Ian Schrager’s very public luxe hotel evolution

Forty years after redefining nightlife with the legendary New York City nightclub Studio 54, the hotelier and real estate developer Ian Schrager’s newest leisure vision is a case study to adore.

“PUBLIC is a new take on what matters for people—people don’t care about the gold buttons or if coffee is served in bone china” Schrager explains. “We offer luxury without it being obsequious” and the target group is literally all of us. This new kind of affordable luxury, with rooms starting at $200 a night, PUBLIC New York is”geared to the tech-savvy Airbnb set—who are taking a growing bite out of hotel bookings” reports Quartz.

At that price, the new brand is playing the same field as some of the highest valued hotel brands, and particularly their fewer-frills “select service” hotels, which have thus far weathered the exodus to Airbnb relatively well.

“Guided by a brand mantra of luxury for all PUBLIC fills a gap in the select service hotel market—chains such as Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, and Hyatt Place, that, unlike “full service” hotels, may not offer restaurants or other amenities. This has lately been the most profitable space in the hotel industry: In 2015, select service hotels in the United States reported a gross operating profit margin of 44% of their total operating revenue, compared to the industry average of 37.5% according to the hotel market data firm STR”.

“I thought very simply put, if you can add some exciting food and beverage, which we can do, if you can add some great style and be visually provocative and you can add great service—which is critical to the whole idea—and you could all make that available at a very accessible price that anybody could afford, it was just a great idea” Schrager told the travel industry intelligence company Skift.

For PUBLIC doormen, bellhops and porters are obsolete. Guests can order food from their rooms and pick it up on the shelf of each floor within five minutes time and 50 people run this revolutionary take on luxe for less. Public features 367 guest rooms, two restaurants, three bars including a rooftop terrace, and a multimedia performance space that can be configured for film screenings and theatre performances, talks and readings, art exhibitions and dance parties. It also contains a number of private apartments with interiors designed by John Pawson. Last but not least, the PUBLIC’s “tough luxe” was designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architecture firm that Schrager also collaborated with for the luxury residential condo 160 Leroy.

“PUBLIC is designed for a generation of savvy entrepreneurs; the hotel blurs lines between social, professional and cultural spaces with serene, light-filled, public venues with amenities to support optimal productivity and social interaction. A natural extension of Schrager’s experience in nightlife and boutique hotels, PUBLIC includes two dining hubs, three bars, and an underground arts space complete with screening room and theater. On the ground floor, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant group runs two restaurants: PUBLIC Kitchen’s menu includes wood fired pizza, dim sum, hot pastrami sandwiches, and hotdogs with locally sourced ingredients, while LOUIS’s grocery offers prepared foods, coffee, and a cafe menu with counter service” reports Quartz.

40 years after Studio 54  Schrager still know how to party redefining our lifestyle in smart, efficient ways. “We want to disrupt the hotel space again” Schrager says to Dezeen. “We did it 25 years ago when we introduced boutiques to the world. Everybody greeted that with a lot of scepticism and it took a long time for it to take hold. I think now, again, during this period of time there is another dislocation in the market place. The idea of luxury has changed. It’s no longer about how much something costs, it’s about how it makes you feel.”

“Airbnb is having an impact,” he said. “Airbnb are already indicating their ambitions to open more hotels, and offer more and more services. The thing to do is those things that Airbnb won’t be able to do, which is communal and social aspects of staying in a hotel, and all the other exciting entertainment that we can offer that they can’t. They don’t offer social experiences.”

“When we introduced the lifestyle hotel 25 years ago we made the lobbies beehives of activity. We weren’t thinking of Airbnb when we did that, we were thinking ‘hey, it just makes sense that when you’re staying in a hotel, why not just go right downstairs to the best restaurant and the best bar in town, why not offer a microcosm of the best that a city has to offer right downstairs in the public spaces? Now that idea seems even more compelling and relevant to me, with the advent of Airbnb, because they cannot offer the social/communal aspect that hotels can offer.”

Check the revolution here