A thirty year veteran of the hospitality industry and one of the nation’s most well-respected businesswomen, Niki Leondakis, has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of Equinox Fitness.
Leondakis resigned from her position as CEO of Two Roads Hospitality, which included the Thompson Hotel chain in its portfolio, to take on the new position with Equinox, which is planning to expand into the hotel business.
Known primarily as a fitness company with clubs throughout the nation, Equinox also has well-known brands like SoulCycle, Blink Fitness and Pure Yoga in its portfolio of companies. Leondakis’ hiring as CEO was a strategic move on Equinox’s part, primarily since the company plans to expend into the hospitality sector and open its first Equinox Hotel in 2019.
Leondakis knows how to build hotels and hotel chains.
Leondakis has more than 30 years of hospitality experience with brands that include The Ritz-Carlton, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants— which she grew from 15 to more than 50 hotels— and Commune Hotels, which she took over as CEO in 2012.
Commune merged with Destination Hotels & Resorts in January 2016, eventually becoming Two Roads Hospitality in September 2016, where, Leondakis served as CEO of hotels and resorts, overseeing all of its 95 luxury and lifestyle hotels.
In a press release, Leondakis said she was “thrilled to be joining Equinox” and “as a hospitality industry veteran, I am passionately committed to bringing the best possible experience to guests. This will be central to my role at Equinox, especially as the company diversifies its branded offerings to its members.”
While Equinox’s public announcement of Leondakis’ arrival didn’t specifically say she would oversee the growth and development of Equinox Hotels, it seems likely, given her extensive boutique hospitality, lifestyle, and food-and-beverage experience, that she will play a critical role in developing the brand, which plans to debut its first hotel in New York City by 2019.
Leondakis grew up in the restaurant business in Western Massachusetts. She often credits her grandparents’ restaurant— Charlie’s Diner, as an early lesson in hospitality and her passion for food and shares with audiences that hospitality is in her DNA as a Greek.
“I had family members in the restaurant business and I grew up on the fringe of it. So when I got to the University of Massachusetts, I ended up studying hotel and restaurant management. Charlie’s Diner is still there, and it’s a real period piece,” she said in an interview recently, referring to her family diner.