A new addition to his Chinese Edition
Renovated from a duplex of historical buildings by the Bund, of which one used to be a power station built in 1929, the new Shanghai Edition Hotel is the latest addition to real estate mogul and hotelier Ian Schrager’s portfolio of properties around the world.
The 145 rooms in this new establishment sport the same aesthetics as the other Edition hotels, with high ceilings and minimalistic furniture adding to the sense of spaciousness. The only decoration found in the private spaces are black and white works of Wing Shya, director Wong Kar-wai’s exclusive set photographer.
True to Schrager’s belief that hotels should always be a fun and social environment, the Shanghai outpost comes with nine restaurants and bars, among which are dining establishments by Michelinstar chef Jason Atherton.
Despite his reputation as a hip hotelier, the 72-year-old New Yorker says that his hotels aren’t built solely for the millennial generation, or any generation in particular. Instead, this new hotel in Shanghai, which features a partnership with Marriott International, simply exemplifies his passion to grow Edition into “the best lifestyle hotel brand” in the world.
Schrager spoke to China Daily USA during his recent trip to Shanghai for the opening of the hotel.
This was an opportunity that came from Marriott. This building has an unusual architecture and I was drawn to the challenge of turning it into a hotel.
Shanghai is a city that is booming with energy. What has happened here over the past 20 years is just mind-boggling. There is nothing you can read in the United States that prepares you for this. You have to come and see it yourself.
This city may become the world capital one day. New York has had this title for a long time, and Shanghai may be the next. It’s a place that anybody can come and achieve a marvelous accomplishment, no obstacle, wide open, while it is now more difficult in New York. I don’t find inspiration from hotels. We simply come here to do a hotel that is a microcosm of the city. We want to make subtle references to the local culture. It is almost as if someone comes to your house, and you give him a cup of tea and he knows where you come from.
It’s like when we do a hotel in London, I don’t have to have a man in a big black furry hat and red coat standing outside greeting people. If I am doing a hotel in New York, I don’t have to sell Empire State Building statues in gift shops.
There are other subtle and sophisticated ways of being gracious to local culture, and staying true to who we are.
I think there is a universal standard to good taste and stylishness. Not everyone has to get it. But when they do, they fall in love and resonate with it.
I don’t refer to demographics. I use sensibility. I think demographics is a marketing research term, like when people often ask me about millennials. I don’t do hotels for millennials, just like how Steve Jobs doesn’t do telephones for millennials. The iPhone is used by people who are 15 and also 80.
If the sensibility and sophistication are right and good, the hotel appeals to everybody, just like the way a good meal, a good movie or a good song does.
It’s one that makes you feel good. Guests should feel that there are people who care whether they have a good sleep, a good shower, or a good breakfast. It’s not rocket science. It’s what your parents teach you about treating someone who comes to visit your home.
We believe in simplicity. Real simplicity. Invisible design. It’s hard to do something simple, just like it’s hard to write a short story.
Being simple also shows a kind of confidence. You don’t have to throw every idea out there. It takes more efforts to choose one out of a million than to showcase everything you have.
They do have certain tastes that are unique to the culture. Like when Chinese parents are on vacation, they don’t leave their children alone like the Americans. So you just have to include facilities by the kid’s play area that make the parents feel comfortable. Every culture is different. People in Spain don’t eat dinner till 10 o’clock.
There are differences between people. I am not intimidated by those differences. It’s just a question of how and whether you figure them out.
It’s not really difficult. That’s part of the puzzle, and it’s fun. It also makes sense to have different hotels in different cities instead of copying and pasting the same lobby and same menu.
Essentially, everyone is still human. We all share the same human condition and appreciation for smiles and care, for fine touches of physical objects, and for the beautiful things in life.
It’s not only because of the population here, but also because of the number and potential number of travelers coming to the country.
I would like it to dominate the lifestyle hotel space. I am never interested in having the biggest hotel company in the world. I am driven by an ideal. Money is just a consequence.
I want to be the best. I want to do lots of hotels, with every new one being better than the last. And I want to say that these individualized hotels are what people want. They don’t want the same, generic, institutionalized hotels all over the world. It’s not only the young people — everyone wishes for this.
Beijing, which would be much trickier than Shanghai. Shanghai is an international city and more familiar to me. Beijing, on the other hand, is more different and I would have to tone down a little bit to make sure my creativity would not be offensive. But Beijing is not yet on the timetable. We now have Shenzhen and Wuhan in the pipeline.