Tribute: Kim Watzman and Brian Reichelt
February 09 2018

Tribute: Kim Watzman and Brian Reichelt

Los Angeles
Last week, The Standard Family suffered a tragic loss with the news of a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of our two dear friends and colleagues, Kim Watzman and Brian Reichelt.

The GM of The Standard, Hollywood and the LA Regional Director of Finance respectively, Kim and Brian were beloved pillars of The Standard's world. Brian got his start at The Standard Spa, Miami Beach in 2011 before making the move to LA, while Kim began at The Standard, Downtown LA in 2007 before taking the helm at The Standard, Hollywood two years ago. They will be deeply missed by so many throughout our community and beyond who knew and loved them. 

We would also like to acknowledge the loss of our long-time partner and friend, Pepe Tena, of the Ferrado Group. Pepe was an avid supporter of The Standard and a friend to many of us. 

In the aftermath of this devastating loss, The Standard Family has begun doing what it does best—coming together and taking care of others. Kim and Brian helped make The Standard’s world what it is, and we’d like to take a moment to share some remembrances from those who knew them best. It is the far-from-standard personalities, as seen by example in Brian, Kim, and those whom they touched, who make our world what it isfor our guests and each other.  

The Standard
The Standard
Jon Disatapundhu (Jon D), Director of Guest Experience, The Standard, Hollywood

“There’s just something so special about the culture of The Standard, Hollywood,” Kim Watzman used to say. No one embodied this culture and its magic quite like Kim.

Kim was a humble and fearless leader. She was inclusive to all people. Every day she would greet our staff by name and ask them how they were. She was liked by everyone: executives, managers, line cooks, housekeepers, designers. She was kind and understanding. Whether you were bogged down by something at work or at home, Kim had a way of making you feel like things would be OK. She wasn’t just the matriarch of our family—she was also our sister.

Everyone had their favorite of Kim’s stories and quotes, many of which cannot be repeated here, but gurl, was she colorful! She had a simple philosophy: “Hire good people and have them take care of our guests,” she would say. She gave people opportunity and then got out of the way.

That is what we all want from our leaders: the chance to give new ideas a shot. There was no fear of failure, because Kim always had our backs.  

I wish for everyone to be so lucky as to have a leader like Kim. She was convinced that by socializing with each other, we became a better, more productive team. Recently, she said that working with us was her greatest joy outside of her family. It is my fervent wish for people to have the opportunity to have a great boss at least once in their lives. I have been fortunate to have had one over the last two years.

Kim, you were the “something-special” about the culture of The Standard, Hollywood. We can only hope to follow your example and continue the celebration of life that you so graciously breathed into ours. 


Edward Farwick, VP of Sales
Kim was adventurous—she loved trying something new—sometimes an act that others would find scary. She loved to travel and do things that I would never…

Kim was frank—it might not be pretty, but she would tell you straight.

Kim was persistent, even when the odds were stacked against her, and she worked tirelessly until the goal was achieved.

Reliable + trustworthy + dependable = Kim in one sentence

Kim was unassuming. She was awesome but did not go around bragging about it. In fact, she might not even have known that she was so awesome.

Kim was a great leader, but at times, unassuming about her skill.

Kim proved herself to be adaptable. It wasn't easy, but she learned how to cope with the big change of becoming a GM.

Kim was loved and will be missed. I am happy I was one of the lucky ones to have worked with her for a little over 10 years. 

***

Brian was funny, strange, witty, annoying at times, but overall a super guy. His teams and many others loved him and loved working with him. Devoted and dedicated. We did quite a few hikes together when we both moved to LA, and he would always tell me about all of his crazy and amazing travel. He loved life and his American Airlines Plat Exec status. 


The Standard
The Standard
Darryl Gibson, Director of Culture, The Standard Spa, Miami Beach
I remember when Kim moved into the GM role at The Standard, Hollywood, after her stint at DTLA.  Her enthusiasm was infectious, and her warm personality and open-heart fit in right away. It would be nearly two years later that I would see her again in Miami, enjoying the benefits of Lord Jones and the most magical sunset on the edge of Biscayne Bay. She shared how much she loved the hotel and what an amazing team she felt like she had there. My heart is heavy thinking of the loss that this means for all of us, but especially for her family and the team at The Standard, Hollywood, having lost such a loving and compassionate leader.

