8 Questions With… Jon Makhmaltchi, Founder of J.MAK Hospitality

Rumor has it, his first words were “room service.”  Seems entirely appropriate for someone in the hospitality industry known for their commitment to excellent service.  Throughout his 25-year career, our friend and partner, Jon Makhmaltchi, aka JMAK, has been a part of nearly every aspect of the hospitality business, from sales and management to hotel openings, even including a stint at the front desk.  He’s known for lightning-fast email responses, and for his catchphrases “HOORAY!!!”, “OMG!!!” and “LUVYA!!” (AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article has been edited to remove multiple exclamation points.)

CIRE: Hello JMAK!  Or do you prefer Jon?  We’ve always called you JMAK…

JMAK:  Jon, JMAK, Jon Makhmaltchi, call me anything, just don’t call me! I prefer email. 😊 Oh and many ask how to say my name and I always say “Jon or J.MAK” then they say no, your last name, well that’s why its JMAK! MAK.MAL.CHEE.  See, it’s simple! My last name means velvet weaver in Farsi.  My dad is from Teheran, and it seems many years ago our ancestors made and sold Persian rugs made of velvet! I learned that “chi” means “to sell” on an American Airlines flight from LAX to LHR by a Persian Monk sitting next to me in business class!

CIRE: Love that bit of history/background on your name!  But we’ll keep calling you JMAK (but emailing when we need something haha!).  Tell our readers a little about you, your company…  Take it away!

JMAK:  I founded J.MAK Hospitality 10 years ago. We represent boutique luxury hotels, DMCs, yachts, jets and villa collections around the world. I was born and raised in Manhattan, and we have team members in New York City, Miami, Raleigh and in Rhinebeck in the Hudson Valley, where I now live.  Also, we’ll soon be adding someone on the West Coast where I lived for 17 years. We serve as a broker between the advisor and the hotelier/supplier.  Our job is to MAKe people happy and get them quick and efficient answers.

CIRE: Happy 10th anniversary!  That’s fantastic!  How did you get started in the travel and hospitality business in the first place?

JMAK:  My cousin was an interior designer for hotels, I went on sales calls with her and met (veteran hotelier) Robert Lowe at the Park Hyatt San Francisco, and he hired me shortly after. I worked at properties on the west coast for a decade – including two we work with today, Cavallo Point and Carneros Resort – before becoming VP of Sales at SLH, then starting J.MAK.

Cavallo Point and Carneros Resort

JMak with Jeff & Carrie from the team

CIRE:  What sets J.MAK apart from other representation firms?

JMAK:  Service, service, service, and we have the fastest response in the industry, hands down. We make sure our advisors and their clients are taken care of, that’s why we’re here, and that’s why we have such a loyal following. Plus, we are the most fun. We only work with the most professional and fun personalities in hospitality. That’s our motto, Hospitality Personality.

CIRE: Hospitality Personality!  Love it!  And you certainly embody that motto, JMAK.  Have you always been so outgoing?

JMAK:  I am a homebody, and an introvert! Hard to believe but true! My travels to such incredible places over the course of my career have helped me to make my homes so comfortable that I don’t want to leave! In all seriousness, it’s all true and I bring a little piece of each hotel home.  Whether it be a match holder for my fireplace from Post Ranch Inn or an ashtray from J.K. Place Capri, there is a little piece of J.MAK Hospitality everywhere.

CIRE: We never would have guessed that you’re a homebody!  Well, when you’re not working or hanging at home, where do you like to travel?

JMAK:  So many choices, I do love Switzerland! I’m a mountain and lakes guy so I love the natural beauty, and it’s so clean and efficient. I went for years with my family as a kid, often to ski, and we now work with four amazing (and eco-friendly) hotels that are part of the Tschuggen Collection.  The Tschuggen Express is a private mountain railway in Arosa. Enjoy access to pistes and hiking trails from your own private mountain railway! J.MAK loves a train!!!

CIRE:  Switzerland is absolutely gorgeous!  As are the Tschuggen Collecton hotels.  Any other new additions to the J.MAK portfolio in the near future?

JMAK:  Yes, J.K. Place Milan is coming soon! Also, AlmaLusa Comporta is opening in November, and the Saint James Paris is opening five villa suites this winter, each with private kitchens and gardens!  Some extra buzz is AlmaLusa will also open a second hotel in Lisbon next year and the Saint James/Relais Christine Paris family have four new hotels coming in Paris, two in December and two more next summer! Sacré bleu!!!

CIRE:  Since you’re celebrating 10 years this year, do you have a favorite cocktail that we can toast with?

JMAK:  Pimm’s Cup is my favorite at Troutbeck in the Hudson Valley, you must come try it with me!

CIRE: You’ve got a deal, JMAK!  A pitcher of Pimm’s Cups on us next time we see you!

CIRE Travel is a full-service travel agency headquartered in New York, NY.  Our expert team supports clients across the country and around the world.


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