The culture of nightlife and the culture of hotels is about to change. For years, we have discussed the advantages of nightlife finding a protective home in the bosom of a hotel, with all its services, amenities, insurances, lobbyists, lawyers and all that expensive stuff that operators in non-hotel-based joints need to pay for on their own. Hotels are more than ever before driven by their food and beverage establishments. Plus, they come packed with rooms filled with guests who have the best money there is: vacation money.
Vegas has taught everyone that vacation money flows faster than the local variety. The rebirth of Nevada’s desert paradise was built on a shift from hawking gaming to emphasizing the attractions of their clubs and entertainment.
In New York, Ian Schrager drove home the concept of boutique hotels. The Gansevoort took it to new heights with its roof pool and exclusive Provocateur lounge. Food and beverage was driving its whole shebang. Andre Balasz took it all to the next level with The Standard. But lately, Morgans Hotel Group, with its new Mondrian and re-energized Hudson, has upped the ante.
The collaboration between TAO Strategic Group and the Chatwal father-son team of hoteliers redefines the art and the business of both nightlife and hotels. It is a game changer. The Chatwals, fronted by the fabulous Vikram, have had success with their Dream Hotel uptown, the Stay, and many others. They have pushed their nightlife/restaurant program to drive their places. Greg Brier operated Amelia and Aspen Social Club, designed by me and mine. He has had some success with Aspen, which is still under his control. Greg is my boy, but he isn’t TAO Strategic Group. To list all of TAO Strategic’s properties would require that second cup of coffee, so I’ll just offer some: Marquee (NYC and Vegas), Lavo (NYC and Vegas) Tao (NYC and Vegas), and Avenue. They are entwined in Beauty & Essex, Stanton Social, and even Artichoke Pizza. There’s projects everywhere that are hush-hush for a minute. Now, the Chatwals, with all their connections and experience and desire, have turned to them to make the food and beverage drive for their new Dream Downtown. It will take a dozen articles to describe what I saw when Noah Tepperberg showed me the place yesterday. Construction workers for contractor Carlo Seneca, who for my money is the go-to guy for this high-end construction work, were scurrying around to get it done. Private events start early next week, with the magnificent roof due on the 15th. Carlo will finish. His team takes pride in their work and he’s a guy who says “I’ll make it work” far more often than “I’m not sure I can.”
Noah told me about players to be named later, to help sell the place. He doesn’t need them. I’ve heard these names on the street, even though Noah wasn’t talking, and they’re all major, but the place is the perfect place at the perfect time with the perfect operators, and in the perfect location.
The pool is unreal. Noah says it’s perfect for at least 5 hours a day. The staff was being trained as I toured, and were all bright and eager. The design is genius. The one thing that was emphasized to me was that it wasn’t the attached-at-the-hip Maritime Hotel. Both places have those unique porthole windows. The dream team of designers/architects at Handel chose to clad the building in super-chic metal and bring back the ‘hole’ theme throughout. Most noteworthy are the holes at the bottom of the swimming pool, which has lobby-goers looking above. It’s the place the stuff that dreams are made of.