5 Questions for Bashar Wali

March 19, 2018
Bashar Wali

With the influx of lifestyle hotels entering the market, how does Provenance continue to innovate?
We’re always looking at new markets. For example, we’re making a big push into the Midwest with projects in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Fort Wayne, Indiana, but we’re also on the hunt for new product types like the more intimate 40-key hotels we are working on, including the Lora in Stillwater [just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota] and the Villa Royale in Palm Springs, California.

How have you shaped Portland’s hospitality industry?
I like to think we’ve helped prove the value of and potential in historic buildings of the type we’ve been fortunate to become stewards of over time. We’re a product of Portland’s creative, collaborative culture. We often bring multiple partners in to work on any given project, and we’ve helped propel the careers of the hospitality rock stars and design wizards we’ve employed over the years.

What is your approach to design? 
We’re in the theater business. You can spend a fortune on your theater, but if you’re producing a dud of a show, no one will come. Write a great story, build a great set, hire great actors, and you’ll have a hit. We start with branding to identify our story. Then, we bring in genius set designers to make sure the set is inspired and the theater itself is comfortable, welcoming, and well crafted. Interior design is a key, integral part of the process, and when their efforts are aligned with the story, the result is magic.

How do you stay on top of hotel trends?
If I’m in a city for three nights, I’m staying at three hotels and checking out three more. Ours is a creative, boundary-pushing industry at heart, even if it is at times slow to adapt. I also constantly observe restaurant and retail design and great residential spaces.

Along with refreshing a few Provenance properties, what’s next for you?
We’re hard at work on an adaptive reuse project that will join two historic buildings and transform them into Woodlark, a lush, sophisticated hotel in the heart of downtown Portland.

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