Lorne Bassel is a rare bird. A zen-like businessman. A Montrealer … with eyes trained on the world. A real estate developer focused on … the happiness of people. Because for him, it’s all a question of balance.
Born into a family pre-occupied daily as much by real estate as by intellectual curiosity, Lorne Bassel learned at an early age to successfully combine business and emotions. His father worked in real estate while his mother was a cultural advocate and spokesperson for important causes. Add to that a childhood surrounded by four brilliant sisters who still dote on him. No wonder Lorne Bassel lends so much importance to the emotions of his clientele.
A matter of design
After an honours degree in business administration (HBA) from the University of Western Ontario and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Bassel joined First Quebec Corporation in Montreal where he learned that buildings could be more than a pile of stone and that you did not need to be big to do big things. During the development of the Maison des coopérants he learned that carefully placed beds of tulips created better bridges between people than certain disciplines of ‘thoughtful’ architecture. Bassel claims inspiration from traditional European architecture with its emphasis on the ground floor of a building. These reception areas serve as welcoming space for people passing between private and public life, and reflect the comings and goings of the public. One doesn’t share the same point of view from the ground floor as from the 14th floor! Bassel is also drawn with admiration to European urban planning which mandates the creation of public spaces around which community life revolves.
A career sown with buildings
In 1993, he became one of the pillars of the five member Intrawest team. “At that time, we were young, innovative, naive, and gung-ho. Tremblant was born of the passion of people who made the most of what was already there. It’s fascinating to see people having fun in these places as if they had always existed.”
Lorne Bassel compares real estate projects to individuals: they are conceived without knowing what they will look like when older; have a rebellious teenage period requiring rules and structure; they generally enjoy a rich and serene adulthood; and often suffer existential crises in old age. At Intrawest, he would be responsible for the creation of twenty vacation resorts in both North America and Europe. In 2007, Lorne Bassel participated in the sale of Intrawest, a multi-billion dollar transaction. This period led to his involvement in the world of finance and his founding of the Crave Group in Montreal. Together with a few associates, he created a business partnership involved in a variety of projects with a focus as much on the construction of new developments as the repositioning of existing ones, whether resort projects or in urban milieus. But most importantly, the group promotes a unique approach whereby the client and buyer are both at the center of decision-making from the planning stage: “people places” as he calls them! Lorne Bassel feeds on emotion and gives as much importance to the needs of people in a complex as to those populating his ‘resorts’, to which he holds the secret. His experience, coupled with his humanist vision, make him one of the world’s experts in the creation of resort destinations and he remains active in directing pilot scale projects in the Bahamas, California, Colorado, Vermont, and British Columbia.Distancing himself from profitability at all costs, this leader, strategic thinker, and creator of exciting and memorable projects promotes happiness and takes into consideration human behavior … which makes him unique in his field and will no doubt soon put him on the path to coaching others.
Lorne Bassel. Passionate about his work? Without a shadow of a doubt. But there is nothing about him of the overworked businessman, always on the run. Because what he preaches in public, he observes in his personal life. Lorne confesses that his family and quality of life are his priorities and he prefers the simple pleasures. He is seldom more comfortable than at his country home in the Laurentians. And to maintain his Zen state of mind, he practices yoga daily. But his greatest pleasure is to take a daily walk with wife, Danielle, and his two sons. He also strives at all times to maintain contact with nature and ‘real life’; he skis, hikes, snowshoes, and daily gets to where he’s going on foot. Further, he makes it his duty to engage with the Jewish community and to provide support to people around him. Hence his two opportunities for coaching. No wonder Lorne’s mom has much to be proud of!