“Take chances. You never know where things will take you.” That simple mission has guided Patti K. Seay through her entire 30-plus year career in hospitality design.
Following this affirmation has taken her from Colorado to Hawaii to Dubai and now Miami, working on projects in Southeast Asia, China, India, Europe, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Mexico, and nearly everywhere in between. Along the way, Seay has helped the biggest names in hospitality create stunning properties and experiences at leading leisure destinations.
Seay nurtured an interest in design and architecture from an early age and remembers leafing through the books and magazines that her father, an accountant for homebuilders and a lumber yard, brought home from work. That interest led to high school drafting classes and an after-school job at a local A&E firm, where she had an opportunity to gain real project experience at a young age, working with architects and structural, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers on a diverse range of commercial building types.
After college, Seay was working for a small Evergreen, Colorado-based architectural firm when she noticed an intriguing job opportunity: the renowned firm WATG (then known as Wimberly, Whisenand, Allison, Tong, and Goo) was hiring project managers in Honolulu. A voice echoed inside the head of the young professional. “Take chances,” it whispered. She traded in her snow shovel for a beach towel and started what became a decade of exciting island hospitality work and attainment of her architectural license.
As she progressed in her career, Seay continued to take chances by volunteering for special projects and assignments. Doing so birthed what she considers her three great loves: Hawaii, international travel, and hospitality design. Pursuing those interests took her around the world with Hyatt International, and in 2019 Seay relocated to Florida to enter a new stage of her career in the Caribbean and Latin America region as design director for Hilton’s luxury portfolio in the region.
Today, Seay is using her experience in high-end projects to help Hilton boost its iconic luxury brands including Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and LXR Hotels & Resorts. Hilton continues to expand its luxury portfolio in the Caribbean and Latin America throughout 2022 and beyond.
“These are exciting projects in unforgettable locations that will become the backdrops for some of the most important moments in our guests’ lives,” Seay says. “The guest is always at the center of our designs and I keep them, as well as the other end users, in the forefront of my mind throughout the design process.”
Waldorf Astoria Cancun, one of her current projects opening in the fall of 2022, stretches across 100 acres of pristine coastline where the design team has created a true sanctuary. The 178 oceanfront guestrooms and suites feature outdoor terraces with plunge pools and glass-enclosed showers opening to private balconies. The property will feature unparalleled resort amenities including five bars and restaurants, an ocean view junior ballroom, multiple swimming pools, fitness center, a Waldorf Astoria- branded Spa, and comprehensive destination wedding services.
At Cancun and other properties, Seay works closely with owners, operators, and design teams to make sure they deliver the right Hilton experience. “Hilton’s mission is to spread the light and warmth of hospitality,” she says. “People come to luxury destinations to get married, celebrate anniversaries, or enjoy other notable milestones, and we are setting the stage for those special moments to happen.”
Properties must be well designed with operational efficiency in mind so the staff can deliver excellent customer service. Still, guests should enjoy the best luxury has to offer. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Seay is prioritizing hygiene and cleanability by making sure every space is beautiful while elements are durable enough to withstand frequent cleaning. She’s also opting for fewer community dining tables in favor of more intimate ‘pod’ seating.
As these projects open, Seay is finding new ways to evolve the brands. “We’re taking the storied past and essence of the Waldorf Astoria New York and expressing it in new places and in new ways,” she says. Peacock Alley, the stylish and pearlescent indoor-outdoor lounge bar at Waldorf Astoria Cancun, takes its name from the walkway in Manhattan where well-dressed socialites gathered to see and be seen.
Earlier this year, Hilton opened a conversion property now known as Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya. The resort sits on the Yucatan Peninsula and will be a hub for those looking to participate in kayaking, snorkeling, or other adventures among the mangroves and white sand beaches. The resort boasts 11 restaurants, 5 pools, and guest rooms appointed with natural materials, floor to ceiling windows, and relaxation tubs on private balconies.
LXR Hotels & Resorts is Hilton’s newest luxury brand, encompassing a collection of independent, one-of- a-kind properties located in alluring destinations across the world. In 2021, it opened locations in Santa Monica, California; Las Vegas; Seattle; Kyoto, Japan; and the African archipelago of Seychelles. This year, Hilton will be focused on growing LXR’s presence in the Middle East with an urban resort of 80 rooms and villas in Saudi Arabia.
The pandemic has been hard on hospitality, but Seay thrives in uncertainty. “My career has been defined by a willingness to show up and go when I don’t know what’s next. That attitude has put me in amazing places with exceptionally talented people where we can deliver unique and curated experiences,” she says.
The approach will take her well into the future as guests return to their favorite destinations and Hilton’s luxury brands including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and LXR continue to gain momentum in top international markets.
Tuuci congratulates Patti Seay on this well-deserved honor. We are proud to partner with Hilton brands to provide high quality, marine grade shade devices to enhance its guests’ outdoor experience. Hilton understands the value of creating a comfortable destination designed for living your best life outdoors.