An exclusive chat with Metropole Realty Advisors’ CEO and development consultant to Hawaii’s Luxury Row
Luxury Row on 2100 Kalakaua Ave. is a landmark that’s part notable real estate and development project, part 111,000-square-foot exhibition of fashion, jewelry and architecture.
Standing at this crossroads of Waikiki is Robert Siegel. The CEO of Metropole Realty Advisors Inc., known for representing and advising the world’s top luxury retailers and highest-end shopping streets, presents a gracious and thoughtful manner – much like the ethic that shines through the many luxury developments he oversees.
After a whirlwind of meetings and a night of showcasing Hawaii’s best local art, Siegel settles into a discussion about his own brand of character, and how he, a native New Yorker, came to Luxury Row.
It’s a storied career of persistence, integrity and keeping in check an ever-in-flux world through balance.
This is his tale, as he tells it:
My Mother Started A Business When I Was 10, representing luxury brands and advising them on the real estate needs for their flagship stores. And I knew about six months later what I wanted to do professionally, because I love architecture and I love the process of negotiating these very unique leases for locations that never really hit the market.
I Double-Majored In Economics And Finance, with an associate degree in accounting. I worked for two years and then started law school. I thought it was very interesting not just to understand the laws you learn in school, but to understand how it really works.
Within A Week Of My Birthday In 1979, I was licensed as a real estate broker. It was the youngest you could get a license by law, at 17 years old.
Because Of The Family Business, I Started Working With Luxury Brands. I was very fortunate that I got to sit in on meetings with the chairman of Burberry, or the chairman of Ferragamo, where they would talk about their future plans. So I effectively had years of being educated by the heads of these fashion brands on what “luxury branding” is about.
First And Foremost (It’s About) Honesty. And hard work. And everything in life being a balance. And most importantly, having everything that you do being really of substance, not just what it appears to be.
I Worked With Mr. Trump For About Two Years After College. And that was one of the reasons I went to law school. I thought it would give me an extra advantage in business … to be able to do it with real depth of knowledge and substance.
We’ve Been Advising Brands On Opening Stores In Hawaii for 25 years or more, and we know their sales volumes were among the highest in the world per foot. Rarely (is there) an opportunity to buy in Waikiki. A lot of things are only owned through leaseholds versus owning the land outright. We were contacted for the acquisition (of Luxury Row) because of our reputation – people know that we do what we say, and that we can also act very quickly in a purchase.
The Ultra-Affluent Of The World Don’t Often Find Something They Truly Desire. In Hawaii, the nature and beauty of it offers that … you come to a place that’s so beautiful, and mixed with that you can go shopping at the best stores.
There Are Other Places That Have Great Stores and are great to go buy a product. (Luxury Row) is the one where, years later, when you put on something you purchased at one of our stores, the experience you had in buying it is as significant as whatever you purchased.
We Have Space Available On The Third Floor (Of Luxury Row) that we purposely did not lease. We really want to bring a world-class restaurant there and mix it with an espresso bar.
My Greatest Accomplishment? My four children. It’s true!
We Went To Vail Last Spring, And My 2- And 3-Year-Old Skied Most Of Each Day. It was unbelievable. I think skiing is a great family activity. I’ve been a ski fanatic since I was 2 years old. I went to a boarding school where you were required to ski six days a week; the seventh day was optional.
I Love Tennis. I love reading, and I love the country.
I Had Giovanni’s Shrimp – I was told Giovanni’s is the best, and I went there and it was fantastic. I even took a picture. It’s a great contrast.
I Try To Get Here Twice A Year. I Don’t Always, But I Try To.