MAN IN CHARGE
Paul Leone, CEO of The Breakers Palm Beach, leads the hotel through a major renovation—harmoniously blending the old and new.
When their sons started going off to college, Paul Leone and his wife, Kathy, made a pact that they would not let a month go by without seeing each of them. That has meant, at times, quick jaunts to Chapel Hill, N.C., where their three out of four sons—Ben, Griffin and Jake—have attended the University of North Carolina. These are not easy excursions for Leone, the 35-year employee and CEO of The Breakers Palm Beach, the island’s posh 140-acre, 538-room resort that’s owned by the Kenan family, heirs to the resort’s founder, Henry Flagler.
After all, it’s a job that tends to keep a guy busy. But, Leone is the ultimate family man, and that involves more than his own close-knit brood. He exudes a similar caring and concern to his 2,200 employees, or, as he calls them, teammates.
“At The Breakers, we strive to find a balance between true family-style caring and a Fortune 500 level of discipline,” he explains. “We’re not afraid to use the words love and kindness around here.”
The property has been regularly upgraded over the years, with ownership and management performing what Leone calls a “balancing act” to keep up with modern standards while preserving the hotel’s historic integrity. The most recent renovations include a $9 million refresh of 86 guest rooms and four guest suites; a $4 million redesign of the coffee/gift shop, News & Gourmet; and $2.5 million addition of a banquet kitchen facility and guest restrooms to facilitate increased demand for events on the Front Lawn.
“From the beginning of the massive capital improvement plan, it’s been about preserving and protecting the many aspects of the original hotel,” Leone explains. “One of my favorites was the creation of the HMF lobby bar and restaurant located in the historic Florentine Room/Celebrity Isle space off the north loggia. The original historic ceilings, walls and chandeliers are in the pristine condition, but, thanks to hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, they are successfully complemented with new modern decor.”
Photography by: Eric Striffler