Capital Hotel’s Chuck Magill Epitome of Southern Class, Impeccable Style

Any man that describes his marriage as a 33-year date is A-OK in our books. But when it comes to Southern charm and sophistication, that’s just the beginning with Chuck Magill.

The dapper Magill was born in Chicago, but his father’s business carried the family to a small town in Iowa, where Magill says he enjoyed a “marvelous, Tom Sawyer sort of upbringing.” His mother was from New York, his father from Virginia, so he saw much of the U.S. while traveling to visit family.

It was during these travels that Magill developed a love affair with the South and decided that’s where he’d attend college. “I was headed to Virginia, Washington and Lee being first choice and William and Mary second,” he says. “To my surprise, my maternal grandfather commented that they would be proud to have another ‘Spider’ [Richmond’s mascot] in the family and, shortly thereafter, my father bowled me over by suggesting another generation at [Virginia] Tech would be an honor.” Feeling cornered, he chose Tulane in New Orleans, where he graduated with a B.S. in political science. “I could have added a B.A. in art history if it had made any more difference than a poli-sci degree,” he jokes.

His meeting and courtship with wife Gigi sounds like a romantic comedy movie plot. The couple met through a mutual friend in New Orleans, and each initially thought the other quite irritating, but in the end, irresistible. Many lengthy conversations, dates and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers songs later, the two wed. The next time you run into Magill, ask him about it. It’s a story definitely worth hearing first-person.

Magill’s hospitality career began in the 1970s when he joined the Royal Orleans Hotel team as a sales representative. Positions at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, The Broadmoor, Omni Hotels, Orient-Express, the Wyndham Hotel Group and others followed, taking him from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., Colorado, Boston, Silicon Valley and back again.

In 2005, the Magills literally blew into Little Rock from New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Chuck had only seen the Capital Hotel once in the 1970s when it was closed, but says he always included it in his top 10 hotels worldwide. His second encounter with the hotel was when he interviewed for the director of marketing position. He got the job, of course, and has been with the Capital Hotel since October 2005, a few weeks before it closed for what proved to be a two-year transformation.

Of his position, Magill says that it covers a lot of turf. “My primary focus is on customers, with specific attention to sales and revenue generation, the lifeblood to any business. Positioning an independent luxury hotel, locally, regionally and nationally from a tertiary market is a fascinating challenge, however, and that requires a lot of person-to-person communication. In a world of over-abundant information, it takes a lot of work to demonstrate our authenticity.”

Magill certainly looks the part. Regarding his clothing style, a bartender in New Orleans once commented that Magill “doesn’t dress for work. He masks,” comparing the act of dressing to preparing for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. “Both are part of who I am and couldn’t be changed any more than I could change my eye color, for better or for worse,” he says.

Read more about Magill’s signature style below, in his own quite eloquent words.

Soirée: What is your favorite style era?

Magill: In my heart I always emulated William Powell, so the 1930s. If you see our wedding picture, you will note the slim mustache. One day Gigi was surprised to see me emerge from the daily ablutions sans mustache. “I’m too big to be William Powell,” and so I was. Gigi and I often describe the chapters of our life as walking into the third act of a play and not realizing it was the end. One such chapter for me was arriving in New Orleans in the city’s last days as a grand Southern city. My fondest memories will always be the daily rush on street corners crowded with men in seersucker, pin cord and white linen suits. Ultimately I have always tried to uphold that tradition, even when we lived in Colorado, Boston or Washington, D.C.

Do you prefer bow ties or neckties?

Bows have always been my favorite, although not entirely for appearance. It is hard to spill soup on the bow tie, and eating is a big part of the hotel business. One would probably regard my tie collection as somewhat larger, but most of them have actually been around a long time. Having lived in New Orleans so many years I have always had two seasons of entirely separate clothing.

How long have you been wearing those wonderful specs? Did you purchase them locally?

For better or for worse, glasses came relatively late in my life. It has probably been 10 years. They are from Burrow’s and Mr. Frank’s in The Heights, although there are a couple of holdovers from the Crescent City. Actually, my first readers just celebrated 30 years in action (probably won’t see 31, mind you).

Do you buy your suits locally? If so, who dresses you?

Everything good that happened to me in Little Rock involves longtime friend, haberdasher and now priest, Curtis Jones. When I first met Curtis, he was working at Baumans downtown. By the time Curtis and Mary invited me to stay with them for my first interview (which was a result of Curtis), he was working at Mr. Wicks. After completing the move here I once told him, “It will take a lifetime of purchases to thank you for all you have done for us.” On the other hand, I met Wayne Ratliff, owner of Baumans, when Curtis worked there and have maintained a relationship with him over the years. As a result of planning the Baumans shop in the hotel, we became professionally reacquainted. It has always been my philosophy to support one’s neighbors, and I have tried to do that.

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