Peter Koehler : Managing S.F.’s InterContinental Hotel

A 32-story glass-and-metal buidling will soon rise South of Market, and Peter Koehler, 53, will be in charge of it.

The InterContinental San Francisco, set to open in February, will be the largest hotel to open in San Francisco in 19 years.

Koehler, who has 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, will manage 350 employees and be responsible for 550 rooms, 14 suites, 43,000 square feet of meeting space — all with natural light — and an 11,000-square-foot spa and wellness center.

“We want to reinforce San Francisco as a great destination for the convention client,” Koehler said, “but we need the right balance for the convention client, the business client, and the leisure client.”

The hotel will open at 888 Howard St., next to the Moscone Convention Center and the SoMa shopping district.

“SoMa is more and more the cultural center of San Francisco,” Koehler said. “It’s business, culture and retail, which is the ideal mix for anyone coming to The City.”

Koehler aims to make the InterContinental San Francisco the most technology-friendly in the city.

The entire hotel will offer wireless Internet and rooms will feature a 42-inch flat-panel HDTV and VoIP. More important, though, each room will be wired with Category 6 cable capable of carrying nearly 1 gigabit per second.

In addition to high bandwidth, the rooms’ digital backbone will operate the thermostat and adjust the air conditioner when guests are not in the room, turn off appliances not in use, and operate an infrared billing system for the minibar.

“There will be a vast amount of information transfer,” Koehler said.

Koehler has operated hotels in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Prior to becoming general manager of the InterContinental, Koehler was general manager of Morgans Hotel in New York City, where he led the hotel to receive a number one ranking in Lodging Hospitality’s list of 400 Top Performing City Hotels; Campton Place Hotel in San Francisco; and Hotel Palomar, San Francisco, where he led the hotel to a AAA Four Diamond award and Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List of the World’s Best Places to Stay in 2006.

Koehler also helped open the Ritz-Carlton in New York City, the Omni Hotel at Independence Park in Philadelphia, and the Mandarin Oriental in Mexico City.

“What I always wanted to do was travel, see the world and work with people,” Koehler said.

BUSINESS

New project: General Manager of the new InterContinental San Francisco

Last project: General Manager of the Hotel Palomar and Fifth Floor Restaurant

Number of e-mails a day: About 40

Number of voicemails a day: About 20

Essential Web site: Google

Best perk: Staying in and experiencing great hotels

Gadgets: Preferably low tech — my Montblanc pen

Education: Hotel and Restaurant degree, Bremen, Germany

Last conference: InterContinental General Managers Conference in London/Paris, July 2007

First job: Delivering newspapers on a bike; I was 12 years old

Original aspiration: Work in an international environment

Career objective: Successful opening and positioning of the new InterContinental Hotel

PERSONAL

Age: 53

Likes: Travel, meeting interesting people

Dislikes: Selfishness, superficial people

Defining quirks: Using three pots to make my green tea in the morning

Hometown: Born in Bremen, Germany, but I consider San Francisco my home

Sports/hobbies: Soccer, walking, bicycling if I find the time

Transportation: Currently cable car to my pre-opening office on Nob Hill

Favorite restaurant: Trattoria Vivande on Fillmore for great homemade pasta

Computer:New iMac

Vacation spot: Italy and Spain

Favorite clothier: Armani, Zegna

Role Model: My mother. She encouraged me early on to fulfill my dream to see the world.

Reading: “Three cups of Tea”

Worst fear: Illness of a close friend or family member

Motivation: Working with a great team

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