Georgetown Appoints Gray Shealy to Lead the New Graduate Program in Hospitality Management

Gray Shealy, Executive Director of Georgetown’s Hospitality Management master’s program

The Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies recently appointed Starwood Hotels executive Gray Shealy to serve as Executive Director for the new Master’s in Hospitality Management program. His global vision and hands-on leadership will play a pivotal role in the experience of this fall’s inaugural class.

“I envision Georgetown’s Hospitality Management program as a platform for innovation in the industry,” said Shealy. “Washington, DC is undoubtedly the epicenter of the global hospitality business. 

By partnering with executives from the world’s largest hotel chains as well as international hospitality trusts and associations, transportation and tourism leaders, and prominent consulting firms, we will give our students insider knowledge as well as mentors who are able to guide them on their path to leadership.”

Redefining Expectations

Shealy hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. “Cordial hospitality is a cultural expectation in the South,” explained Shealy, who discovered a love for travel at a young age, but never forgot his roots. Growing up, he became “fascinated with the interface between a traveler and a hotel” including how service and design are integrated within the guest experience.

Shealy most recently served as the Global Design Director for W Hotels, setting the standard for design innovation while overseeing the evolution of the brand as it becomes a global powerhouse. Previously, he was Director of Design for Le Méridien, leading that brand’s worldwide relaunch in a role that prepared him for his international challenges at W Hotels.

“At Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide [the parent company of W Hotels and Le Méridien], I was charged with designing a holistic guest experience that would redefine the expectations of an ever-sophisticated customer base. My endeavors were focused on how branding, design strategy and key programming can be translated into everything from industry-focused events to award-winning, flagship hotels.”

The Balance of Global and Local

An avid traveler, he has visited 52 countries on five continents. “I am always seeking out new trends and new experiences – not only from hotels but from all components of culture: architecture, fashion, cuisine and more,” said Shealy. “I believe that hospitality management plays an important role in framing the way in which travelers see other parts of the world.”

The Georgetown SCS Hospitality Management program will discuss the intersection between global and local influences. “Graduates will not only be focused on U.S. hospitality standards; they will be well-versed in customer expectations in the emerging markets of the world,” explained Shealy. In fact, Georgetown students may opt to travel overseas as part of the applied curriculum.

A Tested Visionary

A frequent speaker and published author, Shealy was named a “Wave of the Future” Honoree by Hospitality Design magazine in 2011. This award is given annually to eight design professionals “young enough to be considered visionary, but tested enough to be proven accomplished.”

A budding hotelier from the onset, he earned his Master of Architecture from Yale University, with a research concentration in tourism, urban transportation planning and hotel design. He also received a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Clemson University, for which he submitted his thesis, “Cultural Sustainability in Caribbean Resort Architecture.” While at Clemson, he won numerous awards, studied in Italy and was ultimately named valedictorian.

Shealy relaxes in the E Wow Suite’s hanging chair at W New York-Times Square

Shealy is looking forward to bringing his field experience into the realm of academics. “In the creation of hotels, education and training are central to the balance between strategic planning and careful execution. I was fortunate to collaborate with the wide spectrum of roles within hotel management – from developers to general managers to corporate presidents to housekeepers – in designing and directing the platform on which hospitality unfolds. The Georgetown program will be an inclusive community for all the diverse players in hospitality.”

RSVP for an open house with Gray Shealy on March 11, 2014.