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Travel changed Chelsea Hershelman’s life two days after her 18th birthday, when she made the decision to step onto a plane to France as an exchange student, knowing just a few words of French and not a single person. “Away from my comfort zone, my soul could be clearer. It’s informed my whole career: I think there is nothing more special than getting to know a place and its people and then turning around to share it with others and learn, in turn, from them.”

That experience fixed in her a desire to combine a love of culture, art and travel into her professional pursuits. Hershelman is a member of CoralTree’s project development team, working with corporate and hotel teams, owners, developers, interior designers, architects and other key consultants to ensure hotels are renovated and/or built to meet set goals, look/feel, positioning and expectations.

With a masters degree in art history, Hershelman brings an artist’s sensibility to her work, understanding how design, when done right, can tell stories and create experiences of the space.

She began her career with Benjamin West, eventually moving to London to open their UK office as a project director. She later served as a senior project manager of design, construction and pre-opening for Ace Hotel Group (Atelier Ace) before moving on to work with Hyatt Hotels as their director of project services and studio lead for the Americas Design Services Team. In addition, Hershelman has run her own hospitality consultancy.

Hershelman believes that hospitality is, at its core, an act of empathy. “At the very essence, we offer people a safe place to stay and recharge that acts as a base for whatever brings them to our location. Hotels are a place where people can be delighted, inspired to discover the place they’re in, and to feel comfortable to be open to all the possible ways that travel can open our eyes, minds and worlds.”