Housing crisis? Not on Balazs' watch. Recession or no, the crisply dressed hotelier is opening his fourth Standard hotel, a glass behemoth that literally straddles the defunct rail tracks (soon to be a birch-lined park) of the High Line in New York's Meatpacking District. If anyone can make it work, it's the man who—between the Mercer, the Chateau Marmont, and other properties too boutique to mention—has been sheltering the fashion and movie sets on both coasts for years. [Style.com]
BIO - Wikipedia
André Balázs is a New York City hotelier and residential developer.
A graduate of Cornell University as College Scholar and Columbia Graduate School. Balazs studied humanities at Cornell University, then got a masters degree in a joint journalism and business program at Columbia University. After college, he worked on a senate campaign and later founded a biotech company with his father. He subsequently became a developer and hotelier with the acquisition of famed Chateau Marmont in 1990.
Andre Balazs Properties, owns 8 hotels in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, including the Chateau Marmont, The Mercer, The Standard Hollywood, The Standard Hotel (The Standard has hotels in Downtown LA, West Hollywood, Miami, and New York which recently opened in Manhattan's Meatpacking District.), Sunset Beach and The Raleigh Hotel. His residential projects include 40 Mercer Residences in Soho, designed by architect Jean Nouvel; One Kenmare Square with Richard Gluckman and William Beaver House in New York's Financial District designed by Calvin Tsao.
André Balazs was a founding trustee of the New York Academy of Art, is currently a member of the board of directors of the New York Public Theater and Wolfsonian-FIU, and the recipient of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Design Patron Award.
BIO - Cityfile
Much like the granddaddy of the boutique hotel, Ian Schrager, Balazs knows how to cultivate a scene, albeit a rarified one. Marc Jacobs stays at the Mercer when he's not in Paris; when Rupert Murdoch needed a place to live several years ago while his SoHo apartment was under construction, he and wife Wendi Deng spent close to a year living in one of the Mercer's suites; and when Russell Crowe famously tossed a phone at a hotel employee, it was a poor Mercer staffer who walked away with the bruises. (Indeed, having such famous guests can be more trouble than it's worth: When Lindsay Lohan spent a year living at Chateau, there were repeated rumors that the hotel wanted her out on account of her "lifestyle.") [...]
For all his empire expansion, Balazs is simultaneously pruning his assets. In April 2008 he unloaded his Lindy Roy-designed Hotel QT in Times Square for $82 million; he sold the land that the Miami Standard sits on several months later (he continues to manage the hotel); and sold off the Raleigh in Miami in the fall of 2009. [...]
Until recently, Balazs lived in New Museum Building at 158 Mercer. (He sold the apartment for $10 million in 2007.) Outside the city, Balazs owns a 55-acre country house in upstate New York called The Locusts. END
Minimalist and Maximalist Style
Stop us if you've heard this one before: Two guys walk into a bar. One's dressed like a priest in mourning. The other's dressed like Elton John on speed. How can each claim to be the best-dressed man in the room? Because in matters of style and design, there will always be champions of simplicity (minimalists) and champions of excess (maximalists). [...]
"To get minimalism right, you have to work very, very hard or the result can be unattractive, cold, or even impersonal," says the owner of the Standard hotels in Los Angeles and Miami as well as New York's Mercer hotel. And Balazs gets it right, every time, by ensuring his properties have an airy, streamlined aesthetic--nothing fussy but no expense spared. Look for a gleaming new Standard in New York in 2009.
Two-button wool suit ($1,295) by Z Zegna; cotton shirt, Balazs's own, by Ermenegildo Zegna; silk tie ($160) by Salvatore Ferragamo; leather shoes, Balazs's own.
The 10 Most Stylish Men in America
Hotelier, Scene Magnet
If you’ve ever set foot on an André Balazs property—the legendary Chateau Marmont, say—you know his philosophy: Style isn’t about exclusivity or trends; it’s about honesty, authenticity, and above all else, comfort.
"I view myself as a very traditionalist hotelier, regardless of what kinds of labels get placed on me for this or that, or for my clientele. To me, what makes a hotel great doesn’t come from the Zeitgeist. The new Standard [hotel] in New York, for example, has what I call a familiar modernity. It’s not using design as a gimmick; it’s using design to achieve a purpose, a sense of emotional well-being. It’s the same with style. There’s a million ways to be stylish, as long as it’s true to the individual or the place. But comfort is the most important thing. Comfort is like happiness—who’s not looking for happiness?"
