By Kathy Day
This week The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe got new owners, the JMI Realty Group, and longtime managing director Kerman Beriker and The Inn’s internationally known chef — and Kerman’s son, John Beriker — bid a fond farewell to the community.
“I came for two years and stayed for eight,” Kerman said on April 5.
Reflecting on his career at The Inn and his 40-plus-year career in the hotel business, the stylish and articulate Beriker said it was time to move on to a new role as an asset manager, hotel consultant and university instructor. He’s heading for two new worlds. One will be Sun Valley, Idaho, where John is planning to open a restaurant and another son, who owns a computer store and business, also lives. The other world is Las Vegas, where he’s worked in the past and will be teaching hospitality classes at the University of Nevada.
His third son, a lawyer, is a vice president with Yahoo and lives in the Silicon Valley.
“It’s been a wonderful journey since my wife, Kristine, and I came here eight years ago,” Beriker said, noting that over the years he’s met “kings and queens, movie stars and billionaires.”
But, he added, he’s also enjoyed the guests at The Inn and residents of the community, which he describes in The Inn’s cookbook as “a paradise in the center of everything in this civilized and peaceful town.”
He says it will be hard to leave the people, calling them “very refreshing and down to earth … delightful.”
He was quick to note that he has been impressed by how much they care about their children and their schools.
“Education is most important and we have one of the best schools,” he said. And one of the things he’s going to miss is being involved with the hardworking members of the RSF Education Foundation.
Christy Wilson, executive director of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation and, like Beriker, a Rotarian, said she will miss her friend for his “wonderful community spirit. We are better because he was here.”
His “European sense of style, grace and graciousness elevated our community,” she added.
Beriker also drew praise from RSF Association Manager Pete Smith. “We had a great working relationship with him. He was dedicated, loyal and committed to the community and the property.”
As Beriker recalled his days at The Inn, he said he’s had some challenges and worked long hours, but “it’s the kind of lifestyle I enjoy... I love people. I love what I’m doing.”
The Swiss-born Beriker has lived that lifestyle around the world, working in luxury hotels from Canada and Europe to Mexico and the Caribbean. Among the landmarks he’s managed were the Hotel Bel Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel, which both earned coveted Five-Star ratings for the first time while he was running them.
He also had the unbeatable experience of hosting the grand re-opening party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, when 1,600 guests from Oscar winners to Army Archerd, the legendary Variety columnist who announced each guest, turned out for the gala benefit for the Motion Picture Academy.
As he heads out of the Ranch in about a week, he will take with him some special memories – many, like those from previous days, that he’s saving for a book he plans to write. One that he would share was about Mrs. Miller, a longtime resident and “lovely lady who always came to the hotel impeccably dressed.”
One day, he said, he bumped into her at the post office and she was “not so well dressed,” for which she was very apologetic.
Mostly, though, his memories will be of the community, going to the post office to chat with everybody and picking up his oldest grandson, Jonathan, at school.
He wrapped up his days with a luncheon on April 4 with his coworkers to thank them — the luncheon was also attended by some of the shareholders. Beriker was also honored at the April 9 RSF Rotary luncheon.
That he calls them his “co-workers” speaks volumes of Beriker’s work ethic.
Wherever he has been, he has interviewed every person hired, from dishwashers to assistant managers — upward of 50,000 individuals.
“We are like a family,” he said. “I see them more than I see my wife so it’s important to put together people who work well together.”
In addition to taking care of those people, he has also made sure that he respected the “integrity and financials for the owners” and that all customers were taken care of.
“You never say no as long as they don’t ask you do to something illegal,” he said.
As he moves to the next stage of his career – “There’s no retirement; I’m too active” – he plans to spend a little more time with his seven granddaughters and grandson. And, he added, he always has to adapt and go with changes in the business.
“I’m so lucky,” he said. “If you like what you do, when you smile it comes from the heart.”
And smile he did, as he walked back towards his office to wrap up another chapter in his career. “You have just one life to live. Just do what you want.”
Meet JMI Realty Group
• President John Kratzer, lives in the Covenant
: “JMI Realty is a private real estate investment and development company that was organized in 1992 as the real estate investment subsidiary of JMI, Inc., the investment management company of the John Moores family.”
• Master developer of the Ballpark District
• Developed Paseo del Mar office campus
• Developed the Omni San Diego adjacent to Petco Park and Hotel Solamar
• Representatives will be at the RSF Association’s board meeting on April 19 to talk about their plans for the Inn.