We’re kind of falling in love with Lloyd Grove’s rambling, sprawled interviews with business celebrities on Portfolio.com. This week, he sits down with Ian Schrager, who is two years into his massive partnership with Bill Marriot, the hospitality king, to build 100 chic hotels worldwide. Below, we’ve selected some of our favorite moments with the man who brought you the Delano, the Hudson, the Royalton, the Shore Club, the new Gramercy Park Hotel, 40 Bond Street, and that little club he used to run in the late seventies…
• On the destruction of his legendary Philippe Starck lobby in the Royalton Hotel by his Morgans successors, who replaced it with a dark-amber jewel box this year: Uh, you know, I think it’s nice. Um, I can’t second-guess what those guys had in mind. I had no emotional attachment to it, quite frankly. But I think from a business point of view, I would’ve done something different. But I don’t know what criteria they were using and why they did it. And I think it was a very risky move … But basically we liked to think that what we did was classic and timeless and would stay, even though it was incredibly provocative. I mean, I’ve never changed any of my other lobbies.
• On his surprise about the legend that Studio 54 has become: It is a myth. I think people remember things better than the real thing.
• On his and partner Steve Rubell’s fall from greatness after the tax-evasion scandal that killed Studio 54: Well, we think we were good guys who got intoxicated and lost our way, did something stupid. You know, we were guys from Brooklyn, didn’t have any money, we kept our values intact, and we remained friends with the same people. We loved our parents and family. But we just got intoxicated with the whole thing and did stupid things. I think we’re proof that the system works.
• On his fellow hotelier and sometime competitor André Balazs: Good. He does a good job, a credible job. I think for the people out there that are doing these kinds of hotels, these genre hotels, he probably does the best job. There are others that are good as well. I think there’s a group out in California called Kor that does a good job. I think Jason Pomeranc does a credible job. Take two people in my business that I admire the most of anyone in the world, Keith McNally in New York and Jean Louis Costes in Paris.
There’s much more in the interview, including bits about Steve Rubell and Roy Cohn. But the discussion of his yet-to-be-designed 8,500-square-foot penthouse at 40 Bond kind of made us want to hang ourselves from our pitiful bedroom compression wall, so we don’t necessarily recommend it.
The World According To Ian Schrager [Portfolio]