Manhattan hotelier Hank Freid is a busy man. A hands on approach to the running of his company The Impulsive Group, a portfolio of boutique hotels and hostels, means that he is always heavily involved in the day to day logistics of the business. This includes participating in the hiring process of every new member of staff within the Group. It’s a time consuming process but one that results in what he says is the USP of his hotels: fantastic service. “I’ve got different levels of hotels,” he says. “But whether it’s a four star hotel or a two star hotel or a youth hostel, we still provide the same service and providing the service is really the most important thing.”

“Everybody has to go through me before they get hired, whether it’s a handyman, a maid, any position at all,” Freid continues. “I’ve got to meet that person or at least speak to them on the phone prior to the final hiring stage and that’s how I can keep a grasp on how my guests are going to relate to them. Because of that they all have really good personalities, they are all people’s people and when they interact with guests it’s done with sincerity and with a good feeling. That’s what makes my company a little bit different from most companies.”

Freid has been running hotels in central Manhattan since 1990 and the Group owns several properties, including his latest project the Sanctuary Hotel in Times Square. Prior to that he had developed buildings in the outskirts of the borough into hotels, which was what evolved into the business he runs today. Working for himself since he was 21 years old, he tells us that he never wanted to be in a position where his fate was in the hands of someone else, which is why he still takes pleasure from what he does. “I’m always high in my career because I always enjoy what I’m doing,” he says. “There’s always stress and there’s always aggravation in every business and I guess I’ve had my share, but I like what I’m doing and I don’t think of Sunday night as a time to be worrying about going to work Monday morning.”

Latest venture, The Sanctuary Hotel

Son Brandon is now also heavily involved in the business, and father and son operate as a duo in many aspects of the organisation. “As a young kid he worked in probably every department that there was and he enjoyed doing that. It was something he always wanted to do and it wasn’t something I forced him into doing,” says Freid, who is clearly very proud of his son. “I’m very lucky. He’s very smart, very good and very ambitious and we get along pretty good together too.”

Freid is extremely close to son Brandon, who works alongside him in the business

Although extremely passionate about his work, family time is evidently important to Freid. A long time yachtsman, he currently owns two yachts, 35.2m Impulsive and 25m Impulsive Too. “I try living life to its fullest,” he tells us. “When I’m out there on the boat I try to enjoy it as much as I can.” Originally purchased by Fried and family for private use, the yachts are now also part of The Impulsive Group’s portfolio and chartered out, something that was never the intention. “Being in the hospitality business I thought it might be a good idea if we went ahead and chartered the boats,” says Freid. “I don’t charter the boats heavily, I pick and choose who the boat goes to. We get good amounts of interest, the problem is that I usually use the boat on the times when most people want to charter them.”

35.2m Impulsive

Freid’s journey into the world of superyachting began on a much smaller scale than his yachts of today back in 1987 when he bought his first boat, a 36ft Carver, after looking for an activity that the whole family could take part in. “Everybody thought I was crazy to buy such a big boat,” he says. “I told them I was buying a boat like that because everyone talks about wanting bigger and bigger and bigger and I figured I might eventually jump ahead a few steps, buy a 40ft boat and never have to worry about buying a bigger boat again.” Famous last words.

Despite now owning two superyachts, Freid’s love affair with yachting was almost over as quickly as it began, as the purchase of the Carver was somewhat a baptism of fire. “When I bought the boat I didn’t know much about boating […] I didn’t realise that boats don’t have breaks and after being out and having a nice day enjoying yourself, you had to bring the boat back and rinse it down,” he explains. “I also thought that once you come out of the port you can go wherever you wanted to. I never realised that you had to go according to the buoys and there is deep water and shallow water.” Freid recalls how after using the boat only a couple of times over two weeks he went straight back to the dealer, gave him the keys and said: ‘I’m not interested, just sell the boat.’

“I came back after about a month and said ‘did you sell the boat’ and he said ‘no’,” he laughs. “He said that he figured I’d cool off and come back and if I wanted him to sell it then he’d sell it.” The boat was not sold and thankfully to as clearly with Freid now the owner of not one, but two large yachts, the Carver was just the beginning of more than 25 years of ownership.

Enjoying the yachting lifestyle more and more, his yachts progressed up in size, moving from the Carver to a Cigarette power boat, to a 14.6m Superhawk Sunseeker, then on to an 18.2m Sunseeker Predator. Next came a 22.8m Predator, which he kept for a couple of years, before selling and buying the 25m Predator, Impulsive Too. The purchase of 35.2m Impulsive came in 2007 and was intended to replace Impulsive Too, but Freid tells us that he felt that both boats provided a different type of enjoyment on the water, so he decided not to sell the Sunseeker after all.

Impulsive is a popular charter boat

In recent years the Impulsive yachts have moved between St Tropez, St Barths and the US, with Europe a favourite place to visit. “My favourite place is the Med and the usual spots that everybody else goes to: St Tropez, Sardinia, Cap Ferrat,” he says. “Those are the places I really, really enjoy.” 2013 has seen Freid make a real point of spending time on board. “Every year, for about ten years, I always say I want to spend more time on board, so this year I really made a point of making commitments to time on board so I couldn’t back out of it. When I’m on the boat I love it.”

Going back to his hospitality business, Freid’s belief in the importance of good service in his hotels extends to his yachts and ensuring he has the right crew on board is what he says is a crucial element of what makes the yachting experience so enjoyable. Unsurprisingly, like in his hotels, he also hand picks the crew for his yachts, and Freid insists the results are worth the time this takes. “My hotels have their reputations for good service and so I sort of take that with me to the boat,” he explains.

The full interview with Hank Freid will appear in issue 9 of The Superyacht Owner.

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