MIAMI BEACH, FL—Turning a tragedy into a celebration of life by promoting the legacy of a lost loved one can assist family members coping with grief and loss. This process can be an open one, welcoming outsiders into the clan. What began as a tribute to a child, transformed into the hospitality brand known as Nikki Beach Worldwide.
A family-owned business, Nikki Beach has its founder, Jack Penrod, as its CEO. His wife, Lucia, is the company’s chief branding officer. “They are both active in every aspect of the brand and the brand’s growth,” said Thomas Brosig, president of the multifaceted lifestyle and hospitality brand.
Six core elements define Nikki Beach: music, dining, entertainment, fashion, film and art. “All of these elements are flawlessly executed by our well-trained and extremely competent staff,” he said. “The six elements make up our core mission to celebrate life.” Specifically, this refers to the life of Nicole, Jack’s daughter, whose life was cut short in a car accident back in 1997. “The concept was born to always remember Nicole’s joyous and infectious spirit,” Brosig said.
The brand’s six elements also correlate to the five senses—plus one. “Our brand is about feeling alive and celebrating life with friends and family,” Penrod said. “Every single one of the six elements touch our sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste—hence our brand’s motto: ‘Celebration of Life.’”
What he remembers most about Nikki? Her “joy of life.” He continued, “She was constantly having fun, singing and dancing. She truly embraced life and had a tender soul; she never saw bad in anyone. She also had a lot of wisdom for her tender age.”
The CEO’s original idea—Café Nikki, a garden by the sea—began as a tribute, not as a business. “There was no place on Miami Beach that offered a Zen-like space with so much beauty and magic,” Brosig said. “It began as—and still is—a place to relax and share life’s special moments with good friends. It became home to aspiring models, young actors, celebrities and fun-loving locals—all happy to celebrate life together.” A year later, Nikki Beach opened—after the initial concept had been expanded to the adjacent beach.
Grown mainly through word of mouth, Nikki Beach now has three business segments: beach clubs, resorts and rooftops. The brand has locations in Miami Beach, FL; Saint Tropez, France; Saint Barth, French West Indies; Marbella, Spain; Marrakesh, Morocco; Koh Samui, Thailand; Mallorca, Spain; Ibiza, Spain; Porto Heli, Greece; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Dubai; Bodrum, Turkey; and Versilia, Italy. Nikki Beach also has a pop-up location during the Cannes Film Festival. The Hotels & Resorts division has properties in Koh Samui, Thailand; Porto Heli, Greece; Bodrum, Turkey; and Dubai.
“Someone once asked me how it felt to be the one that changed the way people party around the world, and that was an eye-opening question for me,” Penrod said. “Up until then, I had never thought of the business that way, but I have to say now that I’m proud of this fact. We are the ones who created the concept of club partying during the day. You give it all at Nikki Beach and go home for dinner. And then, you are ready to do it all over again the next day.”
Asked if it’s tougher to run a business born out of the love for a passed child, he replied, “No, it’s not harder but it keeps me on my toes.” For him, part of his role as CEO is to ensure the legacy of his daughter lives on. He does this on a day-to-day basis by holding the company to standards of integrity and values. “There are just some things we will never do as a brand because at the root of it all—it’s all about Nicole,” he said.
Facing increased competition from “firms who attempt to knock off the brand,” Nikki Beach has continued to do what’s best for the guests, Brosig said. Aesthetics isn’t everything; its success can be attributed to its approach to hospitality (its six elements). “We are seeing many hospitality companies lowering their standards to hold their profit margins, and thinking the customers will not know,” Brosig said, speaking on industry trends. “They are wrong—the customers always know. Our efforts focus on customer retention and customer loyalty through multi-location visits within the same season.”
Throughout 2016, Nikki Beach restructured its marketing and finance department to develop new ways to promote its guiding principles and report performance information to its execs. “Better, more timely information makes better managers of us all,” he said.
Cautious is how he described Nikki Beach’s expansion approach; there’s a specific process involving location, feasibility analysis, financial planning and analysis. It also includes the detailing of legal processes and the documenting of partnership objectives, obligations and capitalization guidelines. “The feasibility study looks to population income logistics and exposure as critical components for success,” he said.
That being said, with 13 beach club locations and four resorts worldwide, Nikki Beach is looking to expand its footprint in 2017 with a new beach club in Barbados, which will sit on 1.4 acres of beachfront property. The location will consist of a restaurant, a pool and beach access with oceanfront seating for up to 200 guests. “After much research and careful thought, the location was carefully selected as our second Nikki Beach in the Caribbean,” Brosig said. “We will not only serve lunch but will be open for dinner as well to appeal to the locals and maximize on our return. Dinner is a relatively unique offering for our brand as we tend to focus on daytime service.” Yachts will be able to dock directly at the location. A water shuttle service will be offered at the property as well.
The worldwide company also plans to develop a “very high-end” seafood restaurant offering many Caribbean dishes and specialty drinks; as of now, it will be called Key West. “Beyond that, our pipeline for hotels, beach clubs and rooftops is very robust, but it would be premature to identify our target markets before our advance work is done,” Brosig said.
“This year will be a ‘pivot’ year for Nikki Beach,” the brand’s president explained. “It will also be my first year at the helm. While Jack remains at the top of the company operationally, I’m putting my imprint organizationally. I will be working on talent development, streamlining all departments and strengthening brand imaging.”