He first made a name for himself in the 1980s, when he was brought
in to resurrect San Francisco's sagging Clift hotel. Back then,
Bromley admits, he was known as "a nuclear warhead," uncompromising
in his adherence to standards that would make Martha Stewart look
like the neighborhood slob. He didn't hesitate to dress down
managers if they failed to wipe a fingerprint from a window or
answer the phone within three rings.
"I can understand why there were some people who said they'd never
work with me again," Bromley admits. "But I've mellowed with age.
I've learned to let go a little. Plus, management styles are like
fashion. What worked back then wouldn't necessarily work today."
Bromley's introduction to the hospitality business came in an
unlikely place, at an unlikely age. His family ran a small hotel in
Lake Placid, New York, and when Bromley's father died, 14-year-old
Stan was forced to help out. Bromley didn't love the work but
learned a vocation, which he later pursued at hotel school in
Switzerland. He returned to the States, worked at various hotels,
did his stint at the Clift, then moved to Four Seasons in New York
and Washington, D.C., where he gained celebrity as a butler to the
rich and powerful.
As tough as he could be on his managers, he was endlessly
accommodating towards his guests. No request was out of the
question. If you needed fresh salmon flown to a distant atoll, a
Persian kitten delivered to a penthouse suite, Stan Bromley was
your go-to guy. He was cozy enough with Bill Clinton for the prez
to show up at his birthday party. He was pals with Vernon Jordan,
and a friend to Wolf Blitzer and Larry King.
Bromley made himself useful in unorthodox ways. Once, when a
high-profile business tycoon and his wife had a blowout in the D.C.
lobby, Bromley thought fast, snagging and destroying the hotel
security tape before it fell into the hands of the tabloids.