Trench coat, $1,695, by Burberry. Suit, $2,200, by Louis Vuitton. Shirt, $385, by Oumlil. Tie, $155, by Massimo Bizzocchi.
Style & Design: Visionaries
"I often compare putting a hotel together to old-time movie production," says André Balazs. "You come up with a story line, you hire the writer, the director, the stars, the set designer." [...]
The Influentials: Architecture & Design
André Balazs and Ian Schrager
Hoteliers turned developers
Together, they polished downtown to a lustrous sheen. Their hotels became blueprints for modern luxe living (when Rupert Murdoch decided to relocate downtown, he hired Balazs’s Mercer Hotel designer), and both are expanding in every direction. [...]
Andre Balazs and the Raleigh Hotel - interview
"I worked in journalism because I started a publishing company. And I worked in biotechnology because I started a biotechnology company. Really, I'm an entrepreneur, who, for a variety of reasons, found one area where my various other adjacent interests came together. I like starting things. I've always liked design, and I went to architecture school briefly. I went into nightclubs and restaurants before getting into hotels. I've thought about these earlier vignettes in my life and how they have come together. There's an element of journalistic aspect to the creation of a hotel, at least the ones we do. It involves researching and finding a story to the culture of the hotel." [...]
What is the essence of a good hotel?
I think the hotels that mean the most to people are the hotels that feel like home - like your own home. For me, how you achieve that feeling is really the whole point of being an hotelier. There are many different tools to doing that: visual tools, special tools, service tools, tone and the mix of people. That combination is what makes someone feel emotional about a hotel. A good hotel is one that makes you want to come back. [...]
Why is this (The Raleigh) a good gathering place for people who are interested in the Arts?
I think there's something about the hotel that is sophisticated and appeals to people who buy art or are artists. At the Chateau in L.A., we have a very longstanding, loyal clientele of writers, directors and the creative community. I feel there's something similar at The Raleigh. It's a mindset that takes you back. It's not an in-your-face attitude. It's casual. [...]
STANDARD HOTEL NY
The Standard NY - set
New York's Standard Hotel Hosts Storefront Art Auction - slideshow
Each year, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, a nonprofit New York-based organization founded in 1982 and committed to the advancement of innovation and emerging voices in architecture, art, and design, holds its annual spring benefit at a new, important architectural site. [via]
The Little Somethings Add Up
Mr. Balazs operates remorselessly stylish hotels in California, New York and Florida, and with them, a number of restaurants.
Yet none of them really established Mr. Balazs as a restaurateur. The Standard Grill, adjoining his Standard Hotel, does. The rambling menu doesn’t always cohere, and the waiters can be unequal to their jobs, but somehow none of that matters much. [...]
The Standard Grill - slideshow
Name Dropping: Bye-Bye to 'Boom Boom'
So what should we call the spanking-new penthouse bar atop the Standard, André Balazs’s hotel in the meatpacking district?
Last month, when Jeff Koons, Calvin Klein, Josh Hartnett and others toasted T’s fifth anniversary there, everybody was calling it the Boom Boom Room. But now we’re hearing that the name has been scrapped. QT is being tossed around as a possible alternative. To that, we say: ugh. [...]
Andre Balazs' Saturday Night Boom Boom Room Party
Andre Balazs is really becoming NYC’s sweetheart. With the explosion of the Boom Boom Room, he is basically sitting back and letting the stars swarm around his Standard Hotel. This Saturday he had a party at the bar, well, just cause. Naomi Watts, Griffin Dunne and Patrick McMullan stood out among the banquettes of beautiful people, but there is one girl about which we’re especially curious. A tipster tells us that the hotelier was spotted after this soiree, around 4:30 in the morning, walking down Broadway with a slim, cigarette smoking brunette clad in black. Just a stroll? Maybe, but we don’t hold hands with our friends…
Dakota at the Standard__[purple-diary.com]
IN 1999, Balazs opened the first Standard Hotel on The Sunset Strip directly across from the Chateau Marmont. Original investors of the hotel included Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Benicio del Toro, securing its status as one of the hottest spots in Hollywood.
The ultra-chic hotel was a perfect venue for Balazs' infamous experimentation with avant-garde notions of design, punctuated by a woman laying down behind the check-in counter sleeping behind a glass window. Since then, Balazs has opened Standard Hotels in Downtown Los Angeles, Miami Beach and, most recently, in New York City.
