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So much hotel news, so little time – here are a few snippets to keep you up to date with the latest news from around the world!
· DEBUT HOTEL GROUP TO MANAGE LIVE AQUA HOTELS IN THE US: This brief is a bit of a doozy but here's what's happening--Grupo Posadas, Mexico’s largest hotel operator, is bringing its premier luxury boutique hotel brand, Live Aqua, to major U.S. cities, courtesy of benefactor/private equity group, Bighorn Capital, Inc. Debut Hotel Group, a Hampshire Hotels Management company, who are in charge of the Dream, Night and Time Hotel brands, will manage the Live Aqua U.S. hotels which are expected to "debut" in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston and Washington, D.C. Interestingly, Chicago will be the first U.S. city to get a Live Aqua in 2017. Keep reading as the next brief is connected to this one.
· DREAM HOTELS TO OPEN IN CHICAGO: The Live Aqua hotel mentioned above will open in an 82-story high-rise in the West Loop area, which will actually be dual-developed as a Live Aqua and Dream Hotel. Yes, Dream Chicago is now happening. However, do not confuse this building with the other Mexican hospitality group Grupo Habita who are opening a hotel in Wicker Park, nor should you confuse it with the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. Meanwhile, a Time Hotel is expected to open in Nyack, NY. We'll have more on that later this week.
· INTRODUCING THE HOUSE COLLECTIVE: Forget luxury homes, when you can stay in luxury "Houses" from Swire Hotels. The Opposite House in Beijing, The Upper House in Hong Kong and the just-opened Temple House in Chengdu have always been united but now they've been consciously branded as The House Collective with a new website to boot.
More news briefs below!
Nearly two years ago, news came out that Sunset Tower hotelier Jeff Klein had purchased a "clothing optional gay motel" in West Hollywood. At the time, the spot was known not just for its lax clothing policy but also for the drug habits of its guests. Its nickname was "Sin Bin."
But a year after purchasing the property, Klein had done significant upgrades to the 29 bungalows and the pool they surround (the jacuzzi was removed) to warrant a feature article in the NY Times. Today, the hotel goes by the name San Vicente Bungalows and looks like a chic little oasis in the middle of WeHo. But it is by no means luxe.
Gay Hotels / Hotel News / Jeff Klein / Naked Hotels / Clothing Optional Hotels / West Hollywood Hotels / → All Tags
We've always wanted hotelier Jeff Klein to open more hotels. After all, his Sunset Tower Hotel is one of the best hotels in LA, loved by celebs like Jennifer Aniston. Not to mention, with his City Club Hotel in New York City, he was a firm believer in offering free Wifi to his guests at a time when most hotels were still sending folks down to the business center to get online. But we're not quite sure about his latest acquisition.
Curbed LA reports that Klein has recently purchased a "a clothing-optional gay motel" in West Hollywood that's more known for being a drug haven. Eeek. The place is also adjacent, ironically, to a rehab facility called Klean. (Yes, that is correct.) But while Klein plans to keep the clothing optional aspect of the inn, he has now enforced a "zero tolerance" drug policy. Thank god.
However, he still has his work cut out for him. Check out this recent review of the inn on TripAdvisor reviews:
Hot Hotelier News / Hotel News / King and Grove Hotels / Ben Pundole / Ed Scheetz / Jeff Klein / Ian Schrager / → All Tags
It's been a busy year for King & Grove Hotels, the boutique hotel brand started by former Morgans Hotel Group CEO Ed Scheetz and Ben Pundole, the former Director of Entertainment at Morgans. (You may remember him as the man who brought SPiN Ping Pong to the Mondrian LA.)
King & Grove started out just over a year ago with two boutique properties in the Hamptons before going on to assume management of The Tides South Beach, the Hotel Williamsburg, the Hotel Chelsea and the Hotel Lola as well as plotting out two hotels for downtown Los Angeles. But it looks like all the fast expansion has taken its toll on the brand's foundation--specifically Pundole.
The NY Post reports that Pundole resigned from K&G on Thursday after the promise of ownership and control of the company from Scheetz and K&G's other owner Joseph Chetrit--whose Chetrit Group has bought several of the hotels that K&G is operating--fell through. A source gave the lowdown on the exit to the Post:
Ben has been treated pretty unfairly. Ben created Ruschmeyer’s, which has been a wild success, and was the creator of this new hotel brand. He found and hired most of the employees and even found the Williamsburg, which they purchased on his suggestion, and now he’s walking away with nothing. Chetrit and Scheetz are taking his hard work, contacts and hip following.
HotelChatter 2010 Awards / Hot Hotelier News / Nick Jones / Soho House Hotels / Andre Balazs / Ian Schrager / Jason Pomeranc / Sean MacPherson / Jeff Klein / → All Tags
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.
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.
Hmm...we can't really classify this under Holiday Hotel Decorations. Perhaps we need to start a new series, Holiday Hotel Cards?
But for the holiday season, hotelier Jeff Klein decided to reach out to a few regular celeb guests for some help. The NY Times' Media Decoder blog reports that Klein enlisted the help of "Lonely Island" aka SNL writers/stars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone to create a holiday video greeting to send to his list of 5,000 very special hotel guests.
For all that talk that Jeff Klein gives about how his Sunset Tower Hotel is the most private of private celeb-friendly hotels and that his staffers are held to the highest of high non-disclosure standards, there's really nothing he can do about this view into his hotel, taken from the rooftop pool at The Andaz West Hollywood.
