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Last August was undeniably the peak of hotelier Sam Nazarian's career. After a few years of stagnancy followed by some fast and furious renovations, the worn down Sahara Las Vegas casino and hotel was set free from its Rat Pack history days and transformed into the modern, design-forward, and frankly, thrilling SLS Las Vegas.
We attended the opening (you can read that coverage here) and even though we knew Nazarian didn't single-handedly breathe new life into a rather depressing end of the Las Vegas Strip, he was the visionary behind everything that is now in place at the resort--from Chef Jose Andres Bazaar Meat restaurant to Philippe Starck's stylish guest rooms, Umami Burger, LiFE Nightclub, Griddle Cafe and a handful of retail boutiques from Fred Segal.
Making the opening night of the SLS more meaningful for Sam was that he and his dad rang in the SLS opening bell in a ballroom where Frank Sinatra and other legends once performed.
But now, those legendary moments are over. At least for Nazarian in Las Vegas.
Stockbridge Capital, the company that owns 90 percent of the SLS Las Vegas to Nazarian's SBE's 10 percent, announced yesterday that Nazarian will no longer be involved in the management of the SLS Las Vegas.
Over the weekend, TMZ and Deadspin published recordings of Los Angeles Clippers' owner, Donald Sterling, making racist remarks to his younger girlfriend, including telling her not to pose on Instagram with black men or bring them to his games. #theworstever
While the NBA as a corporation figures out how they are going to penalize Sterling, NBA players and fans have been vocal about kicking Sterling out of the NBA for good. There was talk of boycotting the Clippers' games, but as the team is in the midst of a playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, boycotting the games would be like abandoning the players when they need the support the most. (The Clippers staged their own sort of protest yesterday by inside-outing their warm-up shirts so that the Clippers logo wouldn't show.)
But now what's coming out about Sterling is that his racism isn't a new thing. And the previous racist remarks he's made are heinous.
"Go to the hotel across the street" is actually not an excuse we've heard from a hotel but rather, other hotel guests.
While the hotel industry has made great strides in recent years with free WiFi, there are still quite a few major brands that are charging for WiFi. We gave you a run-down of the biggest offenders yesterday with a list of 10 hotels that still charge for WiFi.
We also explored one of the major reasons why hotels have been slow to get on the free WiFi train--the owner/operator struggle. But we thought you'd like to see some of the other reasons various hoteliers and industry folk have given HotelChatter in the past years about why they charge for WiFi.
1. "It's expensive to build a WiFi network and we need to make up for that cost somewhere." (Note: you can read our 2012 Hotel WiFi Report infographic to see just how "expensive" it is for hotels to build and maintain a WiFi network.)
2. "Our building is a historic building and it's hard to outfit the hotel with WiFi."
3. "There are privacy and safety concerns with having free WiFi."
4. "It's a revenue stream and we'd be stupid not to tap into it."
5. "If you're paying $400 a night for a room, what's another $15 or $20?"
Meanwhile, these hotels seem to be making free WiFi work for them.
Hoteliers / Sant Singh Chatwal / Vikram Chatwal / Hampshire Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Woes / → All Tags
Usually when we hear of a Chatwal hotelier in the news, it's often about Vikram Chatwal, the troubled hotelier behind The Dream Hotel brand. But today, it's Vikram's father who's in the news. And it's pretty serious.
The Daily News reports that Sant Singh Chatwal, the chairman of Hampshire Hotels & Resorts which includes his namesake, The Chatwal Hotel, pleaded guilty to "recruiting straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions to three federal candidates." He also pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness who he allegedly told to lie to the FBI and the IRS.
Chatwal stepped down as CEO of Hampshire Hotels earlier this month (probably because of the charges) but remains on as chairman. Eric Danziger, formerly CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group, took Chatwal's place. Wyndham franchises the Dream and Night hotels which were started by Chatwal.
Meanwhile, Chatwal faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $200,000 when he's sentenced on July 31. He also offered to pay the U.S. government $1 million in restitution.
This is not the first time Chatwal has been in trouble with the government. Back in 2012, it was discovered that The Chatwal Hotel pretended to be a church for several years to avoid paying taxes. (It's a long story but the hotel was previously a church and the hotel never changed that status.) Let's hope this is the last of the Chatwal crimes.
[Photo of Chatwal and Danziger via Rediff]
Hoteliers tend to be people with many interests—real estate, seaplanes, blondes. And, apparently, turtles. According to an article in the current New Yorker, hotelier Eric Goode is a major herpetophile—or, in English, a reptile geek—and has been collecting turtles since he was a little boy.
When he's not dashing between his Manhattan properties (The Bowery, The Jane, The Maritime), he likes to hang out at a five-acre turtle preserve he owns in Ojai, California. There, he recreates the turtles' natural habitat, quarantines newcomers, and even has workers whip up a special "chelonean carnivore gelatine" for them to eat. Yuk!