The Standard in New York is famous for its ominous modernist design, and its integration with the Hi-Line, an elevated railroad track that has been transformed into a sort of "park in the sky." Recently, The Standard has been in the news for the public sex acts that go on inside the rooms, and are clearly visible to the pedestrians down below. Rumor has it that Balazs is more than pleased with all the press the public sex has earned his hotel, and that he intended it all along. Why else would he build a hotel entirely out of non-reflective glass windows? [AskMen.com]
Hot Standard Hotel Staff Pose for Calendar Cheesecake
To promote the opening of the forthcoming Standard Hotel in New York, handsome hotelier Andre Balazs had a 2008 calendar made featuring some of his most photogenic employees. [...]
Stan D'Arde Blog
Walk of Shame!
The other morning while we were walking through the lobby of the The Standard, New York, we saw a breathtaking woman in a gorgeous white Calvin Klein dress and Christian Louboutin heels heading towards the front door. Although we thought it peculiar that she was so dressed up so early in the day, we still complemented her on her ensemble. She smiled coyly upon receiving our kind words, and replied "The dress looked better last night!" AH! It all made sense at that one moment. This young woman was about to embark on her Walk of Shame.
The Walk of Shame has been ongoing for centuries before us. This is when you are forced to go home after a night of unbridled passion with a love who you have taken at a place other than your own bedroom. In the morning, you must don the clothing which you had on the night before and make the trek home, knowing that everyone who sees you knows exactly what you have done. The feeling of embarassment is crippling. Your clothes are wrinkled because they were lying on the floor all night long. Your head is pounding because you indulged in one too many glasses of Dom Perignon. Your mouth feels like an ashtray because you didn't have a tootbrush on you. But now there is a solution to all your problems...
We'd like to introduce to you the Walk of Shame Kit. This kit is everything a young lady with a highly charged "personal life" will need to indulge in her nightly excursions. It comes equipped with a dress for the morning, flip flops to save your feet from those heels, a backpack, sunglasses, pre-pasted toothbrush, wipes, a call/don't call leave behind note card and a breast cancer awareness bracelet....and all of this for only $34.99. That's worth its weight in kisses if you ask us!
So no longer do you need to worry when going out on the town. The only thing you'll need to worry about is fitting the kit in your CHANEL Paris-Moscou bag. [WSK vid]
As the elusive blogger behind the Standard Hotel brand, Stan D’Arde is a man on a mission: to chronicle the chic things happening in New York, Miami, and L.A that would interest guests of the Standard. He writes about everything from racing bikes to racy restaurants, employing the royal “we” and exclamatory French as he goes. [Hamilton1883.com]
Well, I am proud to say that I have been to the Chateau Marmont on many occasions. In fact, I even spent my 29th birthday there in a bungalow with its own koi fish pond!!! I listened to the Beatles White Album and hung out on my very own patio, what a treat! This book is a wonderful escape into the private and not so private life of the Chateau. This wonderful hotel still has its 1926 flavor, yet with a hip new twist. The drawing room is still the most wonderful place on the premises and many stories in this book revolve around that very room. Legends, baby! This book, like the Chateau will never die, I will see to that. I agree with the last reviewer, Dominic Dunne writes about his experiences living in the Chateau's Hughes penthouse in the early 1970s. Truly magical, this book will delight and intrigue anyone who reads it. I love and miss the Chateau and plan to return very soon! Great book, great place!
BUILT IN 1890 as an office building for John Jacob Astor II, this landmark location was until recently home to shabby lofts for Soho artists...It is across the street from the Guggenheim Museum Soho and near all the galleries of SoHo. It is not far from Greenwich Village, Little Italy and Chinatown as well. The super chic restaurant The Mercer Kitchen is located in the basement. [HotelsoftheRichandFamous.com]
The Mercer - reviews
LOCATED at the intersection of Mercer and Prince in SoHo, The Mercer hotel is New York's first loft hotel and captures the very essence of the area. Lofts are a uniquely SoHo phenomenon, pioneered by artists in the 1960s who took over the neighborhood's many abandoned warehouses. Loft living is about sunlight and leaving the original architecture intact, and at The Mercer, brickwork is exposed, windows are industry size, and iron support columns run from floor to ceiling. It's one of the few New York hotels to boast wooden floors, and Christian Liaigre's spare furnishings are appropriately unobtrusive, because, as your downtown designer friend might say, the beauty of a place is in its empty spaces.
