Diego Lowenstein: Pushing a global growth plan for Virgin Hotels team
Diego Lowenstein heads a third-generation family business, started by his grandfather, who escaped Frankfurt in Nazi Germany and made a new life for himself and loved ones in Argentina during World War II. He started with nothing, his grandson said, but with perseverance won the fortune to place his offspring where they are today.
Mr. Lowenstein, the CEO of Lionstone – Löwenstein in German, broken down to Löwen for lion, stein for stone – refers to himself as extremely balanced: he loves his work, which he describes as very innovative real estate and development both in the US and abroad, as well as non-business activities that nurture and give life to his soul.
About 90% of Lionstone’s US business is hotels, Mr. Lowenstein said. There are so many variables with a hotel, Mr. Lowenstein said, because it’s an operating entity. Every day you’re operating something to make it work. For an office building, you build an office, find a tenant, rent it for 10 years and don’t worry anymore.
With a hotel, Mr. Lowenstein said, building it is just the beginning. Once the doors open, it’s very much tied to macroeconomic conditions, so it’s cyclical. When there’s a recession, people don’t travel and corporations don’t send their people to meetings, so the industry tends to go by the way of the economy.
When not flying back and forth to Argentina or mired in his “soup to nuts” development firm with all the disciplines from his Miami Beach office, Mr. Lowenstein eases into his alter ego as a musician. He plays electric guitar and composes music for his band, Pampa y La Via, which performs in small, local concerts at restaurants for the most part. Music is his escape, Mr. Lowenstein said.
He also loves to travel and said many friends call him Marco Polo, as he’s been fortunate to travel the world and see incredible places.
Miami Today reporter Susan Danseyar interviewed Mr. Lowenstein is his sunny, lion-adorned Miami Beach office.
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