Evan Thomas, Director of Rooms, The Standard, Downtown LA
We lost some truly amazing people last week. Not only did we lose our friends, but we lost family members that were the embodiments of the brand we love so much. This company encourages us to be different, to challenge the norm, to take care of everyone around them and be yourself at any cost. Kim & Brian were all of those things and more.

My introduction to The Standard began in my first interview with Kim. When I got home that day, my girlfriend asked me all about it. I told her how odd, unconventional, and honest my conversation was with this lady who would become my mentor, and a friend who attended my wedding. During this so-called interview, I sat across from the most unique person—someone who was so different…so cool…so honest.  Our entire conversation had two themes: inappropriate stories of mutual friends and how unbelievably uncomfortable it was for her that I was wearing a suit and tie. Ever since that day, I would call her a mentor and never dare to wear a tie in her presence. If I can do two things half as well as she did, I will call my time here a success. She taught me, by example, to always care for every member of your team and when the meaningless bullshit comes up, politely say “ok…I’m gonna go now,” and get the hell outta there.

Brian and those sexy tucked in polo shirts recently came into my life.  How does this guy…a finance guy of all people connect with so many people around him? I mean, aren’t they supposed to be the boring ones in the building? Brian challenged me to question everything…he was fearless in his push for thinking outside the box…and personally brought so much joy into the building. This week, I heard from many that he would sit with them at lunch if he saw they were sitting alone or looked a little down. His unique sense of humor brought so much laughter to his team and the building.  I will truly miss the hours chatting about his next travel adventure, his off-the-wall ideas for the hotel, or someone who happened to be on his shit-list that week. I will miss those chats, and all I want right now is for him to storm into my office, overhand throw some financial report at my desk, and make me fall to the floor in laughter.

These two were some of the most adventurous, well-traveled, unique, and fun people I will ever know.  They passed doing something they love, and we can all learn to live every moment in happiness, wherever in the world you might be heading to next.  This is merely a sliver of how remarkable and how missed our friends will be. It was beyond difficult to put into words how much they have impacted all of us.

Daniela Figuerola, Director of Revenue Management
Both Kim & Brian were special to me in different ways…

Kim and I started working at The Standard, Hollywood around the same time. She was humble about her skills, and always eager to learn more, which was something I always admired about her. As I got to know her better, not only did I love her sense of humor and passion, but I learned how deeply she cared about the hotel, and most importantly, about her team. She always went the extra mile for them and thought about how to make work better and more enjoyable.  

Brian was my mentor and cheerleader—I learned so much from him and could always count on him to be in my corner! He would tell you the truth (whether you wanted to hear it or not). We became close on our hour-long walks after work and our many Carmela ice cream runs. We’d talk about anything and everything during those walks. Soon, we created a tradition of going on a hike every time I came to town, and we built a small tribe—it was always Brian and his girls! We made a lot of memories and shared many special moments that I will hold on to deeply. Brian was a true friend, and I will always miss his kindness, his humor, his wisdom, and his funny stories about his world travels. 

The Standard
The Standard
Amy Layman, Director of Food and Beverage, The Standard, Downtown LA
Kim Watzman was one of the kindest, most wonderfully weird, generous, and beautiful souls. She was like a sister to me from the time we first met 11 years ago. Kim had a very strong moral compass and you knew without a doubt she was 100% authentic. She inspired me and made me strive to be a better person. Kim had a way about her that made all things seem possible. She always took me along for the ride and I happily accepted because I knew that it would be a unique and fun adventure.