Walking into the lobby/library (not a gimmick—you can check the books out) is like walking into the apartment of that same designer friend of yours—pale leather screens, worn Turkish carpet, leather banquettes and low oval coffee tables. The rooms have a nice secular touch—no Bibles, just Paper magazine—while bathrooms feature stark white tiles, deliciously soft Frette towels and hip Face Stockholm beauty products. Ask for a room where the Scandinavian blonde wood partitions dividing bedroom and bathroom slide open and voila, you're having a soak just steps away from your plush, inviting bed. To be frank, the arrangement (the cube shaped tubs easily fit two) is conducive to frolicking, as are the huge walk-in showers and the six-foot mirrors. (Yes, there are complimentary mints and condoms alongside the shampoo.)
The neighboring Mercer Kitchen houses a bar, usually crammed with well-heeled Manhattanites gossiping, and sporting plenty of Prada-clad attitude, while the restaurant is French family dining, as interpreted by über-chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and is booked out weeks in advance.
Surprisingly, perhaps, The Mercer is a good hotel for families—babies can sleep in Frette-lined cribs, complete with toys—and while the staff may be well-dressed, they don't put on any airs: they'll get you anything from Assam teabags to a bikini wax in your room at two in the morning. You never have to step foot outside the Mercer for want of anything; and in New York terms, that is living at its most decadent. END
TripAdvisor Popularity Index: #24 of 418 hotels in New York City
WILLIAM BEAVER HOUSE
Me! Me! Me! All the Way Home
EVERYBODY has been telling me something I’m not too excited about. Namely, that to get a good deal on a new condo one has to commit to a space before the building has even been topped off. That explains why developers spend oodles of money not only on mock-ups of rooms but also on elaborate marketing plans that highlight future amenities — even if there’s not a corner deli in sight in the neighborhood.
Nowhere else does this seem to have been done with such élan as at the William Beaver House, André Balazs’s 47-story, 320-unit tower at 15 William Street in the financial district.
The building is where William and Beaver Streets meet — hence the name and the inspiration for the jaunty, cute, key-toting beaver that is the mascot of the project. [...]
Now water views are something I would give up lots of other things for, so I was sort of surprised when Calvin Tsao said without hesitation: “This building is absolutely not for you. Its target is a younger, more mobile community.”
He was right, I guess. But somehow, as soon as someone says that something is not for me, it just makes me all the more interested.
“Most of the units are small,” Mr. Tsao continued. “They are for people who travel, maybe not for families, as there’s nothing like Central Park near here, and the Battery is quite far. They are for a new generation that love living in hotel rooms.”
Now just hold on, Calvin, I wanted to shout. You may not know me all that well, but Calvin, that’s me! Me! Me! I love everything about hotels — especially room service, or any kind of service. And I’m particularly partial to Mr. Balazs’s hotels.
Mr. Tsao continued listing the building’s future amenities — and I was loving most of them: an upscale deli on the ground floor (that really caught my fancy); a spacious gym with an outdoor terrace; on-site parking and a garage; a screening room; an indoor pool; a covered dog run (with luck, our elderly cairn terrier will live long enough to enjoy it).
I loved, loved, loved all those things — and was not entirely immune to the handball court and half basketball court.
“The building is a vertically integrated village, a very self-sufficient place to live,” Mr. Tsao added, pointing out the comfy lounge area with its meandering sofas where I was enjoying my second espresso.
“We’re romancing the public areas — where people can interact,” he said, “and trying to create a lobby that’s a series of lounges you can use.” I get that — the large lobby where you can see the world come and go, as if you were a permanent guest in a grand hotel — a hip, modern grand hotel.
Maybe some of those mobile people who are on their way somewhere glamorous will be able to stop and interact with those of us who may be just over their age limit. [...]
Last night I went to the launch party for the William Beaver House--a ridiculously high-end residential building in the Wall Street area...
Uploaded Nov. 2006
...It seems all the wealthy progeny of New York's finest were there last night--obviously the future tenants of the abhorrently named building.
