More than a Place to Sleep

I believe that the hotel business has descended to a commodity business. It has become generic; it has been institutionalized. The only opportunity for distinguishing your product from another company’s product is on price, like all commodities. That’s the myth of the brand. I don’t think that anybody stays in a hotel, except for perhaps Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton—which conjure up in your mind a whole bunch of anticipations—because of its name.

Therefore, we conceived our company on being an anti-brand, not being generic, not being institutional. There is something wrong when you stay at a hotel in Los Angeles and it is exactly the same hotel as when you go to London or Miami. A hotel should give a sense of time and place, and that basically was out opportunity. People like myself and my former partner Steve Rubell were able to meet with some success because there hadn’t been a new idea in the hotel business, I think, since Statler invented the modern hotel room and Portman in the 1960s came up with the atrium hotel.

The hotels in the USA are predicated on the mass-market model. There was a virtue in everything being the same. There was a virtue in coming up with an idea and ‘cookie-cutting’ it across the country. Those who are old enough may remember the Holiday Inn advertisement from a few years ago that said, ‘The best surprise is no surprise. For me, there is nothing better than a good surprise when you go into a hotel and can have fun there.

The reason that there aren’t any innovations in the hotel industry is because it is so capital intensive and the system doesn’t encourage new ideas. The financial institutions, which are a necessary part of any hotel development, are not interested in seeing new ideas; they are not interested in getting people excited about something, about walking right up to the edge and doing something that hasn’t been done before. They only want to see something that laready has been done—but perhaps in a different color or a different finish. They want to see something that is proven to be successful and just redo it. Nobody is really willing to go out there and do something that hasn’t been done before.

Well, that is what we’re trying to do, come up with something that hasn’t been done before. Treat a hotel as more than just a place to sleep—a place for somebody to have fun, a visual feast. Walk inside and see something that you haven’t seen before. Walk in the lobby and excite people, be able to cut the electricity in the air. Something indefinable, the same kinds of things that make you want to purchase a car or buy a house or pick a mate. Those are the kind of hotels I wanted to stay in. I wasn’t looking to do a hotel for a hundred million people. I was looking to do a hotel that I would like and, by chance, there would be other people out there who also would like it.

Izvor: Rutes, Walter, Richard H. Penner, and Lawrence Adams. Hotel Design: Planning and Development. Oxford: Architectural Press-Elsevier, 2007. Print. 32. | Autor: Ian Schrager


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