Bruce Himelstein is the Ritz-Carlton executive who transformed customer service for one of the world's most recognizable luxury brands, as featured prominently in the New York Times bestseller, The New Gold Standard.
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Bruce J. Himelstein - In the News
A hotelier, a CVB and U.S. Travel’s Roger Dow offer predictions for post-COVID-19 travel

Thursday, April 23, 2020
Posted by Travelweek Group

TORONTO — Post-COVID-19 predictions from Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, as well as hotel and CVB executives joining Dow for a webinar-style panel discussion this morning, are relevant not just for the U.S. but for the travel industry at large.

Presented live from sunny Florida, from the grounds of the Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, the panel discussion focused solely on the coronavirus crisis and featured keynote speaker Dow along with John C. Tolbert, President and Managing Director, Boca Raton Resort & Club and Jorge Pesquera, President & CEO of Discover the Palm Beaches. Bruce Himelstein, the moderator, is founder of The BJH Group and a former CMO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company & Loews Hotels.

Dow, a familiar figure for many in the Canadian travel industry thanks to his presence at IPW every year, says any predictions about the demise of the travel industry post-COVID-19 are way off the mark.

“I remember after 9/11, people said they’d never get on a plane again. And we watched as international travel grew wildly,” said Dow. “And I remember during the 2008 financial crisis, people said they saw real problems for the travel industry in the years ahead – and we went on to have our best 10 years ever.”

The COVID-19 pandemic and its border closures and travel restrictions are unprecedented, but they won’t beat the travel industry, says Dow. Rather, “we will be a better industry because of this.”

Dow and top level travel and tourism executives have met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, to talk about “the huge and disproportionate damage to the travel industry,” as Dow notes. “We were there to ask for money, quite frankly. And we got it, we got $250 billion.”

Here’s a look at the highlights from this morning’s discussion…


Discover the Palm Beaches President & CEO Jorge Pesquera says his CVB “had to pivot in a huge way” in its messaging, as just about every industry did in the immediate wake of the coronavirus crisis.

“We shifted to a message of empathy, and trust,” he said, adding that DMCs have to become a trusted and transparent source of information amid the pandemic.

The CVB’s strategy for staying in front of consumers and trade partners includes everything from direct outreach to webinars. The key, says Pesquera, is “always delivering a message of hope, and showing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dow says the USTA already has its eye on marketing strategies post-COVID-19. “We’ve got to come out with a huge promotional campaign when this is all over,” said Dow.


Everyone on the panel agreed that safety and high standards of cleanliness, and getting that message out to the travelling public, are paramount for any travel product, be it air, hotel, cruise or a destination, to come back post-COVID-19. “We have to do everything we can to let people know they can trust the product,” says Pesquera. “We need to meet that need to feel confidence in the product.”

The industry needs to work together on this one, says Dow. “It shouldn’t be a case of ‘my hotel is cleaner than your hotel’. We need a set of industry standards when it comes to cleanliness and health. We should have control of our own destiny rather than have our destiny controlled by someone else.”

Boca Resort – Travel Industry Update 2020 (1) from Dan Smith on Vimeo.

Lakeview Health Welcomes a New Member to the Board of Directors

Lakeview Health is pleased to announce Bruce Himelstein, a globally recognized brand marketing expert, has joined the board of directors. Himelstein is the founder and CEO of The BJH Group and a former executive of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He has been recognized by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association as one of the top 25 most extraordinary minds in sales and marketing.

“We are honored to have Mr. Himelstein as a member of our board of directors and look forward to his input as we continue to expand,” said Lakeview Health CEO Roy M. Serpa. “We have begun laying the groundwork for expansion to provide more treatment resources across the country. Mr. Himelstein will be instrumental in guiding us as we grow our marketing channels to increase awareness across the U.S. and help even more people transform their lives.”

Himelstein has worked with some of the most prestigious domestic and global brands in the travel and hospitality industry during his more than 30-year career. He has set global standards in hospitality, marketing and C-level executive management. With The BJH Group, Himelstein serves as a marketing, hospitality industry and luxury brand consultant to help growing and established businesses achieve new levels of success. He is also a business facilitator and helps businesses organize projects and plans.

“As Lakeview Health continues to provide top-tier treatment to individuals across the country, offering the best patient experience is a priority,” said Brian Potts, operating partner of The Riverside Company, which acquired Lakeview Health in 2016. “Mr. Himelstein brings expertise in providing world-class customer service. We look forward to collaborating with him and innovating how customer experience and patient experience intersect within addiction treatment.”

Himelstein began his service with the board of directors on Aug. 1. The Lakeview Health board of directors meets on a quarterly basis.

About Lakeview Health
Lakeview Health, located in Jacksonville, FL, serves individuals with addiction and psychiatric disorders. Staff offer an integrative health approach that addresses the medical, psychological, physical and spiritual aspects of recovery. Their gender-responsive programs host unique treatment features that cater to women and men independently. They provide a continuum of care, allowing patients to move successfully toward a life in recovery. To learn more, visit

Ivanka Trump Has One Swanky Business Left

In an article posted on June 22, 2017, Kim Bhasin, Lindsey Rupp, and Natalie Obiko Pearson shared their insight into the Trump name, with their new Hotels and Ivanka’s involvement .  Bruce shared his thoughts as to the approach with his expertise in Hospitality.  You can read the excerpt below, and also read the full article here: Ivanka Trump Has One Swanky Business Left Her full name graces luxury spas offering diamond brightening and citrus drenches. But will it make a difference in this climate?

