Boutique Hotel Godfather Ian Schrager On His Celebrity Competition

“We didn’t make the product — the product made us,” Ian Schrager told The Observer about becoming a famous hotelier.

What does the godfather of boutique hotels think of the latest wave of aspiring celebrity hoteliers, Robert De Niro, Giorgio Armani and Jay-Z?

“I think when people hear Jay-Z’s name, they have a certain level of expectation of the kind of music they’re going to hear. I don’t think they have a lot of expectation about what kind of hotel they’re going to get,” he said.

“If all these well-known celebrities do indeed come out with good products and provide good experiences, you know, they’ll be very, very successful,” he added. “I don’t think the branding in and of itself is enough. It’s just sort of a platform and a jumpstart in getting things going.”

Mr. Schrager has a number of things going himself these days, including his collaboration with Bill Marriott for a new chain of trendy inns around the world. The New York Post reports these properties could be called “Schrager Hotels.”

How that’s for name-branding?

“I suppose when a well-known person puts their name on something, it’s a good business strategy and probably an enhancement and probably gets things started quicker and probably gets attention,” he said.

Mr. Schrager also has plans for some new hotels along 10th Avenue in Chelsea.

“For me, it was a logical progression from the nightclub business,” the former co-owner of New York’s iconic club Studio 54 explained of his foray into the industry. “It was really the same goal, looking after people, making sure they have a good time.

“When I was in the nightclub business, everybody wanted to be in the nightclub business,” he said. “But when I got into the hotel business, I had that market to myself for maybe 15, 20 years.”

And now?

“I see a lot of people going into it because it looks like a fun kind of thing to do. For a social platform, people enjoy owning hotels in the way they used to enjoy owning nightclubs before. It’s the same reason that people invest in restaurants. It’s not so much to make money. It’s more to get a good table in there. I think that same phenomenon is going on with hotels right now.”

Boutique Hotel Godfather Ian Schrager On His Celebrity Competition