Though the New Yorker claims that Goode is alternating between two parallel lives, to us, it just seems like different sides of the same coin. If you can make a living pampering humans, why not turtles?
Tragedy has struck the luxe Rock House Hotel in Harbour Island, Bahamas. The hotel's designer, J. Wallace Tutt III, was found dead on Saturday morning in a grassy area of Harbour Island, known as The Narrows. He was just 53. Police are investigating the death but the AP reports that the hotel will close for a week.
Tutt transformed a rental villa and former schoolhouse in the Rock House Hotel in 2003. But Tutt, who was also responsible for the interior designs of houses owned by Gianni Versace and Cher as well as the Angler's Boutique Hotel in Miami, didn't turn this into some sleepy island getaway.
Do hoteliers pick their design team based on who they are sleeping with? We sincerely hope not. But we have a feeling that it does happen this way quite a lot.
While we absolutely love Edie on "How to Make It in America," it looks like partyboy/bisexual hotelier, Darren, may have only hired her design firm because he wants her partner and his girlfriend, Rachel, to move in with him.
On last night's episode Edie and Rachel gave a presentation to Darren and his partners for their "hottest new hotel on the Bowery" (those are Edie's words.) Edie envisions the place to be a "Moroccan Breakfast at Tiffany's", whatever that means. Edie also thinks the key to a successful hotel is the interchange between public and private spaces or as one of the partners puts it: "Ladies in the parlour, whores in the bedroom." Um. Ok.
Hoteliers / 2008 WiFi Report / Hotel WiFi Week 2008 / Best WiFi Hotels 2008 / Hotel WiFi / Elon Kenchington / Stephen Brandman / Niki Leondakis / Yvonne Lembi-Detert / → All Tags
In continuing our Hotel WiFi Week here at HotelChatter we decided to ask some of the hotel groups that made our Best Hotel WiFi list just why they have decided to offer complimentary internet for their guests.
Keep on reading to see what they have to say about the WiFi offerings in their hotels.
Here at HotelChatter we like to follow the lives--both professional and personal--of some of the world's most well-known hoteliers. So we just decided to list some of the hoteliers that we cover the most for your edification. In doing so, we realized there needs to be some more female hoteliers! If you know of a hotelier that's not on our list, send his (or hopefully her) name our way.
After making a mint at Starwood Hotels--including creating the W brand--Barry Sternlicht could've happily rode off into the hotel developer sunset, free from the prying eyes of people like us. But somehow, he decided to get back into the hotel game: He's got three hotel brands in the works.
The biggest deal in our mind is the "1" brand, scheduled to debut in Seattle in 2009. The aim is to make the hotel LEED certified as a green building, as is the plan with other "1" hotels in the future. Other properties are in the works for New York and DC.
The NYC project, the New York Times reports:
[Will] be called the "1" Hotel and Residences at Bryant Park, it will have dedicated hotel rooms through the 18th floor and residential units on the 19th through 31st floors. It is expected to open in the first half of 2010, and is being designed by Morris Adjmi.
But the brand won't focus on residential/hotel hybrids:
Mr. Sternlicht's third "1" hotel, in Washington at 22nd and M Streets, N.W., is in partnership with the local Perseus Realty Group. The hotel, which will have 180 rooms and no residential component, is expected to break ground in mid-2008 and open in 2010. More will follow in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Mammoth Lakes, Calif; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The first international "1" hotel will be in Paris.
Beyond all the hype around this brand, we'll also have to keep an eye on Sternlicht's other hotels: He's also at work on Baccarat Hotels and Resorts and Crillon, both of which could open soon.
[Photo: Sienna Architecture Company]
For Love or Money is perhaps the ultimate Movie Set Hotel of all-time.
Michael J. Fox stars as Doug Ireland, a concierge at a snooty luxury Manhattan hotel. Having no wealth of his own, he aspires to one day open his very own hotel. He even has an old and abandoned hotel picked out on Roosevelt Island.
The only problem is he needs to find an investor willing to put up the $3 million needed for the renovations.
Luckily or not so luckily, he finds an interested listener in financier Christian Hanover. And since this movie is about 14 years old, we don't really care if you've never seen it or not so we are going to spoil the plot for you.
A tipster named Charlie from the U.K. let us know that a TV actress named Bobbi Phillips is supposedly the woman responsible for bringing celebs to her hidden hotel in Mal Pais, Costa Rica.
Her hotel, Casa Chameleon (named after her most successful TV series) was recognized by Conde Nast in 2006 as one of the Best Hotels in the World.
There are TripAdvisor reviews on the place which are all glowing reviews--some suspiciously so like this one, "Let me just say as soon as I walked in our villa tears of joy just filled my eyes."
But Charlie is having no luck booking one of the four bungalows. He couldn't even find it on one of his recent trips to the area. But he did get some scoop on how celebs get brought in there.