William Beaver House - official site
William Beaver House offers an original collection of 5-star hotel services and unmatched amenities:
__André Balazs designed Lobby Lounge, modeled after the world's great hotel lobbies
__24-hour doorman and concierge
__Terrace hot tub with outdoor shower
__Penthouse Sky Lounge with catering kitchen, private dining room and entertainment terrace, overlooking lower Manhattan, New York Harbor and the East and Hudson Rivers
__Large, professional screening room / dance lounge with wet bar
__Landscaped sundeck on 47th floor
__Indoor parking with valet
__Fully-equipped, indoor/outdoor fitness center
__Glass-enclosed lap pool with lounge-deck and bar
__Outdoor basketball court with bleachers
__Outdoor handball and tetherball courts
__Sauna & steam rooms
__Men's and women's locker rooms
__Refrigerated storage in lobby for perishable deliveries
__Covered outdoor dog run
Rendering / Reality: William Beaver House
Rendering / Reality is a Curbed feature that considers the often unsubtle differences between what a building or apartment looks like in its renderings, and what it looks like when they get around to building the thing.
William Beaver House, a new Financial District condominium building developed by star hotelier André Balazs...has really come far along. We'd rate the similarities to the rendering at a solid 70%. The yellow crap came out a little more "highway road markings" than "melted stack of butter," and we've yet to see any animé Wall Streeters and their Friday night conquests hovering near the construction site.
Oh, that's what that building is! I walk past it from time to time on my way to work and have wondered why so much of the exterior was still on back-order. I thought the yellow bits were place holders until the real exterior pieces showed up via UPS.
Hmmm. Interesting. Nope, doesn't work!
If you want to see UGLY - you should see this building from the Brooklyn Prominade - holy crap does it stand out.... For the longest time I thought the yellow was just construction stuff but it is actually going to stay!!! What the heck were they thinking?
A building with Beaver in its name that looks like God's giving NY a golden shower. No thank you.
That isn't yellow paint. It's yellow bricks. What makes it worse is that they used dark gray mortar between the yellow bricks. It looks like the Death Star wrapped in caution tape.
15 CPW cost a fortune to build (probably well over $1,000 sq ft). Beaver and it's little Karl cousins in W-Burg cost next to nothing (less then $500 sq ft.)
Just because one wants to save money doesn't mean a building has to turn out looking like straight ass. If they maybe had kept the color, aligned the windows, gotten rid of the yellow, added some horizontal or vertical flairs, we would have a building as beautiful as the Monadnock.
Funny, now that it is built it does look a bit like Pei's Hancock Tower in Boston after the wind blew out the windows...perhaps that was their design precedent.
So unbelievably ugly. Shocking that something that crappy can be built. The name, as noted by others, is ridiculous. It's like they hired a branding consultant who is in their mid-80s and has no clue that beaver may reference more than a loveable, dam building animal.
Calling All Eager Beavers: Your Swimmin' Hole is Ready!
As buyers started moving in to André Balazs's William Beaver House in the Financial District, we heard some gripes about the state of the amenities. What a difference a month makes! [...]
A skinny shallow indoor pool with a view of the building 20 feet across the street and no direct light is gloomy and depressing. They should have put it on the roof. Looks like a therapeutic pool in a hospital basement.
I picture fat guys sitting around the pool wondering when the hot models are going to show up.
Once the residents take over the condo board all the fat middle aged out of work wall street guys who bought these to boink mistresses at lunch can hire models to swim nude in the pool.
Looks identical to their marketing brochure...NOT!
This building is so ugly and out of place that I actually like it. That said, prices still need to drop 40%. In twenty years I think living in an amenity-laden, 2009 condo will be the ultimate ironic hipster accessory.
Agree that the only people moronic enough to buy in this building are fat guys that thought it would help them get laid by models.
I've been down at the William Beaver House 3 times now, and have rather closely followed the work on the amenities (and drop of the prices - am interested in renting). If you're not into contemporary-urban-Balazs' kind of style, then of course, you won't like WBH. But if you do like a design that's a bit different from either the glass-towers or that oh-so-boring classic-modern take, then I think it's a great building. And by the way, that photo shows the pool in a bad light - literally. I've seen the space (and gym), and it looks nice.
Core Sues William Beaver Developers
Core Group Marketing has filed suit against the developer of chic downtown condominium William Beaver House, claiming it is owed more than $220,000 in unpaid commissions for units sold at the building. [...]
RELATED__Room Mate Grace
Room Mate Grace - reviews
Formerly Hotel QT, the Grace is the Spanish Room Mate group’s first stateside outing — and it seems the stylish budget chain and the quirky Times Square boutique are a match made in heaven. While the name has changed, the idea remains the same: to offer something cheap but still chic, more inspiring and attractive than the chain motels but stylish enough to attract the right sort of patrons.