Whether we were going to Pink Floyd concerts, nursing a hangover of epic proportions, working 14 hour days, or going on some obscure outing the shenanigans, the laughs and memories we shared over the years are precious and will be in my heart for the rest of my life. I will never forget what a kind, genuine and fearless woman she was and I will do my best to follow in her footsteps. She was truly one-of-a-kind and left this world better than she found it. She will forever have a profound impact in my life and everyone she touched and I will never know another one like her. It was an honor to be her friend.

The quote she has in her office speaks volumes. “ We must indeed all hang together or ,most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”                                                                                                                                                                              
There’s so much more, but I cannot seem to find the words.
 
Amanda Hale, Director of Marketing, The Standard, Downtown LA
Brian was one of the most traveled people I have ever known. I would joke around saying, “So where are we off to next?” knowing he would have at least one major trip coming up. He really believed the saying that the only thing you can buy that will make you richer is travel. 

Brian loved to joke around in the office, he would pass by with an eye roll and/or smirk. He didn’t take things too seriously and really loved interacting with the people around him. When he spoke about the things he loved he would light up and smile with such authenticity. He was a genuine and kind person to everyone he encountered. At the same time, his sarcasm and quick wit kept everyone on their toes.

Brian loved children and had a big family full or nieces and nephews. He visited them a lot and it brought him great happiness. He was very family-oriented and talked a lot about his parents. Recently, we were talking about Ireland and he was giving me all his tips for my upcoming trip. He said he had taken his folks to Ireland for his 51st birthday. I pointed out, "51st? That’s a big celebratory year?” He kept on without skipping a beat and said his parents had always wanted to go, so he took them. That’s just the way Brian lived, every year was an important one. He lived his life fully and thoughtfully.

Chris Biondo, Director of Distribution and Product Development

My first memory of Kim is when she called to set up an interview for the job I would ultimately take at The Standard, Downtown LA. I was driving across the country from Rhode Island and in typical Kim fashion she thought about it for a few seconds longer than you expected, and said “Oh wow, yea I guess we can wait a few days to meet.” From there, the rest was history.

Kim was amazing in so many ways. She had this presence that made you feel at ease. No matter how crazy the day, week, or month, she was always there for you. We had countless decompression phone sessions over the years, her with a bottle of red wine and frozen pizza at the ready. 

Not only was she a great mentor, she taught me the things do you don’t learn in hotel school (which will remain our secret). Kim was so excited to be where she was after 11 years at The Standard. I had a new title for her “Senior GM Brand, Standard Hotels” as she had been the longest running employee that was a GM. Kim will always be in the back of my mind, and I will think "What would Kim do?", and keep her amazing, crazy, innovative, driven spirit alive in what I do.


The Standard
The Standard
Jenni Boelkens, LA Regional Director of Design
Some may think that running a marathon is a big endeavor that requires some sincere planning. One random day in 2008, Kim stopped by my office and it came up that I’d been training for the Chicago Marathon. She asked a few questions about it, but didn’t seem very interested and then disappeared in her usual way. Within an hour, she was back. Kim had signed up for the marathon and wanted to know if we could coordinate our flights and hotel stay right then. She was curious, mischievous to a fault, and made decisions on how to live life by what felt right, and it took her on adventures around the world. I’ll always admire and remember Kim for her impulsive nature. As for that marathon, we both completed the race, but she beat my time! 


Melissa Volpert, Director of Sales & Marketing, The Standard, Hollywood
Kim was an exceptional person. She was curious, tenacious, rebellious, with a passion to know. Her thoughtfulness and generosity were as epic as was her wanderlust. She cared deeply for her family, friends and colleagues and never did anything halfway—it was all or nothing. She couldn’t tell a lie if her life depended on it and she had a bullshit detector that was always spot on. She had a talent for bringing out the best in people and for making it all seem so effortless.

Kim blossomed during her time in Hollywood and enthusiastically embraced the hotel’s eccentricities and its sense of family. She found her home and we found a kindred spirit and a fearless leader. We’ll miss her desperately and will honor her memory as we protect and nurture the culture that she loved so much.

Brian was a respected colleague. Whip-smart with a wicked sense of humor, he was anything but your typical numbers guy. He had a lust for life and could be a very naughty boy….