We're thinking that Klein, a very savvy hotelier, probably would never put any of his celeb clientele in a strip-facing room but if they insist on the view, he should probably warn them to close the drapes at night. That goes for you too Jennifer Aniston up there in the penthouse suite! Kidding. We didn't see Jen there. But we could have.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Sunset Tower Hotel has become not only the latest haunt of entertainment industry heavyweights and deal-brokers, but has also changed the rules and raised the standard about how such a venue should operate.
The illustrative anecdote provided by the Times was about the recent firing of a room-service waiter for leaking a story to US Weekly about Renée Zellwegger champagne-ing it up in a suite with a man. Not only did hotel-owner Jeff Klein hire a private detective to find out who had leaked the story, but he has made it an ironclad directive that any staff member who does something comparable will be fired on the spot.
Beyond that, the hotel is apparently turning away clientele it deems undesirable—cases in point: Britney Spears and Sean Combs. Though given Spears’ problems with paparazzi, being blacklisted at Los Angeles hotels is not a new experience for the pop star.
We were looking forward to reading hotelier Jeff Klein's blog posts at the NYT The Moment blog. But unfortunately his third post had to be about something so tragic--yesterday's passing of actor Heath Ledger at age 28.
Klein writes that Heath, then-girlfriend (wife?) Michelle Williams and their newborn daughter Matilda spent four months living at the Sunset Tower Hotel. Some tidbits that Klein shares about Heath as a hotel guest.
My dealings with Ledger began when his agent called me personally -- they often do -- to make a reservation. Ledger was shooting a movie and wanted to stay in the Sunset Tower for four months. It was one of my first celebrities at the hotel and I was insanely excited for so many reasons. He was hot hot hot and fresh off "Brokeback Mountain," which everyone was talking about. He was sure to get an Oscar and soon! So I couldn't believe he wanted to stay at my hotel....
Ledger and Michelle Williams, his wife at the time, took a suite with their baby and the nanny. And he soon revealed himself to be one of the kindest, sweetest guests we have ever had. He had absolutely no pretention, was very chic (in a sort of bohemian way) and was always a gentleman to all the employees here, including me....
Heath Ledger was an extremely talented actor, a devoted father, and a very kind giving man. He was also the perfect hotel guest and he will be very missed by us all at Sunset Tower.
You can read Jeff Klein's full post on Heath Ledger here. He gets into a bit of tiff in comments with people who accuse him, a gay man, of being a homophobe. Seriously. But you can sort that out for yourselves. Now, excuse us now while we cry in a corner for Heath.
[Photo: Jennifer S. Altman/LA Times]
Our 2006 Hotelier of the Year Jeff Klein has begun a guest blogging stint for the NYT mag's "The Moment" blog. As a blogger, he is going to be sharing some of his observations on the hotel world. But in his inaugural post, he dishes on why he got into the hospitality industry in the first place.
Ever since I can remember I have been freakishly obsessed with hotels, much more so than the average hotel geek who concerns himself only with bathroom products, bed linen thread count and front-desk service.
Then he recounts how this obsession got him slapped by his mother at age 15 in Rome when he preferred to check out the Hassler hotel than take a private tour of the Vatican's art collection. Ouch!
That's probably the most interesting bit in this blog post. Klein also talks about how he got into the industry (starting as a bellman!) and the troubles he had in opening City Club in the months after 9/11 (thisclose to bankruptcy), as well as how Sunset Tower has become his proudest achievement ("excellence without pretense".)
But what we loved about Klein back in 2006 is that he's not expansion crazy. Just the opposite in fact. He says:
I would rather have fewer hotels that are consistent with who I am and what my customer wants than compromise the freakish obsession that got me slapped on that trip to Rome when I was 15.
We applaud this but we are wondering--being the greedy hotel geeks that we are--maybe he could open just one more hotel soon?
Also when it comes to a hotel's nightlife, Klein's not going to be violating any drinking age laws soon:
I don't want 100 kids drinking $16 cosmos; I am my customer, and like me, my customer is an adult and wants an adult experience.
[Photo via NY Times]
With the Plaza Hotel to re-open in January, it's getting to be crunch time for the famous Oak Room restaurant. Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair was looking to take over the legendary bar and restaurant last July but Page Six says that he has backed out.
Carter partnered up with Jeff Klein, of the City Club Hotel on West 44th Street and the Sunset Tower in LA, and Jeremy King, owner of the Woolsey restaurant in London. But a spokesperson told us, "Graydon Carter and his partners Jeff Klein and Jeremy King withdrew their interest Thursday." Peter Glazier, owner of Michael Jordan's and the Strip House steakhouse chain, has also pulled out, citing "environmental issues." Sources say he was referring to asbestos on the premises. But Lloyd Kaplan, a spokesman for Elad Properties, which owns the Plaza, called the asbestos allegation "totally absurd."
Whatever is going on in there, Elad Properties is having a tough time finding a chef and management group. Nello Balan and the Lesort brothers also took a pass. But the Elad spokesman insists the hotel is close to finalizing a deal with a top chef soon. Maybe they should hold a reality show competition for the position?
If you know a wealthy hotelier, you might want to start buttering them up right now. And if you are related to a hotelier, well shoot, you better think of some way to make sure you're in their will. Leona Helmsley left her fortune to her dog Trouble and not to any of her grandkids or great grandkids. We knew she was mean but whoa. That dog is kinda cute though.
Elsewhere in the hotelier universe:
· Andre Balazs gussies up the Bar Marmont [LA Times]
· George Lucas ruined Jeff Klein's hope for a classy dress code at Sunset Tower [NY Post]
· We learn Ian Schrager doesn't use ad agencies in the new book Chasing Cool [Forbes]
· Anybody named Joy invited to Chip Conley's anniversary party for JDV Hospitality on 9/23/07 [Earth Times]