Early Family Ties to Myrtle Beach
Matthew’s family story in Myrtle Beach began with his great-uncle, Steve. He first ventured to the area in 1905 on vacation with his family, only to find the house they were meant to stay in was quarantined for tuberculosis. This resulted in the family bunking in their covered wagon. Myrtle Beach at this time was far from the bustling vacation destination it is today. It was primarily a truck farming zone for the Burroughs and Chapin Company.
Founding of the Chesterfield Inn
However, this first encounter was far from their last. Steve, along with his wife Flora Bell, would later buy a guest house in downtown Myrtle Beach. Post World War II, with some shrewd trading, Steve secured a significant number of bricks, allowing him to construct a modest hotel named the Chesterfield Inn.
Matthew’s Childhood Immersed in Hospitality
Matthew’s father Clay was actively involved in building this legacy. He helped construct the hotel during his college summer breaks and later managed the hotel’s front desk and beach operations. This set the stage for Clay and his wife, Patricia, to move to Myrtle Beach, where he took on the role of the hotel’s general manager.
Matthew was born into this buzzing hotel environment. Summers were a particularly immersive experience, with the family practically living within the hotel’s walls. The Chesterfield Inn offered an American plan, which meant that breakfast and dinner were included in the rate. During the busy season, Matthew’s family joined the guests for those meals.
Academic Pursuits and Global Adventures
By the time Matthew was in high school, he had already taken on a variety of roles within the hotel. During his high school years, Matthew would get up early to serve breakfast at the inn, bussing or waiting tables for golfers who dined early so they could start their game on the course. This allowed him to work in the dining room before heading off to school.
In the evening, he would return and work just a few hours for dinner. This job was perfect during the school year; it wasn’t a year-round commitment. However, there were some Friday night football games he had to miss, and he would occasionally arrive at school smelling faintly of bacon. Still, it was good money for a high school student.
Matthew’s academic pursuits led him to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he majored in English Literature but ironically put in more hours in business courses. After graduation, Matthew’s curiosity took him to Normandy, France, to master the French language, followed by a graduate degree in international business at the University of South Carolina. He then spent time in Germany and worked for what was then Arthur Anderson.
Returning to the Family Business
Despite these global adventures, the call of the family business was ever-present. After a stint with Manor Care, which is now Choice Hotels, in Silver Spring and living in D.C., Matthew’s father informed him of an opening in the business. The allure of family, combined with the opportunity to take charge, led him back to Myrtle Beach. He began by managing a small hotel named Sea Island, which would later be renamed Island Vista.
Matthew’s journey, from a childhood deeply entrenched in the world of hotels to leading the family business, showcases the unique blend of familial history, personal passion, and service commitment that has been the hallmark of the Brittain legacy. From a single property to a robust portfolio of 22 hotels, both branded and independent and ranging in size from 100 to 500 rooms, the Brittain name continues to stand for a personal, family-style approach to hotel management.
Brittain Resorts & Hotels (BRH) is a full-service hospitality management company providing multi-layered expertise in all disciplines of hotel and resort operations. Since 1943, BRH has been enriching the lives of its team members, guests, partners, and the communities they serve by providing exceptional guest experiences, a supportive work environment, and superior returns. With over 4,000 rooms, suites, and condos in the portfolio, the company currently operates 20 hotels and resorts and 40+ restaurants & bars within the United States.
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