Triumph of Design Over Function III

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has a report in yesterday’s edition headlined “The death of the design hotel?”. The article quotes Ian Schrager as saying that the “The design hotel, all minimalism concealed lighting and stark white spaces, has had its day”. He goes on to say that ‘It’s over for design hotels, what once was the exception is now the rule. It doesn’t interest me any more. I’m trying to change the game again.” His comments seem set to contrast the minimalist themes that prevailed in his first hotels to the “art hotel” that he is slated to open in August in New York’s Grammercy Park.

Few would question Schrager’s observation. While his hotels have enjoyed a spectacular run seemingly by design, no pun intended, some of his more recent creations such as the Hudson in New York City leave a lot to be desired by way of functionality. In the early 90’s, offering less as more was highly rewarding with the design hotels hotels. But fads are not trends. A hotel has to be a hotel first and design statement next. Whether the customer is a Gen X or Gen Y or somewhere in between, hotels that fail the service and standards test will eventually lose out. Minimalism may be okay for art but won’t cut it for hotels.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.