April 30, 2024

Papa Raul, a Majestic, and me.

It is rare these days that I find time to sit down and write a blog post or article. It’s something I used to enjoy doing when I was a contributor to HOTELS magazine and other publications. Before you continue reading, let me warn you that this post has little to do with hospitality but, I think you will appreciate it nonetheless.

I recently found myself in a foolish self-inflicted situation. This snafu involved an email from a car dealer making wild claims about the internal strategic plans of a luxury automaker. It was so outrageous that I was compelled to share it with a private forum of car enthusiasts. In doing so, my hope was to at least find out if others had heard this rumor or, more worryingly, have it be confirmed.

What I did not anticipate was someone in the group taking a screenshot and sharing it on X, formerly Twitter. This incident is genuinely the only thing I have ever personally been involved with that has gone viral. When I last checked, the post had a few million views and several hundred reposts, *bangs head against the wall*. Needless to say, the automaker in question contacted me. Thankfully, none of what the email had claimed was true.

While profoundly embarrassed and profusely apologizing for the errors in my way to the automaker’s brand directors, the situation unexpectedly brought back some deep childhood memories. Good ones. It got me reminiscing. What’s in a name? Why is our company called Majestic Hospitality Group? To be honest, this is a deeply personal story that I have not shared widely.

Well, I grew up being a car fanatic. My parents claim that as a child riding in my booster seat, I could incessantly name any brand of car by looking at its hubcaps. At one point, I even collected hubcaps and had the walls of my bedroom covered in them (not the best décor choice when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake struck).

Anyway, one brand of car has always been my favorite: Jaguar. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful and striking than the sleek curved lines of Britain’s legendary cats. When I was a kid, if I sketched a car, it was always a Jaaaaag. Ok fine, I even do this as an adult when I am bored at a BHN/Northstar conference.

My maternal grandparents lived in Santa Monica, California and around the corner from their apartment was Hornburg, the local Jaguar dealer. My grandfather, Raul, would take me there regularly on our outings so I could play in the cars.

I am not entirely sure if it was because my Dad had bought several from them or if I was just a really cute kid but, they would let me sit in every car, ask a billion questions, and collect any brochure I wanted. True hospitality on their part. We were no strangers to their showroom, to put it mildly. It was my childhood heaven and happy place. The perfect outing with Papa Raul.

In 1990 and 1992, Jaguar had a limited production model for the American market called the Vanden Plas Majestic. For some unknown reason, I was obsessed with it. Was it the color? Or, perhaps, its space, pace, and graciousness? They were insanely expensive for their time, and only 500 lucky people could take one home. Of course, Hornburg had an example in their showroom window so off we were to see it, sit in it, and play in it.

At that moment, what neither Papa Raul nor I realized was that it would be our last outing together. Life, in its fickle way, had other plans.

Within a couple of weeks, Papa Raul was taken ill, and less than a year later, he was gone. The nefarious monster, Alzheimer’s, took my grandfather away. I was only six at the time. Being so young, I do not have a plethora of memories of him, just fragments. Yet over 30 years later, there is one day in particular that is still crystal clear: Papa Raul, a Majestic, and me.

While my Grandfather was funny, big, and full of life, he was also a proud Mexican immigrant and not a wealthy man. My mother, Stella, has always told me that back in the 1960s when they first moved to California, all he wanted was a Jaguar E-Type.

Growing up I always dreamed that I would have made it in life when I could drive a brand-new Jaguar XJ (now discontinued), off the showroom floor. Sadly, neither of our dreams were met, but in hindsight, perhaps these Jaguar outings allowed us both to live out our fantasies.

It is amazing how a single fleeting moment in time can have such a long-term impact. The origin story of our company name “Majestic” and brand color “Regency Red” all go back to that one specific day. The deeply personal nature of the story is why I passionately promote, yet so fiercely protect, our name.

While this post had little to do with hospitality, I hope it brought you warmth and sincerity. To my sainted grandfather, Raul Mora, and the graciously forgiving brand directors from JLR (Jaguar Land Rover), thank you for the journey down memory lane.

Viva Mexico! and God Save The King.