“…And these days, of course, there’s the acidic political climate. Opening spas under Ivanka’s full name “softens the Trump blow” for people entering a Trump hotel, said Bruce Himelstein, a former executive at Loews and Ritz-Carlton who now runs consulting firm BJH Group. Perhaps so, but it’s become clear from protests and counter-protests since the election that the Ivanka Trump brand is also problematic for many retailers. Some have dropped her products altogether. Others have sought to appease those who detest her father by dropping her label from websites, while simultaneously nodding to his supporters by stocking her items in stores.”

Florida’s Be On Park Named 2017 LUXURY Retailer of the Year

Shared on, Melissa Rose Bernardo shared a great post on June 5th, 2017 about Be On Park winning 2017 LUXURY Retailer of the Year.  Bruce joined the event with some inspiring insights during the event


After an Oscars-inspired tease declaring the winner La La Land, on June 4 Reed Jewelry Group industry vice president Sarin Bachmann revealed the 2017 LUXURY Retailer of the Year: Be On Park.


The Winter Park, Fla., fine jeweler was one of five finalists, including Oklahoma City’s BC Clark Jewelers; Jack Lewis Jewelers of Bloomington, Ill.; Talisman Collection of El Dorado Hills, Calif.; and Worthmore Jewelers of Decatur, Ga. (Previous LUXURY ROTY winners include Crocker’s Jewelers, J.R. Dunn, and Schmitt Jewelers.)


After the reveal, BJH Group’s Bruce Himelstein (pictured above) shared a bit of wisdom gleaned during his many years with the Ritz-Carlton: Luxury customers aren’t easy to spot (they wear “torn jeans with $300 Gucci flip-flops,” he said); strange bedfellows can be the best kind (e.g., Kohl’s and Vera Wang); and “great service” isn’t enough: “Jiffy Lube gives great service.” 

(Pictured at top: Bachmann, second from left, with Be On Park’s Janice and David Blumberg and Matina Williams)



To Transform Your Brand, Put Customers First

BOCA RATON, FL—For Bruce Himelstein, hospitality is his lifeblood. His first job was a bellman and one of his proudest moments was receiving a recognition award from Marriott International’s Bill Marriott while his father looked on. He is also proud of efforts to “blow the dust off the lion and crown” at the Ritz-Carlton. It is these moments that help to shape a meaningful hospitality career of more than 30 years. You don’t have this kind of longevity without adding a few rules to the playbook. Now, as a speaker and consultant for the BJH Group, Himelstein details his experiences to other businesses and reveals strategies used at luxury hotels to transform brands from the inside out.

“I pinch myself every day that my experience and body of work resonates across industries. It’s very gratifying,” said Himelstein. “I think eye contact and listening skills are a lost art. Be better than anyone at this and your customers will remember you. Also, you’ve got to set the example. Surround yourself with people that commit and let them do their jobs.”

Read more…

Implementing The Ritz-Carlton’s Gold Standard of Service Across Senior Living

Senior living leaders share how they use direction from Ritz-Carlton’s service standards in their communities and why good customer service matters. – Expanding Senior Living
By Debbie Reslock
February 24, 2017

“…You need to measure your customer service efforts so you know how you’re doing, Himelstein says. But after you reach your goals, make sure you’re keeping up.

Even Ritz-Carlton ended up needing what became known as the “Blow the Dust Off the Lion and Crown” campaign. The lion and crown logo had long represented the company’s formality, but it was no longer positioned to grab the next generation, according to Himelstein, who authored and implemented the program. So it was designed to be more contemporary, and the marketing approach was changed to be less stiff and a little more accessible instead of intimidating.

Himelstein also alerts senior living executives to be aware of industry disruption. “You need to always be asking what can happen next,” he says. “Like Uber and Airbnb, companies who created new platforms to fill unmet needs, something will disrupt the senior living industry. I don’t know what it is, but it’s coming…”

Read more

"Trump, Name Now Awash in Controversy, Readies Scion as New Brand"

Bruce has been features and consulted on a current political matter in a recent Bloomberg Article:

“…Since entering the race last year, Trump has offended groups including Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled and veterans. A video from 2005 that showed him bragging about making lewd advances on women prompted almost a dozen to say he’d harassed them — claims that he strongly denies. Those associations will make corporate clients less likely to book Trump-branded properties, said Bruce Himelstein, a former chief marketing officer for Loews and Ritz-Carlton hotels.
“He’s now a polarizing figure. When he was putting his hotels together, he wasn’t,” said Himelstein, now a consultant. “There’s definitely an impact.”

Read More

Luxury Institute's 7 Rule-Breaking Moves Needed Now to Flourish in the Most Perplexing Luxury and Retail Market Ever

Bruce was recently interviewed for the Luxury Institute published on September 6, 2016

“…This is definitely not a run-of-the-mill downturn. As an Italian luxury CEO recently told the Luxury Institute, “I was here in 2008, and we all knew that once the stock market and real estate values came back, so would luxury spending. This time with the stock market and real estate at record high levels, we still have a horrible downturn.” Another luxury multi-brand President, citing a top ten list of negative macroeconomic factors and, another top ten list of consumer habit shifts, stated that, combined, these factors represent the most perplexing period he has experienced in three decades. Just one grim example of reality: according to travel expert Bruce Himelstein, former CMO for The Ritz-Carlton, Loews Hotels, and Asset Manager for The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, a few of the largest hotel companies have their cut forecasts due to the continuing slowdown in global tourism. And there is no upturn in sight.”

Tuxedo Road Cover

Leading hospitality marketer Bruce J Himelstein is redefining the luxury hotel experience.

An Article By Beth Weitzman

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