The self-lockdown lifestyle of AKA’s Larry Korman

The president of luxury extended-stay brand AKA on rejuvenating his business in the middle of the pandemic

National Issue /
Sep.September 25, 2020 06:15 PM

Larry Korman (Photo by Emily Assiran)

Life under quarantine has brought big changes for everyone. For Larry Korman — the head of property development, management and marketing at AKA, the luxury extended-stay brand that he runs with his younger brother Brad — it’s literally been a matter of night and day.

Before Covid, Korman, 57, was a night owl, sending out emails as late as 3 a.m. But after six months in lockdown, he’s transformed into an early riser who’s in bed by midnight and composing his first round of emails at sunrise.

As the country shut down, Korman holed up with his wife, Korin, who runs a spa chain, and three adult children in their family home in Philadelphia, which was the final work of celebrated American architect Louis Kahn. Korman has dedicated himself to restoring and maintaining the home for decades, and he decided to go ahead with plans for yet another renovation this year despite conditions that would make others balk.

AKA was hit hard by the pandemic, leading Korman and his brother to suspend their salaries for a year. Many of AKA’s properties received Covid-relief loans, but Korman said that most of AKA’s corporate partners, including Brookfield Asset Management, BlackRock and Brandywine Realty Trust, sent the money back. “I wish we had taken some of it,” Korman admitted, though he said he believes AKA’s partners did the right thing.

As reopening began, a big win for AKA was helping film crews find ways to get back to work safely. The firm has also seen an uptick in a new client type — guests who plan to use their AKA suite primarily as a socially distanced office. Korman said he’s negotiating deals with hoteliers and condo sponsors eager to fill vacant rooms and unsold units, and he plans to travel to New York, Miami, Chicago and London. “I’m a child in a candy shop,” he said.

4:30 a.m. I wake up with a smile because my first thought is, “I’m going to get my La Colombe Corsica coffee.” I grind it, I smell it. I put my little cinnamon stick in. I take my coffee very seriously.

5:00 a.m. I take my two Maltipoos out in the morning, and I like drinking my coffee outside, watching the sunrise, and then getting right to work on the garden. I’m sort of cultivating my garden while I can’t do that at our properties.

5:30 a.m. I always send out something funny to the AKA team — like a funny cartoon or a clip from an old movie. I’m the chair of the Philadelphia Film Society, so I have an arsenal of clips.

7:30 a.m. I shave every day and do all the normal things I would do on any business day. Except for my clothes. I started out in a jacket and tie. Then I eliminated the tie, then the jacket, then the pants — but I still wear a nice shirt. Today, I’m wearing black jeans and sneakers. When I go to visit properties, I wear a tie and jacket.

8:00 a.m. I start my calls with different managing directors and partners. I’ve never been on the phone so much or done more Zoom meetings as this year, and I never was a big phone person. I don’t think this will become the norm, but I certainly see positives to it. I can visit a lot more people virtually than I could physically in London and Los Angeles.

11:00 a.m. Once a week, and then once a month, and now once a quarter, I was doing my Zoom calls with the whole company of about 700. The first one I did was from our office with the computer all the way at the other end of a long, empty conference table as a joke. 

12:00 p.m. Lunch is now my breakfast. I either make scrambled eggs or a really nice salad. My oldest son, Alec, criticizes me throughout because he’s a really meticulous chef, while I’m just trying to get the ingredients in the pan, eat it and get back to work.

12:30 p.m. More calls. I prefer individual calls. I just find it more humanizing in a pandemic and more productive ultimately. Every week, I have about eight calls with different partners and about 20 calls with team leaders and staff members.

5:00 p.m. I try to stop whatever call I’m on at 5 p.m. to take a one-hour walk. My home is next to a 250-acre vineyard, which is magnificent. I’ve actually lost 20 pounds over the past five months.

6:00 p.m. Sometimes I’ll take a call while working out. The person knows I’m working out, but I’ve been on calls where I’ll have to ask, “Are you going to the bathroom?” I haven’t done that.

7:30 p.m. Alec cooks at night because I’ll work right up until everybody yells at me to come in. My one and only role is to set the table, and they yell at me because I do it last minute.

8:00 p.m. I respond to about 300 to 400 emails a day, so a lot of my email time is after dinner. I try and sit outside. I love that time of night, with the sun setting. I love seeing the house lit up and all my landscaping illuminated. Sunsets are my single favorite thing in life, although I’ve learned to appreciate sunrises a lot more this year.

10:00 p.m. My wife goes to bed before me, so she’ll want me to get off the email and spend a little time together. We just started rewatching “The Sopranos.”

11:00 p.m. Late at night I’ll watch “Tiger King” or “Ozark” after my wife falls asleep.

12:00 a.m. I try and cut it short at midnight, but I used to go until two or three in the morning.


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