Ian Schrager, the New York hotelier who is the name behind names such as Morgans Hotel Group Co and Studio 54 is all set to launch his next “fresh start.” The 64 year old hotelier will be starting two trendy hotel chains. The first one will be focussed towards luxury lifestyle and the other one will be more on the affordable end and will be along the lines of the hip, large-scale urban hotels.
He is hoping to rope in his previous lender and partners at Morgan Stanley but says that “deals right now are hard to come by”. This time around he wants to own the hotel rather than just managing them. And so he has been looking at several properties in New York, London, Los Angeles and Miami. He already bought Chicago’s historic Ambassador East Hotel, and will be converting it to resemble his new concept after a $25 million renovation that will be over by the fall of 2011.
But Mr. Schrager will be getting stiff competition from billionaire Richard Branson who announced that his Virgin Group Ltd. will spend about $500 million to open a line of hip upscale hotels in all the major U.S. cities. These hotels will be boutique hotels, the kind of hotels that Mr. Schrager himself had pioneered way back in the 80s.