personal. Since she has strong reactions to fragrances, she chose a delicate peppermint lavender scent for all the in-room toiletries, and has a policy against using perfumes or room sprays in common areas.

"We're very hands-on people," Brown says about why the hotel project suited her and Plofker so well.

"I get into the details. We're going to be serving breakfast and brunch both to hotel guests and the community, we'll have an afternoon tea and smoothies. It matters what yogurt we serve. I will be curating everything," Brown says. "It's a small hotel, so it's about customer experience and accommodating."

And customer-friendly service doesn't just extend to guests of the human persuasion. Brown, a dog lover, has made The George extremely animal-friendly. Not only are there special doggie treats and beds, but travelers can pick out their pup's accessories (such as a food bowl) ahead of time when they make their reservation so that everything in the room will be ready to go upon arrival.

Another challenge for Brown and Plofker was negotiating Montclair's quirky local laws. The town has a very small number of liquor licenses, which can make it tough for a new bar or restaurant to open.

While The George does not have one of those licenses, Brown has come up with creative ways to bring booze onto the property, such as having a favorite local wine store host on-site tastings. (The licenses are portable, which works out nicely.) Her team can also arrange for deliveries to individual guest rooms.

The hotel's small size also makes it easy to accommodate specific dietary needs, from gluten-free to diabetic-friendly.

The one thing The George will never have, though? A spa.

The George, 2317, 37 North Mountain Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey 07042; +1 973-783-7878

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 22464

Reported Deaths: 942
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7540565
Ramsey2610103
Stearns198412
Nobles14883
Anoka126259
Dakota118244
Olmsted57510
Washington56230
Kandiyohi4751
Rice4112
Clay40625
Scott3792
Todd2960
Wright2691
Sherburne2192
Mower2161
Carver1852
Benton1692
Steele1480
Martin1265
Blue Earth1221
St. Louis11513
Freeborn970
Pine850
Winona7815
Nicollet747
Carlton730
Cottonwood650
Otter Tail620
Unassigned6110
Goodhue603
Watonwan590
Polk592
Crow Wing571
Itasca537
Chisago501
Dodge460
Chippewa441
Meeker440
Le Sueur431
Morrison400
Douglas390
Jackson390
Becker370
Murray360
Lyon360
Isanti330
McLeod290
Waseca240
Rock210
Swift170
Pennington170
Mille Lacs171
Fillmore171
Wabasha170
Brown142
Faribault130
Beltrami130
Sibley130
Cass122
Norman110
Wilkin113
Kanabec111
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Pope80
Wadena80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Renville50
Mahnomen51
Red Lake40
Traverse30
Big Stone30
Clearwater30
Redwood30
Grant30
Lac qui Parle30
Houston20
Lake10
Hubbard10
Roseau10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18342

Reported Deaths: 496
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3876115
Woodbury265831
Black Hawk171343
Linn93876
Marshall87815
Dallas87317
Buena Vista6820
Johnson6058
Muscatine54741
Wapello5384
Crawford4882
Tama40026
Scott34610
Louisa33610
Dubuque33016
Jasper25716
Pottawattamie2277
Sioux2100
Washington1858
Wright1240
Allamakee1194
Plymouth1191
Warren1140
Story961
Poweshiek888
Mahaska888
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines581
Boone560
Taylor480
Cedar461
Guthrie443
Clarke400
Benton391
Jones360
Iowa360
Monroe354
Shelby350
Clayton313
Buchanan310
Osceola310
Marion300
Webster291
Hamilton280
Madison261
Fayette260
Monona240
Lee230
Cherokee230
Winneshiek230
Cerro Gordo221
Davis200
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Lyon190
Grundy190
Floyd181
Sac170
Mills160
Hardin150
Butler150
Delaware150
Humboldt140
Ida140
Keokuk140
Hancock140
Appanoose133
Jackson130
Dickinson130
Clay130
Greene130
Howard120
Audubon121
Winnebago110
Cass110
Page100
Van Buren90
Franklin90
Carroll90
Pocahontas90
Chickasaw80
Emmet80
Unassigned80
Kossuth80
Adair70
Adams70
Lucas70
Union60
Montgomery60
Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Decatur10
Wayne10
Rochester
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Mason City
Few Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 71°
Albert Lea
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 73°
Austin
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 68°
Lingering showers Thursday AM will turn to sunshine by the afternoon
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events