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An Interview with the General Manager: Karl Friedrich of the River Inn of Harbor Town

February 1, 2008 By:Editorial AdvisoryBoard

In October 2007, River Inn of Harbor Town opened its doors, offering Memphis visitors an entirely new lodging experience. Situated close to the Mighty Mississippi River in Downtown's Harbor Town neighborhood, the River Inn is a small boutique hotel where the history of the Old South meets the charm of classic Europe.

Karl FriedrichFive Star Alliance: How did you come to be General Manager of the River Inn at Harbor Town?

Karl W. Friedrich: Having managed luxury hotels in Europe, Caribbean and Pawleys Island, South Carolina for the past 35 years, the owners and the President of the River Inn Management Company thought I was the perfect fit for this unique and beautiful Boutique Hotel.

Five Star Alliance: Tell us what you feel is the most distinctive or unique feature of your hotel? What best describes the personality of the hotel?

Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn at Harbor Town's architecture is influenced by European small luxury hotel concept with a touch of New Orleans look, the coziness and warm feeling of the lobby, small libraries on each floor, bedrooms/suites which open and one can sit in front and admire the great view of the Mississippi River. The Currents Fine Dining Restaurant with an elegant but warm decor and superb epicurean food served by a most accommodating and attentive Staff. In addition one can choose to go to TUGS, a bistro style casual restaurant with great food and draft beer.

Five Star Alliance: Can you share the names of any famous guests who have stayed in the hotel, or perhaps regulars that return on a periodic basis?

Karl W. Friedrich: We are new, nor do we tell!

Five Star Alliance: Which do you consider to be the best rooms in the house? Not just the suites, but also any particular standard rooms that have great views or unusual advantages? If you were checking into a standard room at the hotel, which one would you request?

Karl W. Friedrich: Room 306 is one of our superior corner rooms with a typical New Orleans wrought iron balcony rail and double window, overlooking the Mississippi.

Five Star Alliance: What is the best thing about the hotel's location? What is your favorite thing to do in the surrounding area?

Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel is located 5 minutes from down town Memphis with all its attraction; Beal Street, FedEx Forum, Auto Zone Ball Park, River Park Museum, St. Jude Hospital, The Trolley Area, and the famous Rendezvous BBQ Restaurant. The Inn is across the road from the River Park with 3 miles of trail to walk or jog along the Mississippi river.

Five Star Alliance: Can you mention any interesting miscellaneous trivia regarding the hotel? Perhaps a bit of history? Any special events that have taken place on property?

Karl W. Friedrich: The Hotel features hardwood floors brought in from a West Virginia Textile Mill dating back to 1850, also two of the fire place mantel pieces have been obtained in New Orleans and are antique from the 1850's.

Five Star Alliance: If you were considering staying at the hotel as a guest, what would you want to know about the hotel before checking in?

Karl W. Friedrich: That it is a true boutique hotel with the personalized service and atmosphere one expects at a small luxury Inn.

Five Star Alliance: What is your definition of luxury?

Karl W. Friedrich: Something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort. Something desirable but expensive, something very pleasant but not really needed in life.

Five Star Alliance: Who are your customers and where do they come from?

Karl W. Friedrich: Our patrons are either visitors for pleasure and sightseeing from around the world and the USA. We also cater to corporate guest and small executive retreats.

Five Star Alliance: What is the hardest part about being General Manager? If you could change one thing about the hotel, what would that be?

Karl W. Friedrich: I would add a spa (this is already in the planning stage) to enhance the service and pleasure of our patrons.

Five Star Alliance: Other than your own, can you share your choices of two or three of what you consider to be the greatest hotels in the world? And why you think they are special?

Karl W. Friedrich: The Fearrington House in Pittsboro, NC – Great atmosphere and well managed. The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Austin, TX – Great Hotel and also well managed. Twin Farms, VT – a wonderful place to get away and get spoiled.

Five Star Alliance: Anything else you would like our readers to know about your property?

Karl W. Friedrich: The River Inn is a place you will remember for making you feel welcome and the superb service, delicious food and well appointed rooms/suites with luxury amenities.

More Information About Karl Friedrich:

Karl brings to River Inn more than 30 years of experience in the management of full service hotels. Most recently, he was general manager of Litchfield Plantation, a small luxury hotel in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. During Karl’s eight years at Litchfield, he established a European sales and marketing strategy, which created a diverse mix of international guests, accounting for 20 percent of the total yearly occupancy.

Karl is the former president of International Hospitality Management, Inc., a management and consulting firm specializing in luxury Jamaican resorts. Additionally, he has managed Four-Star and Five-Star hotels throughout the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Antigua, St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

An Austrian, Karl holds a degree in business administration. He later attended hotel management school in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.

In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, sailing, and of course, travel. He and his wife, Belinda, a licensed professional counselor, have two grown sons.

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