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'Hotelier of the Year' Finds Home in Memphis

The following article is featured in the 2017 Spring Issue of Memphis Crossroads MagazineClick here to read more from this issue. 

‘Hotelier of the Year’ Finds Home in Memphis
Memphis has plenty of boosters, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one more enthusiastic than Doug Browne. 
CO-Doug-Browne-14.jpgFirst of all, he’s in a great position to be an advocate of the city as president of the Peabody Hotel Group, a subsidiary of Belz Enterprises. Browne has been running the South’s Grand Hotel for the 14 years he’s been in the city and he’s clearly good at it. Last year, he received the “Hotelier of the Year” award by the Historic Hotels of America, a tribute to his love for and dedication to The Peabody.
It also makes it possible for him to be thoroughly involved in the community. “I’m on a bunch of boards around the city,” he said, “and our managers are required to be on different boards. I try to set the example on that. One of the great things about the Belz family is they’ve allowed us to be extremely involved in the community. We love Memphis and we love being a part of it.”
Browne has served on the boards of the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel & Lodging Association, Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality & Resort Management, the University of Memphis Fogelman College Business & Economics, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Historic Hotels of America, Tennessee Hospitality Association, the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau (which honored him with a Spirit of Memphis award) and the Greater Memphis Chamber.
One of the organizations Browne has been heavily involved in is the Memphis in May International Festival. He’s been on the board most of the time he has been in Memphis and in 2015 he was named chairman of the board, serving during 2016 when Canada was the honored country. 
James L. Holt, president & CEO of Memphis in May, praised Browne’s contributions. “He’s very active and fabulous to work with,” Holt said. “It requires a lot of time and attention but he’s committed and epitomizes what a great board leader should be. He traveled with us to Canada and Washington for meetings at the Canadian embassy. He’s a great advocate for our organization and the city.”
Browne is also on the Board of Directors and the Chairman’s Circle of the Chamber and is encouraged by the direction the organization is taking. “The Chamber is doing great work,” he said. “Some things they have had to take on are not popular, but all the same in the long run are good for Memphis, for the community and to make Memphis financially sound was very important for the long haul.”
Holt noted that Browne “has spent his career moving around, but now has made Memphis his home.”
“I was born in California but raised in the Caribbean islands,” Browne said. “My father was in the military and I grew up on Air Force bases. After that, they went into the hotel business.” As a result, he lived in beautiful hotels, like the Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda and Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico. “It was a really tough childhood,” he joked, “but it was in my blood.”
In high school, he thought about becoming a veterinarian but wasn’t sure he could make it. “But I thought I was good at the hotel business, so I worked for different companies and came up through the ranks.”
He worked in Amsterdam, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and different places in Europe and all over the United States. He met Marty Belz years before coming here and one of his mentors was Alan Villaverde, general manager at The Peabody Orlando. 
“So it was a no-brainer that this would be my next step,” Browne said. “I was working as regional director for Fiesta Americana Hotels in Mexico, over 14 hotels. And then the Belz family made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I’ve loved it ever since.”
So where does he go from here? 
Now he is looking ahead with Peabody Hotels and Resorts, a new organization in the process of acquiring properties around the country where, he said, “we would brand hotels as Peabody and manage them to ensure that we hold the highest standards of service excellence.” 
He has been working with Craig Smith who is in charge of brand development and marketing and sales at the hotel.
“The Peabody in Memphis will continue to raise the bar in the city of Memphis,” Browne said. “While it’s a historical hotel, we like to stay on the cutting edge of technology and food and beverage, setting the standard in the city while spreading our wings around the country.”
To learn more about the Peabody Memphis, visit

Story: Jon W. Sparks
Photos: Troy Glasgow
Posted: 5/19/2017 2:16:44 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: MemphisCrossroads, PeabodyHotel

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (