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Hotelier of the Year: Nick Jones of Soho House Hotels

December 31, 2010 at 12:46 PM | by | ()

It's what you've been waiting all year for--The 2010 HotelChatter Awards! We'll be bringing you the best and worst of the year all day today and part of tomorrow. Agree or disagree with our picks? Air your thoughts in comments below.

In looking at our hot hotelier coverage from the past year, just three names consistently come up--Andre Balazs, Ian Schrager and Steve Wynn, who is really a casino mogul than a hotelier.

Where have all the hoteliers gone? Have bigger hotel brands finally pushed out the hip, cool, trendsetting, modelizing, jetsetting hotelier? That's what it seems like.

Just looking at six new hotels that are opening/have opened in NYC recently, four of them are from larger hotel brands (namely Starwood.) And in the coming years, both Hyatt Hotels and Hotel Indigo plan on saturating Manhattan with their brand.

With our usual staple of hoteliers just kicking back and relaxing (see below), we were hard pressed to find someone actively expanding his or her hotel collection. Then we remembered:

The Soho House Hotels, the members-only clubs with hotel rooms attached for both members and non-members alike.

Aside from the flagship hotel New York, Soho House also has The Babington House, The Dean Street Townhouse, The High Road House and The Shoreditch in/near London as well as the Soho House Berlin and Soho Beach House Miami in their hotel collection. Those last three hotels opened in 2010 alone.

The man behind the Soho House Hotels is British entrepreneur Nick Jones who actually did some real work in the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane as a marketing manager.

He opened the first Soho House in London in 1995 as a private members club for edgy artists and creative peoples...and celebrities. But this location doesn't have hotel rooms. That came in 2003 with the Soho House New York.

Despite a terribly tragic death at the Soho House in New York a few weeks ago, the Soho House has been a favorite hotel for celebrities, VIP Londoners and other A-listers. And their hotel rates aren't totally outrageous either.

The other hotels that have opened all seem to have that certain Soho House je nais se quoi--lofty and light rooms with vintagey furnishings--but profess to have their own personality. We've yet to see any amazing services or amenities from Soho House hotels but it's obvious that the experience you're paying for is access to the private club where you may spot a famous actor or fashion designer.

Yet now that Miami Beach has opened (with the design envisioned by Jones himself), we expect everyone who's anyone to flock there this winter. Rates usually start at $400 a night and will go up depending on the weekend/demand.

Soho Beach House Miami

Jones has lots of plans for the Soho brand, having told the WSJ he's thinking about Mumbai, Istanbul, Milan, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington and New Orleans. Phew! But we hope he can finagle something in Los Angeles. The private club there, with its two rooftop bars, restaurants, screening room and play areas, is amazing but drinking and driving home is not.

Now, let's take a look at what all of the other hoteliers have been up to lately:

· Jason Pomeranc: Not only has Jason toned down his mentions in the NY gossip columns, he's toned down his hotel expansion plans. Thompson Toronto opened this year and next year The Belgravia, a Thompson Hotel will open in London but still this is positively quiet compared to the year he opened three hotels in NYC.

· Jeff Klein: Klein seems to be content with hosting Jennifer Aniston at the Sunset Tower and making periodic trips back to NYC's CityClub. Not much going on for him here.

· Sean MacPherson: His Bowery Hotel remains his strongest property but there doesn't seem to be any new hotels on the horizon these days.

· Ian Schrager: Schrager is simultaneously pimping out his skills for Marriott Hotels with the Edition Hotels brand while spinning off his new hotel company and two new brands. We'll see what he puts together in 2011.

· Andre Balazs: 2010 was a good year for Andre Balazs but not a good one for his guests at the Standard NY who can in no way access the Boom Boom Room after 9pm. It also may have been a rough year romantically, given that he was coupling up with Courtney Love for a bit. But he'll continue to bring his sex appeal to hotel rooms in 2011, most likely in London.

[Photo: WSJ]

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