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The Hoteliers | Jayson Seidman and Paris Neill

“I always make this common joke where I think if I had just turned left instead of right, I'd be a lot richer,” says Jayson Seidman. “But instead I took an alternate route where I wanted to only go up for properties that evoked an emotion and that I felt like had either a cool story or just really felt good.” Seidman, along with wife and partner Paris Neill, are the creative and business force behind a growing list of hotels, from New Orleans to San Antonio, that are as much places to be at as they are places to stay at. With properties like Thunderbird Marfa and The Drifter, Seidman and Neill have created destinations that walk the line between retro (without being kitsch) and modern (without being cold), and that offer a relaxed, local charm that invites guests to eat, drink, linger, and yes, maybe stay the night too. “For me it's like, would I wanna hang out there?” Seidman explains.  

Seidman was born in Mobile, raised in Houston, and went to school in New Orleans, but banking took him to New York, along with a number of international cities, before he ultimately decided to return to NOLA. Neill, on the other hand, was looking to get out. Growing up in a “one red light” town an hour north of the city, Neill left for Austin after college graduation and was in the midst of a move to New York when the two met at The Delachaise, a wine bar in the Touro neighborhood. For Seidman, crossing paths with Neill wasn’t just the improbable continuation of a family tradition (both his parents and grandparents met in New Orleans) it would also connect them both to one of New Orleans’ most beloved properties: The Columns

When Seidman first landed back in New Orleans he was approached about his interest in purchasing a “pretty cool” old motel, which became his first property, The Drifter. Built in 1956, The Drifter’s “modernized nostalgia,” as its website puts it, is found in touches like neon signage and a mid-century inspired cafe. That led him to acquire a former 19th century orphanage in the Lower Garden district, now the art nouveau flavored Hotel Saint Vincent, and later The Frenchman, a music infused boutique hotel that dates back to 1860. Seidman describes his process of reimagining these historic, yet often neglected, properties as “subtraction over addition.” That was certainly the case with The Columns, he says, the iconic St. Charles Avenue residence-turned-hotel that Seidman purchased after a tip from Neill’s brother (who also introduced them). “I think the trick in the whole exercise, and a lot of people have more of a difficult time doing this than I think I do, is [knowing] when to stop peeling back the layers,” Seidman observes.

“So many people loved The Columns for what it was,” says Neill. The local favorite had hosted generations of guests, but when the couple took ownership The Columns had a “fanciest dive bar in America kind of thing,” according to Seidman. Nevertheless, expectations ran high for the renovation. “Probably one of the most challenging aspects of the project was, you know, not messing it up,” says Seidman. He started where he always does, on the outside, replacing the stamped concrete walkway with brick and “went gangbusters” on the landscaping. From there he converted an underused ballroom into an inviting common space and then tackled the guest rooms one-by-one, allowing their individual character to remain while updating the bathrooms in what Seidman calls “playing that high-low game.” The result is a luxurious update that plays off the property’s rich history.   

With the exception of the birth of their first child, the next big project on the horizon for Seidman and Neill is an offshoot of The Columns in the French Quarter, the details of which Seidman is keeping close to his chest, and the playfully named Hotel Ranch Motel in San Antonio, which he calls “such a cool city.” And while their success could obviously lead Seidman and Neill anywhere in the country, it’s clear that they’ve chosen to root the business, and their family, in the South. When asked why, Seidman responded, “I've always loved the melting pot vibe [of New Orleans]. Similar to what I've always appreciated about places like Houston, which I also view as a very diverse, multicultural, melting pot of sorts. And I like cities that have an appreciation for architecture and art.”

Jayson and Paris’s New Orleans Picks

- Lunch at Lilette  
- Drinks at Bacchanal Wine
- Dinner at N7, Mosquito Supper Club, Marjie’s Grill, or Clancy’s Restaurant
- Cocktails at The Columns and Hotel Saint Vincent (“not promoting, just being honest”)

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