Owner George Filopoulos On The Evolution Of Gurney’s Hotels

Gurneys Star Island

Photo Credit: Gurneys

George Filopoulos is the mastermind behind some of the most beloved resorts in America with the haute hotel brand, Gurney’s. The company was first formed in 2013 when George led an investor group to purchase the original Gurney’s Inn, located in Montauk, New York. Several phases of renovation have transformed the property into Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa.

In 2015 the adjacent property was acquired launching the Residences at Gurney’s Montauk. In 2018 the company purchased the Montauk Yacht Club and added 107 rooms and 232 Marina slips to its portfolio, and in 2019, added Gurney’s Star Island. In 2021 Gurney’s made its debut in the southwest acquiring Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona Prior to his hospitality investments, George through his company Metrovest Equities, was involved in the acquisition and redevelopment of over 2,000 apartments in mixed use projects and public/private partnerships encompassing three million square feet.

Here, he talks to us about how he built some of the hottest hotels in America.

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain

Photo Credit: Gurneys

How did the brand come to be a Hamptons hot spot? What strategies have you employed to make it so? How have you evolved from an East Coast hotspot to a bicoastal brand?

We’ve evolved a lot from our beginnings as a local Hamptons brand. By growing with our customer base and adapting to their changing preferences, while also continuing to reach new audiences for both our destinations and properties, we’ve grown from a group of boutique hotels in seasonal destinations into a growing bicoastal hospitality brand. Our dedicated network of returning guests have helped us build our brand image, and in the last few years we’ve gone from a brand that’s synonymous with summer at the beach to an overall expert in the luxury travel space. Some of our key strategies have been listening to our guests, working in close partnership with our local communities, and building a network of like-minded brand partners.

What specifically sets Gurney’s apart from other hospitality companies?

At Gurney’s Resorts we are taking a fresh approach to luxury hospitality and tapping into the evolving needs of our clientele by providing a resort experience that is both classic and contemporary. All of our properties feature impeccably designed accommodations, elevated dining offerings, and dedicated property and events teams that are fully committed to making every stay and event truly memorable for our guests. In many of our destinations, we have also been the first to offer state of the art services and facilities, along with creative amenities and bespoke programming in the wellness, entertainment and lifestyle categories. We also deeply care about our local communities and preserving our local environments. This can be seen through some of our specialty designed programming that not only gives guests a unique experience but also helps them support our mission of directly giving back. For example, our children’s programming at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina—Camp Gurney’s—is hosted in partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program and offers our youngest guests the chance to explore Montauk’s marine ecosystem, learning valuable lessons about conservation while also having summer fun. We always try to be a responsible and supportive player in our communities, and are involved in local causes, organizations, and more.

With the recent addition of a property in Scottsdale, can you share more on the Gurney’s philosophy behind expansion? What has been the major factors guiding you when deciding where to go next?

Expansion has always been one of our top priorities. When choosing a new location, we are always guided by our brand pillars and seek out properties or destinations that organically align with our ethos and signature resort experience.

George Filopoulos

Photo Credit: Gurneys

Given the recent acquisition of Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, A Gurney’s Resort & Spa, why did the brand feel it was an opportune time for the westward expansion?

We had been looking in a few specific markets since our last acquisition of Gurney’s Star Island that took place in 2018, and the Sanctuary transaction originally began almost two years ago. Our decision to move west was very asset specific. We ultimately decided on Sanctuary as the property encompassed many of the same attributes we’ve cultivated at our previous projects. Our brand has always been guided by the mission to provide world-class amenities in exclusive resort destinations, and adding the Sanctuary into our portfolio felt like a natural extension of this.

Beyond expansion, what new things that visitors can expect to see at the existing properties this year?

At Sanctuary, we will officially start a full renovation later this year which will focus on enhancements to the rooms, pools and restaurants. Our vision behind this renovation is to execute a design that is inspired by and works in harmony with the property’s surrounding environment. One of the reasons the area is so popular is its stunning natural elements, so we are considering these attributes through every part of the design process. This past high-season in Montauk, guests have enjoyed a robust calendar of partnerships and activations, along with the signature Gurney’s experiences and amenities they know and love. From outdoor fitness classes to new cocktail experiences, the properties have had a groundbreaking summer season.

Noting that Gurney’s Montauk will be unveiling a completely renovated spa, what was the motivation behind revamping this experience?

