William L. Evans is an Executive Board Member for Evans Hotels and is responsible for spearheading redevelopment of existing hotels and all business development activities for the company, including growth and expansion of the company’s portfolio.
Mr. Evans began his career with Evans Hotels as General Manager of the Bahia in 1984. He later became Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Evans Hotels, a position he held until March 2014. During his time as EVP and Managing Director, Mr. Evans assembled a team of leading architects, historians, artisans, and artists to create The Lodge at Torrey Pines while overseeing all management, operation, and marketing activities for the company.
Mr. Evans, who has a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from Cornell University, currently serves as Treasurer/Director of the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD). He also is Chairman of the SDTMD Ad Hoc Marketing Advisory Committee and President of the Mission Bay Lessees Association. Previously, he served as President and spent 6 years on the San Diego Convention Center Corporation and is a past President and Chairman of the San Diego Hotel-Motel Association. He is a passionate collector of California Impressionist art, rare specimen palm trees and subtropical plants, and antique racing automobiles.
THE EVANS STORY . . .
When I first decided to build The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and I saw the Torrey Pines Golf Course, I knew we had an opportunity to create something incredibly special. We had a choice of building something that would intrude upon the golf course, or we could do something that celebrates the nature and complements the existing golf course. We chose the latter – and we chose to showcase the beauty of the area.
Torrey Pines is such an interesting and unique destination. It’s the only place in the world where this type of pine tree is found. We built The Lodge in harmony with nature and early California craftsman architecture is about utilizing natural materials. We wanted to bring elements of the course and the nature into the hotel. Our goal was to create an environment where everything you see is authentic and real.
In 2002, we opened The Lodge at Torrey Pines with the AAA Five Diamond status – and that’s the only time a resort has opened with that distinction. Since the opening – The Lodge and Torrey Pines Golf Course have been true partners.
MATT WARD: What lessons were learned in the lodging arena following The Great Recession?
WILLIAM EVANS: The recession was a difficult time for all companies — especially so for the travel and hospitality industry. At Evans Hotels, we are a family-owned company and taking care of our employees—meaning no layoffs—was really important for us. Our staff worked extremely hard during that time and we evaluated every single expense in order to keep our staff. The recession reminded us that our employees are our number one asset.
MW: What are customers mostly looking for when making lodging decisions?
WE: Location is key. The Lodge at Torrey Pines is located in La Jolla, California just steps from the world famous Torrey Pines Golf Course overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Our other two properties, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa and the Bahia Resort Hotel, are located on the beaches of Mission Bay in San Diego. Guests also look for authentic service and exceptional experiences.
MW: The biggest challenge you see in the near term is what and how are you dealing with it now?
WE: Staying ahead of the ever-changing technology is always going to be a challenge. We invest time and talent into staying ahead of the curve.
MW: Many companies today are touting customer service. Define the term.
WE: Customer service should be organic and proactive. It’s not intruding on someone’s experience, but rather anticipating their needs. At our hotels, we’ve hired only people with that innate hospitality talent, and it’s an ongoing effort to continue training our staff. We set very high service standards at our properties.
MW: The biggest work pet peeve you have is what?
WE: Inconsistent service.
MW: The lodging category is a very competitive one — how should someone handle success and failure?
WE: Actively look at both successes as well as failures as learning opportunities.
MW: The Lodge at Torrey Pines is literally connected to the hip with the Torrey Pines Golf Course — the annual site of the Farmers Insurance Open and in 2021 with the US Open returning. What does that location provide for your brand?
WE: The Lodge at Torrey Pines and the Torrey Pines Golf Course are partners. Visitors have the opportunity to play two stunning championship golf courses while also having the option to dine, spa and stay at our AAA Five Diamond resort just steps away. It’s truly a way for guests to have it all in one very special destination.
MW: On your bucket list — what lodging establishment would you like to stay at when visiting — either domestically or internationally?
WE: The Icehotel in Sweden. It’s one of the most unique properties I’ve seen.
MW: Golf is famous in providing for mulligans — if you had to take a mulligan for something you had done what would you do differently?
WE: I could tell you, but I’d go to jail. And in life, you don’t get mulligans.
MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
WE: “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” — Princess Bride.