11 Questions with: Sarah Wetenhall
While we’re currently nestled up at home, we’re dreaming of future days of fun in the sun at everyone’s favorite Pink Paradise, The Colony Hotel. Team J.McLaughlin sat down (via Zoom, of course) with the property’s super smart and ultra-stylish President & CEO, Sarah Wetenhall, to talk all things future travel, the history behind the property, and Palm Beach style.
1. What is your advice on supporting the travel industry right now? Advice for planning future travel?
This is such a challenging time for everyone right now—those of us in the travel and hospitality industry don’t know what the future of the business will look like, or what our guests will expect going forward when travel opens up. But we ALL are dreaming of the day when we can explore destinations, both new and old, once again. So until that time, my advice is that if you would like to support the hospitality industry you can purchase a gift card to your favorite hotel or restaurant for a future visit—or go ahead and call up and book a stay for a date in late 2020 or 2021. For example, we have currently suspended operations at The Colony Palm Beach for the time being due to COVID-19, but we are accepting reservations from November 2020 onward via telephone and email. And we are telling our customers that when they are comfortable traveling again we will be here at our Pink Paradise ready to greet them offering our Gracious Hospitality just as before! We may have masks and gloves and hand sanitizer…but our warm welcome will be unchanged.
2. What Inspired You to Buy The Colony?
The Colony has actually been a part of the Wetenhall family for over five decades! My father-in-law, Bob Wetenhall, purchased the hotel together with his business partner in 1969, and so my husband Andrew and his brother grew up coming regularly to The Colony. When Andrew and I had the opportunity to bring ownership of The Colony back into the Wetenhall family, we frankly couldn’t pass it up. Andrew and I share a mutual love of travel; we find joy in seeing the world together and discovering different hospitality situations - while at the same time we would always come back and visit the touch point of The Colony while it was under previous ownership. We knew in our gut, after being guests for so very long, that the hotel was not reaching its potential - and that we could help guide it into the future while preserving its legacy of gracious hospitality. But we are actually in this business at the suggestion and encouragement of Andrew’s father - for years Bob has told us stories about how the time he spent owning and running The Colony were some of the most fulfilling and most enjoyable years of his life. He encouraged us to get into hospitality - and to date he is our biggest cheerleader and fan.
3. The First Words That Come To Mind When You Think Of The Colony:
That is a good question! ‘Pink Paradise’ comes to mind, without a doubt, as does ‘gracious hospitality.’ But there is one of our internal brand tenets that best epitomizes how I think of the hotel: ‘The Colony is passionate and playful, with one foot in the sand and one foot on Worth Avenue. She is as likely to be enjoying a two-martini lunch as she is to be playing tag with her children on the beach. She is the essence of Palm Beach; an ageless, energetic life force.’
4. Favorite Hotel Nook?
My favorite spot is underneath the hanging garden of the Palm Court, next to the swimming pool. I can sit there working on my laptop or on a conference call, while taking advantage of the warm weather and enjoying the people watching of Palm Beach!
6. The Best Work Advice You’ve Ever Received:
Shortly after Andrew and I purchased The Colony, a dear friend shared with me Aristotle’s quote, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” This has stuck with me as important advice as we have evolved the business over the last three years – and as we continue to grow and change.
Get the Look: Maria Halter Dress in Saddle Geo
7. Go-To Palm Beach Wardrobe:
Palm Beach style should be bright, fresh and feminine—while at the same time maintain elements of classic restraint. The perfect Palm Beach style has a timeless sophistication that mirrors that of the island itself.
For me personally this means dresses, dresses and more dresses! Particularly printed sundresses—and flowing maxi-dresses that will make a statement. White jeans are a necessity, as are fun and festive flat sandals and a whole host of fabulous sunglasses. Sun hats are also a must. And don’t forget a great clutch bag for luncheons, cocktail parties and going out at night…particularly one in a great skin or a pop of color!
8. What’s In Your Beach Bag?
I have three little kids, so my beach bag is generally focused upon them! I consider it a success if I get out the door with my Eugenia Kim straw sun hat, Olio E Osso Balm No. 3 to give my lips a little color, and a tube of Missha BB Cream. And TONS of sunscreen—my entire family uses Sconset organic mineral sunscreen, which we sell at the The Colony (of course!). Other than that, my beach bag is jammed full of Bling2o goggles and wet bathing suits…what can I say?!?
Get the Look: Harper Beach Bag in Royal Palm
9. Favorite Color:
I have always naturally appreciated color and whimsy, both in my personal wardrobe as well as in home décor, and so I really have never had a ‘favorite’ color. And then my husband and I bought a big pink hotel three years ago! It is funny…and I now look around and realize that everything in my life is PINK. How fabulous is that?
10. Must-Order Food & Drink At The Colony:
Twin burgers from Swifty’s at The Colony are my absolute favorite meal for either lunch or dinner – you can’t go wrong. They are served without the bun, so I feel somewhat less guilty for ordering them on a daily basis! Ha. And I am obsessed with all of the cocktails at the CPB bar. We have partnered with BarLab (the creators of Broken Shaker in Miami) to re work our entire cocktail program at The Colony, and the results are amazing! But my very favorite drink is the ‘Spicy Socialite’ – a tequila based drink that is dangerously delicious.
11. The Person I Admire Most:
Hands down, my husband and best friend Andrew. He is the happiest, kindest, most intelligent person I know. Someday I will figure out how he does it!
Shop Sarah's looks and more in our New Arrivals!