Jerry Merkin, a hospitality media icon who spent more than four decades in the business, died earlier this week following a long illness. He was 85.
Merkin spent his entire career in publishing, mostly focused on hospitality. He was first publisher of Hotel & Motel Management, now Hotel Management, and in 1992 founded Hotel Business and also served as its publisher. He is also a recipient of the Lodging Conference Above and Beyond Award.
His contributions to the hospitality industry beyond media are far. “In 1989, Jerry was one of the first to join the newly formed board of directors of AAHOA,” said Mike Leven, retired president of Las Vegas Sands and founding father of AAHOA. “He was a champion of human rights and contributed mightily to the successful effort to free so many from discrimination and injustice. His life was a model to be admired and honored.”
Accolades and memories from those who knew and worked alongside Merkin are pouring in today, remembrances not just of him professionally, but personally.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend and colleague Jerry Merkin,” said Steven Belmonte, CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems, LLC. “Our industry has truly lost one of the good ones. I can sum up Jerry in three simple words... kind, gentle, and honorable. I will always remember Jerry walking around the various hotel conference floors with a giant stack of Hotel Business magazines under his arm. I remember I advertised in his very first issue. I don't believe that magazine would be here today if it weren't for Jerry, his passion, and his love of the industry. I have known him for over 25 years and I never saw him do anything that wasn't good, helpful and meaningful.”
“After his family, hotels were Jerry’s life,” said Stacy Silver, president of Silver Hospitality Group and former publisher of Hotel Business. “He was a true mentor to me and shared his passion for the industry and news on a daily basis. He taught me that selling is not a business, but an art and our job was to understand a client’s needs and help them be successful. If you were able to do that, then they will want to do business with you and that is true success. He will be greatly missed.”
"Jerry was a complete joy to work with," said Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President/Editorial Director of Luxury Travel Advisor and Travel Agent, who worked alongside Merkin at Hotel Business from 1999 to 2003. "Whenever big hotel news broke, you’d hear a yell of glee coming from Jerry’s office. He also had an uncanny skill at predicting what would happen next in the hotel industry, based on his vast knowledge of everything that went on. I was always very proud to walk with Jerry at industry conferences, because he was so respected by everyone."
"Jerry Merkin was a true professional whose knowledge of the hospitality industry was legendary," said Dorothy Jennings, Executive Vice President, HVS and also the conference coordinator of the annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. "On an annual basis, he offered relevant topic suggestions for the NYU Conference and was on a first-name basis with all of the major players. Jerry was not just an informational source, he was a friend and confidant to many with whom he interacted. With good-natured humor, he was an attentive listener which is a talent in itself. He will be missed by his friends and colleagues."
He is survived by his children, Joan and David.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made by check payable to New York University, indicating that the donation is in Mr. Merkin’s honor. Please mail checks to:
In honor of Jerry Merkin
New York University
Office of University Development
25 West Fourth Street, Room 334
New York, NY 10012