In 2016, Howard alumni Damon Lawrence and Marcus Carey launched their forward-thinking idea of a "Black-owned boutique hotel management company” called Homage Hospitality Group. Fast forward to just last week when they opened the doors of their first property called "The Moor" in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The inspiration behind the homage name comes from the desire of both Lawrence and Carey to pay homage to the beauty and diversity of African and African American culture, an influence that they both felt extremely rare if not absent from design within the hospitality industry.
Lawrence has taken his degree in legal communications and applied it to an extensive business and hospitality career. His work and management of some of the most recognizable hospitality brands, including: The Ritz Carlton, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and Dusit International fueled his desire to shine a light on Black culture and its historical significance being represented within sought after tourist destinations. "Black culture leads American culture and American culture leads global culture, so (w)] think it’s time a hotel property reflected the best of Black culture,” Lawrence shared.
Business man Carey boasts an equally impressive career within venture capital and private equity firms. He has honed his skills working with global teams and assessing investment decisions. While Lawrence focuses on the creative direction of the Homage properties, Carey ensures that they make sound financial decisions by leading their business strategy and fundraising efforts. The Moor is the first of many properties that this dynamic duo plans to open in U.S. cities where they deem "Black culture is thriving;” including D.C., Brooklyn, and Detroit, among others.
Lawrence told the Howard Newsroom: "After transferring from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to Howard University at the end of my sophomore year, I was amazed at the diversity within the diaspora. I didn’t realize the need to celebrate, not only what brings us all together, but even what separates us culturally as well. In fact, each Homage property will pay reverence to the locale in which it’s situated. No detail will go unnoticed in providing guests with an experience that highlights the best of our culture from city to city."
The Moor is touted as a "hausotel" or boutique home that maintains its own personalized identity from that of a traditional hotel or bed and breakfast. A Spanish-colonial style home built in 1921 was renovated and refurbished for this unique destination. It is a four-unit property located in the Mid-City District of New Orleans right on Canal Street. Each unit features common living areas, bedrooms, and kitchenette spaces. Décor celebrates New Orleans heritage and global influence of The Moors of North Africa who made up the largest group of Muslims in the British landscape during the 1960s.
Their second property is slated to open in 2019 in Oakland, California called "The Town Hotel." "Our form of hospitality is no different than the love, appreciation and gratitude felt during Homecoming at Howard. That form of hospitality is inherently ours as African Americans and now it's time to be highlighted on a large scale and we’re making room for that to happen."
Visit www.stayhomage.com to explore The Moor and additional properties as they are opened by this pioneering and visionary team.