Can the Founder of Studio 54 Make Times Square Cool?

Can the Founder of Studio 54 Make Times Square Cool?

Bloomberg March 11, 2019

Just a few months ago, Vice News published a story with a provocative headline: The Coolest Place to Get a Drink in Midtown Manhattan Is the New Taco Bell.

The title was tongue-in-cheek, but it speaks to a broader truth: Midtown Manhattan has never been a bustling epicenter of places you’d want to be. Enter Ian Schrager, the visionary behind the original midtown hotspot, Studio 54. Tomorrow, his latest collaboration with Marriott International Inc., Times Square Edition, opens with 452 rooms, two restaurants by Dovetail and Narcissa’s John Fraser, and yes, a boundary-pushing nightclub—all in a 42-story tower that hovers high above the area’s supersized billboards.

The hotel is the ninth for Edition, a brand whose minimalist-chic aesthetic has always served as a monochromatic backdrop for beautiful, tan, and well-dressed guests. It’s also the latest project to bear Schrager’s signature—the septuagenarian is credited with inventing the boutique hotel in the 1980s with Morgans Hotel Group, and his most influential properties have included Miami’s Delano Hotel, the Mondrian in West Hollywood, and the democratic, yet design-forward Public in New York’s Lower East Side.

But even for someone of Schrager’s magnitude, making Times Square cool—and luring Manhattanites to the neighborhood they most love to hate—is a tall order.

“I’ve always met the same skepticism,” Schrager tells Bloomberg on a recent first-look tour of the hotel, ahead of its official opening. “This time they’re skeptical that we would be able to attract in-the-know New Yorkers to Times Square. But I’ve done that so many times,” he adds, referring not just to Studio 54 but to the Royalton Hotel on 44th Street and the Hotel Paramount on 46th, with its famed Whiskey bar. “Times Square is absolutely not an issue,” he says defiantly. “For New Yorkers, as long as there’s a good product, they will go anywhere.”

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