When I travel, I want to be completely unplugged and surrounded by nature. I love holistic health and wellness experiences. I found the Mashpi lodge in Ecuador, that is absolutely perfect. It seems so far from the world, and it is a day’s drive from cell service. That’s all I need.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vaughn Davis.

Tapping into over a decade of experience earned at leading luxury lifestyle hotels in New York and Los Angeles, Vaughn Davis is a proven leader in launching experiential luxury hospitality brands in new markets. As General Manager at Dream Hollywood, Vaughn is responsible for the day-to-day management and operations of Dream Hotels’ 178-room west coast flagship and its six bustling dining and nightlife offerings located in and adjacent to the property. Drawing inspiration from previous tenures in fashion and entertainment, along with a Political Science degree from Hofstra University, Vaughn knows how to propel travel and hospitality forward in changing environments. He was recently appointed as the VP of Hospitality Innovation of HSMAI Los Angeles. Through his roles on the Diversity and Inclusion Board at Los Angeles Tourism and as Treasurer for The Hollywood Partnership, Vaughn also works to enhance the experience within the broader community of Los Angeles for all individuals, whether they are here to live, work or visit. His ongoing commitment to community service and leadership drive his unique vantage point and overall philosophy toward building and guiding successful teams and ventures.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From a very young age I’ve had a passion for hospitality and service. Even at age five I would serve tea and biscuits to our house guests, and I just loved making people feel happy and comfortable. After I graduated with a Political Science degree from Hofstra University, I decided it was time to go back to those roots, and started looking for a job at hotels in the Meatpacking District in New York. I had an interview with one hotel, and decided to pop into the Gansevoort Meatpacking after to drop off my resume. The person at the front desk asked me to stay and immediately brought up her Director of Human Resources. They ended up placing me as a bellman manager in training at the Gansevoort Park Avenue, and the rest is history. I did not know then where this career would take me, but I came with passion and dedication to really make a difference, and I still do that to this day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

As you can imagine, we collect a lot of stories in the hospitality industry, most of which we can never share. I have had the opportunity to meet so many people I admire, whether it be in the film industry, fashion, music, culinary, tech, finance, you name it. I had the opportunity to host my favorite actor of all time when they stayed with me at a hotel I worked at while their home was being renovated. It was my privilege to get to spend two weeks with that individual and their family. We had long chats about success and life, and it really made a difference in my life.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake was not initially realizing that hospitality could be a career with so many paths and opportunities. I had always had a passion for serving people, but had initially intended for this to be more of a side hustle. I was fortunate to have many mentors along the way to help me see how it could be so much more and then make it a reality.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Honestly, time boxing! Schedule blocks of time for everything throughout your day, including meetings, projects, lunch; even personal time like breaks, calls home, and exercise. That way you can focus 100% of your energy on each item during those time blocks and better maximize your time. It is so important to have a healthy work life balance, take care of yourself and your relationships, and definitely take your vacations.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Michael Lindenbaum and Karin Kopano are the two individuals who first hired me and believed in me. But I can’t stop with just them, because really so many people have mentored me and played a part in my success so far. I truly believe that no one makes it on their own. To name a few: Andrew Goldberg taught me the art of creating memorable experiences; Rob Dellibovi, Darren Bernstein, and Suzi DeAngelis all mentored me on effective and authentic sales and marketing approaches. I also had the privilege to open hotels with some incredible people from whom I observed all angles of the hotel business, from guest experience to finances, and hiring the right team. Those include Jorge Trevino, Craig Waterman, Seth McDaniels, Brian Fenwick, Julie Wooten, Jamie Sabatier, Mike Shutts, Ted Ely, Thomas Luersen, Andre Fournier. And of course, I have to mention my mom, who always told me to work hard and believe in myself.

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

I am attempting to transition the hospitality industry to a fourth and fifth industrial revolution mindset. Some of the key pillars in that effort are sustainability, efficiencies through tech, personalizing the guest experience, reducing the digital divide, promoting physical and mental health and engaging our consumer base more holistically. I have worked with my team at Dream Hotel Group to introduce several initiatives to this end, including mobile technologies for keys, check, check out, bag storage; health and wellness devices in guest rooms; personalized content for our guests; digital experiences and NFT art galleries.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

I am really making sure we don’t become irrelevant. The world is changing faster than ever, and people are traveling and interacting in new ways every day. We need to meet people where they are and evolve in order to keep creating meaningful experiences for our guests.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Many of the traditional ideas and norms in the hospitality industry are becoming antiquated with the advent of new technologies that affect almost every aspect of our lives. By disrupting these old traditions, I strive to provide a fresh new way to look at our industry. I think that by embracing new ideas and tech we can create better business models and provide more personalized experiences for our consumers whether they are on property or at home.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

I think it’s helped us lean into meaningful disruption and trained us to respond to dramatic change. Some of the key ways that we have adjusted include embracing tech touchpoints, reducing waste, creating unique experiences, communicating effectively with our audience and guests, and expanding our offerings to the digital and virtual world.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

When I travel, I want to be completely unplugged and surrounded by nature. I love holistic health and wellness experiences. I found the Mashpi lodge in Ecuador, that is absolutely perfect. It seems so far from the world, and it is a day’s drive from cell service. That’s all I need.

Travel is not always about escaping, but about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

This is extremely important to me and my team. I believe that wellness is so much more than just providing a decent fitness center. It should be a holistic approach with touchpoints at every stage of the guest experience. At Dream Hollywood, we have incorporated things like rooftop yoga, peloton bikes in the fitness center, Therabody devices available for guests to use in their rooms, customized sleep experiences, in room massages, as well as health and wellness products tailored specifically to different times of day. We tried to identify the stresses that tend to come with travel — like jet lag, lack of sleep, physical stress, and leaving your home work out routine behind — and tailored our offerings around those.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I currently serve on around 35 boards locally and nationally, including LA Works, The Hollywood Partnership, and Los Angeles Tourism Board, which all give me the opportunity to provide a voice in the planning and execution of projects that affect people’s lives and well-being. I also participate in charity organizations, especially focused on feeding and supporting the unhoused population in Los Angeles, like the Hollywood Food Coalition. Coaching youth sports has also always been very important to me. I coach youth tackle football, softball, and track, teach applied science and offer myself as a mentor to kids as they navigate paths toward their careers. Giving back is the most important thing we can do, especially when it comes to kids, who will be our future.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement to teach financial literacy to people from underserved communities. Starting a program to help lift people out of the cycle of poverty, by understanding money, investment and entrepreneurship.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On Instagram at @vtothe2ndpower and follow Dream Hollywood at @dreamhollywood.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.