Ho­tel icon thinks that com­mu­nal liv­ing is the fu­ture

The News-Times (Sunday) - - Business -

The next big dis­rup­tor in hos­pi­tal­ity, ac­cord­ing to Ian Schrager, is co-liv­ing spa­ces.

“Com­mu­nal liv­ing is blur­ring the dis­tinc­tion be­tween res­i­den­tial and ho­tels,” the hote­lier and Stu­dio 54 co-founder ar­gued dur­ing Bloomberg’s Year Ahead: Lux­ury con­fer­ence in Man­hat­tan last week.

The mas­ter­mind be­hind the Pub­lic Ho­tel urged au­di­ences to look at mil­len­nial buy­ing statis­tics as ev­i­dence of this trend, which has seen growth in so-called “co­l­iv­ing” where res­i­dents buy into fur­nished, semi-ser­viced apart­ments ei­ther by the unit or by the bed­room. Th­ese are sort of com­munes for dig­i­tal no­mads with pop de­sign, Casper mat­tresses, Nest ther­mostats, and other cov­etable ac­cou­trements of the startup set.

“When I was growing up I couldn’t wait to get a car!” Schrager said, com­par­ing mil­len­ni­als’ lack of in­ter­est in cars to their evolv­ing liv­ing habi­tats. “Now, my daugh­ters don’t want a car.” Re­ly­ing on Uber and Lyft or car-shar­ing pi­lots from Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes was once un­think­able — now it’s de rigeur. “It’s just things are changed,” he says.

Schrager kicked off the af­ter­noon sum­mit, a first for the life­style group Bloomberg Pur­suits, which fo­cused on the lat­est data and in­no­va­tion in the fields of fash­ion, travel, din­ing, au­tos, well­ness, real es­tate, the arts, and de­sign. He urged at­ten­dees, which in­cluded CEOs from brands such as Equinox, Shi­nola, Harry’s, and Os­car de la Renta, to think about lux­ury at an ac­ces­si­ble cost.

“Lux­ury is not a price point. It’s a state of mind,” he said. Com­mu­nal liv­ing is just the lat­est ex­am­ple of a trend he’s been see­ing — and set­ting — for the last 40 years: gath­er­ing a va­ri­ety of peo­ple to­gether for a semi-demo­cratic, group ex­pe­ri­ence. “At Stu­dio 54 you had reg­u­lar peo­ple next to celebri­ties. Ev­ery­one was there to have a good time. Clubs and ho­tels can bring high art to the reg­u­lar peo­ple ¦and take the pre­ten­sion out of art.”

(But he’s not go­ing to de­sign ho­tels specif­i­cally for mil­len­ni­als: “You think Ap­ple does phones for mil­len­ni­als?”)

“Lux­ury is not about gawk­ing at wealth,” Schrager ex­plained. “White gloves, brass but­tons — all that is ir­rel­e­vant and mean­ing­less to peo­ple — it’s about an ex­pe­ri­ence.”

It was a sen­ti­ment shared by Suzanne Co­hen, Mar­riott’s vice pres­i­dent of lux­ury brands in the Amer­i­cas, while speak­ing on a later panel. Yet while Schrager might rely on in­stinct in his de­signs, Mar­riott is re­ly­ing on Big Data in ser­vice of Big Ex­pe­ri­ence.


Ian Schrager, founder and chair­man of Ian Schrager Co., speaks dur­ing the Bloomberg Year Ahead in Lux­ury sum­mit in New York last week.

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