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Starwood Capital reinvents luxury (hospitality) through ‘eco glitz’

1 Hotels, the ‘nature-inspired’ lifestyle brand developed by SH Group, the hotel brand management arm of Starwood Capital Group (not to be confused with hospitality giant Starwood Hotels & Resorts), announced this week the opening of its second hotel, the 1 Hotel Central Park in New York City one block south from New York City’s largest green space, at the corner of 58th Street and Sixth Avenue.

The first 1 Hotel which opened in Miami earlier this year, is actually the third re-branding of the same property, formerly The Perry and the Gansevoort, in less than 3 years, hence the large number of followers on social media and the large number of reviews on Tripadvisor. One can only wonder how fast the same building can transform into an ”eco” one.

The 1 Hotel New York features 229 guest rooms, including 22 suites and 1 Greenhouse Suite. Each room is created with energy efficient ‘Triple Clear Water’ filters in all taps (impressive!), sinks and showers; energy-efficient heating and cooling systems; natural Keetsa ‘hemp-blend’ mattresses; natural cotton towels and custom 1 Hotels products that are naturally-derived and eco-friendly cleaning solvents – many top luxury hotels already use for a long time organic bathroom amenities, not natural ones.

Most of these marketing rather than ”eco luxury” features have long been used by luxury hotels, which never market their number one asset – SERVICE.  Same goes for the highly emphasized ‘eco / luxury’ features such as: electronic check-in, in-room tablets (Nexus instead of iPhone) for the control of the television, communications and temperature.

The hotel provides TESLA rides within a 15-block radius, complimentary valet for all electric vehicles for overnight guests. By comparison Peninsula Hotels and Kempinski Hotels & Resorts already include in the fleet of select properties the BMW i8 and BMW i3 respectively (BMW’s electric car)

But since when is ”eco” luxury? In a brief overview of other luxury sectors, electric cars are more expensive than regular ones and a Stella McCartney recycled plastic handbag can easily be more expensive than a Mulberry leather handbag? Then, 1 Hotel New York must be more expensive than the Baccarat hotel, managed by the same company, SH Group, owned by Starwood Capital.

The first ever Baccarat Hotel & Residences opened with great fanfare in New York, earlier this year announcing that residences had already been sold out.

Unable to revive Baccarat, the ailing heritage French glass and crystal maker, owner Starwood Capital opted to diversify the heritage specialist brand into hotels, hoping, probably, that such a large ”global showroom” of the crystal-maker will have a short/mid-term direct contribution to the potential recovery of Baccarat. Starwood Capital main focus on real estate rather than hospitality could not be more evident with the sale of the Baccarat Hotel & Residences New York, shortly after opening.

The second BACCARAT Hotel is ‘oddly’ announced for…Rabat (administrative capital of Morocco), hardly a corporate, MICE or leisure destination. Although there are no updates on the progress of the project, besides some mediocre quality renderings, which may only lead to question how successful will Starwood Capital prove to be in re

Founded in 1764, Baccarat Crystal is a manufacturer of fine crystal glassware located in Baccarat, France. The company also owns two museums: the Musée Baccarat in Baccarat, Meurthe-et-Moselle and the Musée Baccarat, Paris, on the Place des États-Unis in Paris. In 2005, Starwood Capital Group acquired Groupe du Louvre, which owned, at the time, Baccarat. The company had been registering losses and amassing debt well before 2005.

Oliver Petcu

 

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