The spa has always been a part of our resort’s history, and this renovation project has been a priority for us for the last several years. We were originally inspired to embark on this endeavor as we’ve continued to evolve with our guests’ priorities as they travel. We’ve seen an increased emphasis placed on wellness amongst our clientele and realized there was a real need for bespoke offerings and state of the art facilities out east. We wanted to make sure we were providing the very best experience possible for our guests, and ensure it was one that really pulled inspiration from the resort’s unique location. Thus our plans for the renovation were born. This spa has been very positively received by our guests this summer, with many of our guests taking advantage of this new oasis to fully reset.


Photo Credit: Gurneys

What are some key things visitors to the Hamptons experienced this summer in Montauk?

This summer was one of our most successful seasons yet. A major moment out east was of course our Seawater Spa. Guests this summer were some of the first to see the revamped spa with a completely new look and feel, and the feedback so far has been that they are totally blown away by the new experience. One of the most striking features of the spa is of course our pool, which is the only ocean-fed seawater pool in North America. We’ve expanded and rebuilt the pool, adding on to its original foundations to create a more luxurious space. We’ve added full bathhouse experience to the spa offerings, including a caldarium, thermae baths, sauna and steam rooms, and a salt room. For treatments, we’ve also added a collection of indoor-outdoor suites with great views of the Atlantic Ocean. And for fitness enthusiasts, the spa space now includes state of the art cardio and weight equipment, a movement studio, and areas for activations and activities. Aside from the spa, both our properties in Montauk unveiled events, amenities, and special offerings that took place all season long. One of the most exciting of course was through our partnership. The summer the brand launched their Dioriviera pop up boutique on property. Dior took over the East Deck and created what we called the “Dior Deck,” which was a special hangout haven featuring a dedicated F&B menu and finished with Dioriviera umbrellas and lounge chairs all available for purchase on location. In addition to the pop-up, Dior also debuted a special spa activation in Seawater Spa, marking the first time that the Dior art of beauty and well-being has traveled to the Hamptons. Taking over one of the four premier indoor-outdoor treatment rooms, Dior is offered an exclusive treatment menu curated especially for gurney’s seawater spa.
Something we’ve also announced within the last year is our Gurney’s Memberships program. Consisting of Resort, Spa and All Access memberships, this program offers exclusive access to world class amenities, concierge services and spa services available at Gurney’s Montauk. Special access includes exclusive beach service to bespoke beauty treatments, and much more.

Be honest: Which property is your favorite?

All of our properties have that special Gurney’s feel but are of course unique in their own way. Our offerings at Gurney’s Montauk are what helped us build such great momentum, but the exciting growth at Gurney’s Star Island has been so fun to watch. And we are of course excited to continue to add more Gurney’s touches to Sanctuary!

Beyond expansion into new markets, how has the brand expanded its footprint in other sectors—especially wellness and culinary?

The new Seawater Spa is a major move forward in the world of wellness for our brand, and we plan to use the expertise of our new highly trained spa staff when expanding our offerings in this space across the portfolio. As wellness becomes more and more ingrained into everyday life, we are continuing to tap partners and offer amenities that make keeping a wellness routine while traveling possible, beyond allowing guests to totally reset in our world-class spa. As far as culinary goes, we’ve continued to expand our offerings and work with our food & beverage teams to create restaurant spaces that become their own culinary hot spots, meant to be enjoyed by hotel guests, visitors and locals alike.

How do you see Gurney’s continuing to grow in the next few years, what are you most excited about when it comes to the future of travel?

Something that has been really exciting to watch is the transformation of typical resort areas into more year-round destinations. We’ve now been able to curate off-season programming and activities that really showcase new sides of our destinations to our guests that they may not have previously seen. We also continue to keep our finger on the pulse of industry trends and find waves to weave these through our experiences. One thing that we believe will continue is flexibility of work life balance, and for a brand like Gurney’s with properties near so many major hubs, we continue to format our offerings to meet the needs of digital nomads, extended stay guests and new year-round residents to the areas our property’s call home.

Where will you open next? Any plans in the works?

Additional acquisitions and new openings are both things that our brand is considering as we continue to look toward expansion. But as the Gurney’s brand has built a specific look, feel, and identity, we will continue to be mindful when looking to add further properties. Our top consideration when exploring options in the future will continue to be identifying similar characteristics that have made our previous projects so successful.