Though this is Times Square, you won’t see the usual tourists in souvenir shirts. Instead expect young arts-and-media types, up-and-coming musicians, and anyone else with Mercer style and a Holiday Inn budget. Youth hostels were one inspiration, but we’ve never seen a hostel with free wi-fi, flat-screen televisions, DVD players and Egyptian cotton bedding. Rooms for four are available, with twin bunk beds and an LCD screen in each bunk, perfect for a traveling band or four very close friends.
Other decidedly non-hostel perks include a swimming pool with underwater music and a swim-up window for ordering drinks from the bar. DJs play nightly in the lobby lounge, and there’s a 24-hour coffee bar for anyone exhausted by New York’s round-the-clock schedule. A continental breakfast is complimentary, and there’s even a sauna and a steam room. No restaurant, but given the location, you won’t go hungry for long.
With rates starting at around a hundred dollars for the simplest rooms, this is an excellent value, as cheap as some of the dismal motor inns and miles more stylish. And even if you’re not prepared to rough it, the penthouse at the Grace runs about as much as the most basic room at one of the tonier downtown hotels. END
[Pics via here & Flickr.com]
Hollywood Hotels Like Sunset Tower Are Hubs for Deal Making
THE Sunset Tower Hotel, once a dilapidated dump but now a power-broker capital in Hollywood, recently hired a detective. After all, a crime had been committed — at least in the eyes of its owner, Jeff Klein.
When US Weekly reported in August that Renée Zellweger and her new beau had guzzled Champagne in a Sunset Tower suite, Mr. Klein had a meltdown. The detective was hired and, soon, a room-service waiter was fired.
“He claimed he only told his mother,” Mr. Klein says. “I didn’t care. Gone!”
A New York society brat turned serious hotelier and restaurateur, Mr. Klein, 39, bought the Sunset Tower in 2004 and has transformed it partly by throwing out the handbook of how entertainment industry haunts are managed, especially in Los Angeles. A ban on media leaks about boldface business deals or celebrity frolicking is strictly enforced. Mr. Klein is also very careful about curating a clientele. Celebrities deemed out of place, including the rapper Sean Combs and Britney Spears, have been — gasp — turned away. [...]
For the Moment: Jeff Klein
This week’s guest blogger is Jeff Klein, the hotelier behind The City Club in New York and the Sunset Tower in Los Angeles. In his first post, Klein recalls his early fascination with the hospitality industry. To read all of Jeff Klein’s prior blog posts, click here.
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. [...]
UNDER Bernard Goldberg's aegis I discovered that the only way to run a successful hotel was to know how to do every job well. I began as a bellman and worked my way through all the departments, including housekeeping, room service and front desk reception. I eventually became the general manager of the hotel group and worked as the owner’s representative on the restoration of new hotels Mr. Goldberg had acquired. My experience with him was invaluable.
I was lucky to have started in earnest when I did. The 90’s were a great time to get a foothold in the changing landscape of the hotel business. Ian Schrager and Andre Balazs in particular were doing really interesting stuff by infusing a new aesthetic into an otherwise staid industry. I especially loved their trendy designs for lobbies and bar scenes. This “movement” in the hotel industry was unquestionably exhilarating, yet somehow I never became an acolyte.
I found many of the emerging boutique properties to be singularly focused on design and neglectful of the things that make a hotel experience memorable, like delicious food, brilliant service, great linens, etc. As much as I respected Mr. Schrager and Mr. Balazs and their contribution to the hotel business, César Ritz was more my speed, and I adopted his obsession with excellence, old-world elegance and flawless service. [...]
I HAVE learned to create the hotel experience around my customer. My guests tend to be titans of their industries, successful artists or just plain old busy people whose greatest luxury is time. These customers want an intimate relationship with their hotel, and quality and service are at the top of their list. With that in mind, 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.
It sounds like a cliché, but great service is really what sets great hotels and restaurants apart. Service must be charming, sexy, and most importantly, personalized. A great example of the service I strive for is Dimitri Dimitrov, the maitre d’ of the Tower Bar, the restaurant in the sunset tower hotel. Dimitri is truly an old pro. He remembers names and tables, even peoples’ personal tastes and allergies. He keeps it all in his head; no computer profile or anything silly like that. He is genuinely connected to the customers. In fact, we often make menu changes based on what Dimitri tells us what the clientele is asking for. There is no one like Dimitri. [...]