With fierce business brains and keen eyes for style and aesthetics, a few men have built hotels that are more than just rooms for visitors; they are New York partying institutions.
Visitors and locals alike mingle in their lobbies, sip cocktails in the bar, swim on the roofs, dine in the restaurants, and when they are tired…crash in the bedrooms.
They are the wealthy, kings of glamor and rulers of nightlife in Manhattan.
Title: Chairman and Chief Executive Office of the Ian Schrager Company
Portfolio: Schrager used to own Studio 54 and Palladium, famed disco clubs of the 1970s, but has now moved on to bigger and better projects. Manhattan hotspots, 50 Gramercy Park North and Gramercy Park Hotel are his, and he recently completed 40 Bond, a residential facility that 'redefines luxury living.'
How he got started: After a few years in jail for income tax evasion and obstruction of justice, Schrager set his sights on opening a nightclub. And then something great happened for the hotel industry: he couldn't get a liquor licence. So he set his sights on hotels instead. He is now known as the pioneer of New York's boutique hotel scene.
Why he's successful: recognising that modern people want a comfortable place to stay while they travel, Schrager created hotels that were more than just rooms. Before Schrager, people did not socialize in the lobby, they did not drink in hotel bars, and they did not go to hotels that were also theatres, spas, and clubs. It's hard to imagine that those hotel qualities didn't always exist, but Schrager pioneered them all.
Title: Co-owner of Thompson Hotels
Portfolio: 60 Thompson is Pomeranc's Manhattan flagship. Now the company boasts five properties in New York City, two in L.A. (including the exclusive Hollywood Roosevelt where Prince has played acoustics in the hotel bar), and hotels in D.C., Chicago, and Toronto. Watch out London and Seoul: you are next on Pomeranc's hit list.
How he got started: After law school, Pomeranc decided he wanted to do something a bit more fun. He decided to build a company on his belief that people are 'still looking for unique lifestyle statements, and they are looking to experience hospitality in a unique way.' With that in mind, he created forward-thinking, constantly evolving spaces to provide a sense of 'escapism' for his customers.
Why he's successful: Pomeranc says he treats 'every customer as a rock star and every rock star as a customer.' He goes out of his way to make guests feel at home - Pomeranc once famously flipped burgers for an actor craving a barbecue - and keeps them wanting more.
Alex Calderwood of Ace Hotel has a brand so popular, there is a special-edition converse shoe for it
Title: Founder and Partner of the Ace Hotel chain.
Portfolio: Wild Ace, as he is fondly called by Blackbook, set-up shop in Seattle with the first Ace Hotel. After expanding to Portland and Palm Springs, Calderwood opened up his newest crash pad in Manhattan's trendy Chelsea district (29th and Broadway) last year. Oh and before all this, he launched a men's grooming shop, called Rudy's Barbershop, which now boasts over a dozen stores on the West Coast.
How he got started: Alex and his friends, Wade Weigel and Doug Herrick, dreamed of opening a hotel where people they socialized with - DJs, artists, magazine creators, musicians, and other creative types - would want to stay. They inserted a neighbourhood culture into their hotel and attracted nearby residents who felt like they were plugged into the local scene. The brand is so popular, it even has its own special-edition Converse shoe.
Why he's successful: 'Any new hotel can make bold statements and win PR hype when it launches - but it takes word-of-mouth recommendations to make a business flourish,' says Calderwood. Give your guests a positive vibe and a little buzz, and watch them do your PR work for you.
Title: Co-owner and Partner, Gansevoort Hotel Group LLC
Portfolio: When the meatpacking district was still a dodgy place, with prostitutes on the corner and rotting meat on the street, Achenbaum wanted to 'build an oasis in a desert.' After his original Hotel Ganesvoort became one of the hottest hotels in New York, he set his sights on a Park Avenue hotspot with a three-level roof. He also manages an international gem on Provo Island in the Caribbean.
How he got started: After a short career in finance, he turned his focus to building an urban playground for his clients. To attract customers in New York's competitive hospitality market, he went above and beyond: he built one of the first roof top pools, introduced the wide open atrium, and designed a large ballroom. Even now, he tries to stay ahead of the curve with $8 million renovations on his buildings.
Why he's successful: It's all in the details. Achenbaum tells us, 'I care most about what the customer's experiences are, and I'm incredibly detailed oriented. While I'm in my own home I'm not the neatest person in the world, but I can't walk through the (hotels) without shifting, moving, cleaning things because I want it perfect for my clients.'
Title: Co-owner (with Eric Goode) over independent hotels
Portfolio: Along with The Bowery Hotel, MacPherson co-owns and operates The Park Restaurant, The Maritime Hotel (including Matsuri restaurant, La Bottega restaurant, and Hiro nightclub), The Jane, The Waverly Inn, and The Lafayette House.
How he got started: Originally born in New Zealand, MacPherson moved step-by-step into the hospitality world. His first business was a bar, then he opened a restaurant, then a hotel followed by another hotel. Now he is thought to be one of New York's most creative hoteliers, bringing his 'Brand of cool California urbanism' wherever he goes. MacPherson, along with his partner Goode, renovates diamond in the rough buildings and transforms them into 'it' venues.
Why he's successful: MacPherson is obsessed with detail and design, which has helped transform his creations into works of art. He is behind every décor decision, even picking out door knobs himself.
Title: Co-owner (Sean MacPherson) over independent hotels
Portfolio: See previous slide on Sean MacPherson.
How he got started: A San Francisco native, Goode launched his career at the age of 26 with Area, a nightclub famous for its décor changing every six weeks. His first hotel was the Maritime in Manhattan which cost the four partners $19 million to buy and $13 million to restore.
Why he's successful: Goode has an eye for conservation. He spots historical buildings in trendy neighborhoods and transforms them into visually stunning venues. And this talent is not confined to hotels - his closest passion for turtles drives numerous environmental conservation projects.
Title: Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the JK Hotel Group
Portfolio: Klein's beloved hotels include The City Club - and its award-winning DB Bistro Moderne, in New York and the Sunset Tower - with its popular Tower Bar where guests can dine a la gorgeous view - in Los Angeles.
How he got started: Starting his career at the Gotham Hospitality Group, Klein quickly learned he wanted properties of his own. In 2001 he launched his Manhattan property before he moved on to the West Coast. Accustomed to a life of luxury as a socialite, Klein made sure his hotels had a reputation for impeccable wining and dining venues.
Why he's successful: Klein uses historical references in his architecture to create iconic, elegant environments that would suit Jackie Kennedy or Audrey Hepburn. 'I loathe the concept of boutique hotels,' he says. 'I want to create places for people who want something more sophisticated than a nightclub in the lobby. I'm not interested in hotels as theatre.'
And it's a clever business decision - classic never goes out of style.
They might be the hardest partying entrepreneurs, but they're certainly not the wealthiest. Check out:
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