Beyond the Books
By: Matt Jones
When I had imagined what the courses in the MIT MSRED program would be like, I never would have guessed that class time would include hanging out in the lobby of the hippest hotel in Manhattan, sipping on specialty cocktails served with the compliments of the hotel’s sharply-dressed General Manager.
But on Thursday, October 23rd, this is exactly where our class found itself: comfortably lounging on the mismatched, plush-upholstered couches and armchairs in the dimly-lit lobby of the Ace Hotel, the achingly hip icon of hipster hospitality in the Flatiron district, which has single-handedly revolutionized the hotel industry, spawning a new generation of boutique properties.
As part of our class’s Real Estate Products Seminar, we regularly tour buildings which reflect the state-of-the-art in their particular real estate category: office, retail, residential, R&D, and also hotels. Coinciding with the annual ULI Meeting in New York in mid-October, most of the class traveled down to New York, which also afforded us the opportunity to take a private tour of the Ace, led by the property’s GM, the Dutch-born Jan Rozenveld.
Our group also sat down the Ace’s Atelier, their global creative team which has realized new properties from Palm Springs to Panama to Pittsburgh and has more than a few new concepts under development as Ace Hotels continues to unfurl its fashionable flag across the world. This provided a rare opportunity for us to hear about some of the aesthetic planning of property development, and brand identity formation and maintenance: issues which are particularly relevant to the hotel development field.
Rozenveld ended our afternoon by inviting us to an impromptu reception in the hotel’s lobby, which was buzzing with activity in the early evening hours as the cool crowd filled up the antique bar: not the normal setting for a graduate seminar, but it just shows you can never predict where your education will take you.