Get To Know Meadowood’s General Manager Patrick Nayrolles

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unspecifiedPhoto Credit: Meadowood Napa Valley

One of the best resorts in the Napa Valley, Meadowood is also a leading hotel when it comes to local community involvement. It’s the venue of Auction Napa Valley and the magnificent 10 days of music, art, food, wine, and fundraising that is Festival Napa Valley. Meadowood’s general manager Patrick Nayrolles has a fascinating story. He followed in his father Maurice Nayrolles’ footsteps—Maurice was the GM of Meadowood from 1986 to 1994. Here, we chat with Patrick about his hotelier experience and his passion for Meadowood and Napa Valley.

Olivia Hsu Decker: Tell me about your childhood. Did your father’s job impact your adult life decision to become a hotelier?

Patrick Nayrolles: I was born to French parents, Claudine and Maurice Nayrolles, in Suresnes, a suburb of Paris. Having a father who was a hotel general manager meant we moved quite often, so I experienced many cultures and countries growing up.  When my father managed the Lyford Cay Club, I was raised in the Bahamas for seven years, where I learned English. We moved to Portugal, where I learned French, as my father was going to oversee a resort in the Algarve. Unfortunately, the revolution happened, and we soon moved. He had to find a new job, which was ultimately to open and manage the Meridien in Morocco. I lived there for one year; and also during this year, my father told me he placed me on the waiting list to go to the Hotel School of Lausanne—the waitlist at that time was eight years long.

We moved to Sardinia for five years, where my father was managing the Yacht, Gold, and Tennis Club of the Aga Khan in Porto Cervo. I began boarding school in the French Alps, for three years when my parents moved to Miami to open the Pavilion with Trust House Forte. My father stayed there three years while I then moved to a boarding school in Geneva, Switzerland called Institut Florimont. By the time I finally started at the Lausanne hotel school, my parents went to New York City to open the Plaza Athenee.

My father came to Napa through a Meadowood member he had met in the Bahamas. It was initially going to be a two-year job because my father wanted to retire at the age of 65, but he ended up staying eight years. I mention all of this history to illustrate and explain the true impact my father had on me. I was born and raised in hotels, and I am now a hotelier, myself. While I still decided to go to the Lausanne school, I had intended to study economics and not pursue a hotel career. I didn’t like all of the travel and moving I had to do as a kid growing up in the hotel world.

At the end of school, I eventually decided to pursue a hotel career and started to work in hotels with the goal of only working in the highest category of hotels in the world, just like my father did. Now my career is the one moving my family around the world! Initially, my son did not like all of the travel; he felt the same way about it as I did as a young boy. But, he’s coming around–also like me–and is now studying at Lycee Technique Hotelier of Monaco.

Patrick Nayrolles
Patrick Nayrolles

Photo Credit: Meadowood Napa Valley

OHD: After being the director at the Monte Carlo Beach Club in Abu Dhabi, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco, and Cipriani in Venice, what prompted you to take on the GM role at Domaine de Manville in Les Beaux de Province and return to the US at Meadowood?

PN: I was offered the opening of the Domaine de Manville close to Les Beaux, so I happily decided to take the challenge. To tell you the truth, I also came back to France because my wife did not love the heat in Abu Dhabi! Back when my parents were in the Napa Valley, I visited Meadowood in 1987, so I knew of the property. I was in the States as a trainee for the opening of the Nikko in San Francisco. After that experience, I always wanted to come back to Northern California. My dream came true when I later called Bill Harlan, Meadowood’s Founding Partner. I called him because my father had asked me to; Bill told me he was looking for a GM at Meadowood as Alex Kim was leaving. I jumped at this opportunity. I never imagined I would get my working visa, but it worked.

One of the hotel's guestrooms
One of the hotel’s guestrooms

Photo Credit: Meadowood Napa Valley

OHD: What are your ideas to improve Meadowood which is already an excellent resort?

PN: I am pretty much keeping the unique Napa Valley lifestyle, only slightly refining when needed or possible. The idea when I arrived was to help continue service training alongside my executive team. We wanted to make sure the service levels continued to be enhanced alongside the capital investment made by our owners, which had begun years before. Before I arrived, Meadowood’s director of marketing, communications, and membership, Ann Marie Conover, fully introduced, as well as had begun to integrate, Forbes service standards with our team.

Through the thoughtful and professional dedication of the entire Meadowood team, I’m proud to say our property recently joined an elite group of only 13 hotels in the world to have all three Five-Star designations (hotel, restaurant, and spa) at the same property. The Restaurant at Meadowood earned its Five-Star designation first in 2013, followed by the Meadowood Spa winning its Five Stars in 2017 after being open for one year. The hard part now is to maintain that level and deliver on the new expectations we have set for ourselves and our guests. We want Meadowood to continue to be a home away from home for our guests and a social hub in the Napa Valley for our members.

The resort's golf course
The resort’s golf course

Photo Credit: Meadowood Napa Valley

OHD: What do you think of Auction Napa Valley and Festival Napa Valley? Were you in the auction room when the $1 million bid came for the Pebble Beach US Open auction lot? This level of generosity rarely happens in France and other countries.

PN: I completely agree with this; my wife and I often talk about it, as we are not used to this level of generosity in our country. It is a different mindset here in the States. Even though personal success is so highly sought after, it is through this success that people have the means to help those in need. We are fortunate to be the host of these two beautiful philanthropic events.

Regarding Festival Napa Valley, I do want to clarify that we are not hosting an auction this year. In years past, Meadowood was proud to host the gala and auction. Beginning last year, and also for this year, we are hosting the opening night event. This year, the event is called, “Opening Night: Opera Under the Stars at Meadowood with Nadine Sierra.”

The Restaurant at Meadowood
The Restaurant at Meadowood

Photo Credit: Meadowood Napa Valley

OHD: I met your celebrated chef Christopher Kostow at Meadowood when he first started working at The Restaurant. What do you think of his cooking?

PN: When my wife and I sat down for our first dinner in The Restaurant, we thought we knew what to expect. The experience was even better and exceeded all of our previous expectations. Chef created refined, simple foods with little butter and no cream—what a delight. Plus, the service was a beautiful ballet of people around our table. My best experience yet, in a Michelin three-star restaurant.

The tennis courts
The tennis courts

Photo Credit: Meadowood Napa Valley

OHD: What challenges have you encountered as a Frenchman managing a five-star hotel in California?

PN: France is much more complicated regarding all the labor laws. Here, it’s a pleasure to work with people who are eager to grow and learn.

OHD: Who are the most inspiring people in your life?

PN: First, my mother and father, for all of the experiences they have given me, for everything they taught me in life, and that they continue to show me. I would also mention my lovely wife, daughter, and son that have followed me all around the world, discovering different languages and cultures. My GM at the Cipriani in Venice, Dr. Natale Rusconi, who taught me everything that I apply at Meadowood today. Also, the Father in charge of Florimont that saved me from a scholar disaster and gave me a great life structure still used today in my life.

The spa
The spa

Photo Credit: Meadowood Napa Valley

OHD: What do you do to balance your busy schedule? Do you get to relax in the hotel facility sometimes?

PN: I live near the property, so I do take advantage when I can. I mostly enjoy playing tennis on one of the courts. I play every Sunday morning with our tennis pro, Doug King. King is the one who gave me lessons 32 years ago when I was visiting my parents as a student. I also enjoy the golf course, some croquet, and dining in The Grill. My wife does take advantage of going to the Spa when she can.

OHD: What’s the advice you offer to people who want to develop a career like yours?

PN: I think you need to be passionate and resilient; it is a beautiful world to live in.

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