Almost a year ago, Ian Schrager entered his latest act—The Observer is not sure whether this counts as his fifth or sixth or tenth act at this point—which promised two new hotel chains, as well as “bikini boot camps.” While there is no sign of the latter, Bloomberg is reporting that Mr. Schrager has purchased two sites in the city that he is preparing to transform into budget boutique hotels befitting his new Public brand.
The first Public hotel just opened in Chicago, and he has an eye on one in London, at the Crowne Plaza. Now comes his triumphant return (again!) to Manhattan, buying up two undisclosed plots somewhere in the city—recession be damned!
“Of course it’s easier to open a hotel when the economy is strong, but we aren’t trying to time it,” Mr. Schrager said. “I opened my first hotel in New York when interest rates were 22%. We’re not in the timing business. We buy fundamentally sound investments.”
In New York, new supply may also put pressure on room rates. Sixteen hotels are scheduled to open in Manhattan in 2012, and at least 18 are slated to come on line in the following three years, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. More than 65 hotels are in the pipeline with unspecified opening dates, the firm said.
“There’s already pricing pressure in New York,” Mr. Schrager said. “But there’s always an opportunity to get market share. It’s not unlike Steve Jobs. When he came up with his hardware, the market was already full of products, but he did something special. There’s always business in New York. It’s just a question of getting it to your hotel.”
Mr. Schrager made his exit from New York hospitality in 2005, when he left the Morgans Hotel Group, which helped launch the boutique hotel trend, and last year, he split with Aby Rosen at the Gramercy—though he was still very busy, developing luxury housing projects like 40 Bond and striking deals with Marriott and other corporate clients.
The party doesn’t stop until Ian Schrager says so.