President of Columbia Hospitality
Hospitality management and consulting company.
An established hotelier and restaurateur, Bret Matteson’s expertise draws from over 20 years of extensive hospitality experience. Early in his career, Bret worked and participated in opening luxury hotels in North America, Hawaii and Australia for both Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons hotel companies. He now considers himself a recluse from the world of large corporate hospitality companies, preferring the hands-on, entrepreneurial involvement with team members, owners, and guests that Columbia Hospitality’s premier hospitality projects offer. Since joining Columbia Hospitality Bret has been a significant contributor in the growth of the portfolio of properties, taking the company into international operations and expanding the wealth of services provided to its clients. This has resulted in the company growing from 6 properties in the state of Washington to 31 properties operating in seven states and Lisbon, Portugal. He credits this growth to the support, dedication and phenomenal results delivered by the highly talented Columbia Hospitality team members.
My go to books are: Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy by Isadore Sharp, and Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz.
Design and architecture are certainly important to ensure the basic comforts of the guest. However, what I see as more important is the superb guest service our team members provide which puts the heart and soul into our buildings. They take the extra steps to relate with each guest, building trust and connections to anticipate needs, and learn preferences which ultimately create unique and memorable experiences. In my experience, that far outweighs the bricks and mortar of the physical structure.
Importance of location:
Location is very critical and at Columbia Hospitality we’re fortunate that each one of our properties is in a compelling and unique location that best represents that destination. For example, Kenwood Inn and Spa is pure bliss and relaxation in Northern California wine country, Salish Lodge & Spa near Seattle perfectly represents Pacific Northwest style and beauty, and Knob Hill Inn in Sun Valley, Idaho offers unparalleled guest service and European charm with a backdrop of amazing mountain views.
Qualities that make a 5 Star Hotelier:
A 5 Star hotelier must have a keen attention to detail; they must be resilient, and compassionate but uncompromising in regards to quality. A mindset of continual improvement and emotional intelligence—being able to connect with all types of people—are also essential. Finally, a 5 Star hotelier must check their ego and realize that they are there to serve.
His industry knowledge and management expertise is diverse and well-rounded, including operations, finance, human resources, food and beverage, training and development, process improvement, labor relations, pre-opening development, and overall management of hotels, conference centers, golf operations and unique venues.
Prior to joining Columbia Hospitality in 2001, Bret was the opening general manager for the 425-room Elliott Hotel in Seattle. He also made his mark on the opposite coast, serving as food and beverage director of the 900-room, five-diamond New York Palace Hotel. During his career, Bret also opened and operated two 400-seat restaurants, which included the launching of off-site catering and wholesale baking companies.
Bret is active in the hospitality industry, formally serving on the board of Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Washington State Lodging Association. He has also authored hospitality expert columns and articles for the Puget Sound Business Journal, National Hotel Executive as well as acting as the key note speaker for the African Hospitality Conference.
Bret earned a Bachelor of Science in Business and Finance from San Diego State University.