Ian Schrager Believes Luxury Isn’t Just for Rich People Anymore


by Jackie Caradonio

Ian Schrager is rarely indifferent. The founder of the legendary nightclub Studio 54 and the mastermind behind some of hospitality’s most enduring hotels has reinvented his industry enough times to know that trends are fleeting—and rules were meant to be broken. Now, 34 years after opening his first hotel, the godfather of hospitality is taking a look at the changing face of luxury travel. Robb Report sat down with the innovator to find out how the modern hotel was born—and where its founder will take it in the future.

What did a luxury hotel look like when you opened the Morgans Hotel in 1984?

At that point in time, everything in the market was generic and institutional. You couldn’t tell the difference between one luxury brand and another. But the Morgans changed everything. It made sameness a vice and distinctiveness a virtue. It raised the notion that a hotel was more than just a place to sleep.

You invented the boutique hotel concept with the Morgans. What was the impetus for that?

Morgans was a very personal expression of what I myself wanted. There was no hotel that resonated with me at that time. There was nothing out there that manifested my popular culture, that told me the world was responsive to what was important to me.

How has the concept of a five-star hotel changed in the last 30 years?

When luxury first began to evolve, it was restricted only to the richest people. But now, everyone understands the concept of luxury, no matter where they come from or even how much money they have. I think that luxury is permeating every level of the industry. It’s not just reserved for five-star hotels anymore. In order to survive, every hotel is going to have to provide a “luxury” experience.


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