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Boutique or Bust!

Hospitality industry exec Larry Broughton’s taking you on a trip to the finest hotels—but this journey has only just begun.

Broughton’s Hots: Spending time with his kids, watching underdogs win, Ducks hockey games, hiking in O.C.

Broughton’s Nots: People who blame others for their failures, loud cellphone conversations, socks with flip-flops, fanny packs

As a nine-year veteran of the Green Berets, Larry Broughton had hoped for a life in politics. He didn’t anticipate that his first civilian job after the Army would be as the graveyard shift auditor of a run-down hotel, the Garden Inn, in San Francisco’s underbelly. “Drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes-that was our clientele,” he recalls with a chuckle. “My main job was just to keep the peace.” But it became the catalyst for a lucrative career in the boutique hotel industry. He now heads up Broughton Hotels, an Anaheim-based hospitality management firm that runs 15 properties, with another dozen or more on the books for expansion in the next few years.

At the Garden Inn, Broughton worked his way up to manager, and when a new group came in to renovate, he became a partner. By the way-that inn is now the Phoenix Hotel, which boasts guests like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Broughton branched out on his own in 2001, and he wanted to stick with the boutique concept. “When people go to a hotel, they want an emotional connection with [it],” he says. “You ever feel an emotional connection with a Motel 6?”

He’s proud his destinations don’t resemble each other. The Spanish Garden Inn in Santa Barbara, for example, fits the Mediterranean architecture of the city, while the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City is what he calls “irreverent... more fun, upbeat, hip and contemporary.” There are more properties-in Marin County and three in Chicago. Within the next year, he plans to pick up two in O.C.-a new territory for his biz. He expects to eventually double in size.

Does he regret not getting around to that career in politics? He smiles. “I wasn’t thick-skinned enough for that,” he says. “I love everything about what I’m doing. It’s just so diverse.”