Ian Schrager is widely regarded as the founder of the boutique hotel, but his real roots were in the world of nightclubs where he was a co-founder of the legendary New York club, Studio 54. His first foray into hotels was the Morgans Hotel in New York. The Morgans Hotel Group spread its wings opening cult boutique hotels in all the cities it landed in: the Delano in Miami, the Sanderson in London and the cult Mondrian in LA, amongst others. After leaving the Morgans Group in 2005 Schrager collaborated with Julian Schnabel on the Gramercy Park Hotel and has now turned his hand to turning round the big hotel chains, the EDITION venture with Marriott has seen openings in Istanbul with London due to open this year. 2011 saw Schrager launch a new hotel, Public, under his own name in Chicago, which was received with critical acclaim.
Here Ian Schrager talks to Hg2 about boutique hotels, provocative design and innovation:
You’re known as the ‘daddy’ of boutique hotels globally, which is quite a handle. What or who originally inspired you to follow this field?
There was no hotel that existed that reflected my generation or culture at the time. Steve Rubell, my partner, and I sought to create this.
One of the main aspects you’re said to have brought is the ‘home away from home’ concept, or an ‘office away from the office’ even. What are your essential ingredients for creating such a taste?
It’s all about comfort and functionality.
Boutique hotels arrived in the 80s but the title’s been banded around so much that now it’s become a bit stretched. What so-called boutique hotels do you rate? And what sets them apart from the masses?
Any hotel with a specific point of view and an alternative to what is offered. The bigger hotel chains try to be all things to all people—and when they do this, they lose individuality.
What is it about our culture today that made you think such options were necessary for the hotel market?
Everything always needs to be updated: your clothes, the cars you drive, the appliances you use. It was obvious to me that the hotel industry was stagnant and needed something new.
EDITION has hotels planned for Manhattan, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, LA, Miami Beach and Gurgaon in India. Could you please give us three words that sum-up the design focus?
Original, alternative, provocative, comfortable.
PUBLIC is your other current project – the Chicago outpost having opened late last year. These are said to present the ‘inclusive rather than the exclusive’. Does that translate to affordable luxury? And what can customers expect from such?
Great service, great innovation, great value, exciting entertainment options with no sacrifices…for everyone.
You have some great new design plans for the hotel market. Where do you see the industry heading over the next ten years?
I see a backlash against over design.