Do you share a Steve Jobs’ fastidious obsession with glass?
Absolutely. Every single thing is a matter of life and death to me. Because you never really know what thing pushes it over the top. There’s no rulebook. You just try to sort of overwhelm the customer with the details. Not at a kind of superfluous kind of way, just don’t leave a stone unturned and try to make every single aspect – no matter how big, no matter how small – important, so that when it all comes together, there’s a certain alchemy that happens. Which is what happens with (Jobs’ products)… Walt Disney did it like that also, and both those guys have been incredible inspiration as me.
Do you use the same glassmaker as Apple?
Well, I would! I just can sort of empathize with him so much…You never really know what a person’s going to respond to. You just don’t know. Therefore everything becomes important, and to me everything is a matter of life and death.
Will you have any say in the design of the rentals?
No, I won’t.
What do you think the experience is going to be with two separate entities living in one building?
I think it’s going to be a “one plus one makes three” situation. I think that it’s really going to enhance the apartments, because you’re going to be able to provide hotel services and you’re going to be able to pick and choose what you want and when you want it.
You can have all the benefits of having a personal staff, but just pick and choose when you want it. I think it’s great for the (rental) apartments and I think some of the facilities that we’re doing for the apartment, the hotel guests will also be able to use. I think it just makes it better.
I’m very reluctant to talk about the residential. (Durst Fetner Residential) are the experts on that. The only thing I do know is that it will be first rate and of the highest quality and they’ll make every possible effort to make it special. If I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it.
What will be the going rate for a room? Will it be similar to what PUBLIC Chicago is charging (that hotel’s starting rates are at $135 a night)?
It’s affordable, but it’s for a new class of person. It’s for rich people and for people who are not so rich and young people and people who are older. Because I think value is going to be critically important going forward.
I don’t think it has anything to do with a bad economy. I just think people want value for their money, and I think if you can stay in a really, really cool place that gives you really, really great service, and you get everything you want and you can pay less than you would at some other hotel that gives you an array of services that you really don’t care about, why would you stay there?
Do you have any other hotels in the works?
We’re looking at a hotel in downtown (NYC) as well. We just won a bid for a hotel in London. And we’re looking to expand quickly. It’s the same strategy that I always had, and that is to go in to these 24 hour international gateway cities. It’s that same strategy, but not make the mistakes I made before by not having a brand. This time I want to do it with a brand.