My «Fetish» Hoteliers. Alan Faena & André Balazs

My fetish hoteliers.
Alan Faena and André Balazs, the masters of the hotel social club

By Pablo Burgués
Photo: María Andreu

Interview with Diego Calvo CEO and Founder of Concept Hotel Group, who’ll chat with us about two hoteliers that have inspired him when it comes to creating his hotels.

Good afternoon Captain, why do Alan Faena and André Balazs fascinate you so much?
Because they were among the first to define a new concept of hotels, establishments that are more than just simple places in which to rest. They created hotels for people to meet and socialise in, places were something is always happening: exhibitions, catwalks and concerts for example, turning them into energetic cultural and social nerve centres.

OK, let’s start with Alan Faena, please explain to our uneducated readers (and our even more uneducated interviewer) who is this guy and why we should respect him?

Alan Faena, who could be defined as an artist-entrepreneur, is a hotelier and real estate developer who is also heavily involved in the design of his projects. When he was 19 years old he created his own fashion brand Via Vai, which was a huge success in Argentina, the place of his birth. After selling the brand towards the end of the 90s, he entered into the world of real estate where he has worked with the giants of design and architecture including Philippe Starck and Norman Foster. One of his most impressive creations is the Faena District in Miami, an entire cultural neighbourhood created from scratch, and in which we find ultramodern buildings, restaurants, hotels and even a forum for major events related to the art world. And as if this wasn’t enough Alan Faena, he is also crazy about rock ‘n’ roll, just like me. Total respect!

Fuck yeah!
So why should we be envious of Andre Balazs?

André Balazs is another one of those people who seems to be a glutton for punishment. He owns some of the coolest and most successful hotels in the world such as the Chateau Mormont (Hollywood) and The Chiltern Firehouse (London) and is the founder of Standard Hotels Both are on the must-do lists for celebrities, artists, fashion designers (they say that even the Queen has to wait to get a room). One of Andre ́s quotes explains what I love about this guy: “The details, or better still an endless sequence of them, are what makes a project work”. I always have this mantra in mind when I create a new hotel. But in addition to his role as an entrepreneur, you should also envy Mr Balazs for his reputation as a playboy who has had flings (confirmed or merely suspected) with A-listers including Sharon Stone, Cameron Diaz, Naomi Campbell, Renée Zellweger, Daphne Guinness, Uma Thurman and Kylie Minogue.

Have these two gentlemen influenced the decorative and conceptual sides of your hotels?

Yes, of course, the importance of socialising is present at our Paradiso Art Hotel, a lively and bustling place that hosts concerts, performances and fashion photoshoots to name but a few. Regarding decoration, the red and white umbrellas that will surround the pool of our new hotel, Romeo’s, are a small tribute to the Casa Faena Miami Beach.

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My «Fetish» Hoteliers: Ian Schrager y Tony Pike

Ian Schrager and Tony Pike, inventors of the boutique hotel concept.

By Pablo Burgués

This is the first in a series of interviews in which Diego Calvo (CEO and founder of Concept Hotel Group) will tell us about the characters that have inspired him the most when it comes to creating his hotels.

Good morning Diego. First of all, tell me how you started with your hotels.
My teenage summers were always linked to nightlife. 1990’s Ibiza was marvellous, the streets were full of happy, shiny people and the beaches were full of beautiful girls in bikinis. I loved all that and more, and even though I knew I would have to leave the island and see the world, I also knew that I would return and dedicate myself to the world of tourism and hospitality.

How much of the blame did Ian Schrager and Tony Pike have for this??
A hell of a lot! When I finished high school in 1997 I didn’t know what I wanted to study at university. I came across a magazine which had an article about boutique hotels, including Pikes Hotel (built by Tony Pike), The Royalton and Morgans (created by Ian Schrager). This was my road to Damascus moment, I was fascinated by how each of them had taken the hotel experience beyond the classic ritual of sleep, shower and breakfast. These are places for living, socialising and enjoying. As I read the article I knew that this was my calling, to create different hotels where people had fun and were happy.

What things do you admire about each person?
Ian’s vision and creativity to take hotels to another level, along with the way he brought the essence of socialising to hotels. Tony Pike’s capacity for entertainment and diversion, and the natural instinct of getting his guests involved in all the fun and games.

How and when was the boutique hotel concept born?
In 1977 Ian Schrager, together with his college buddy Steve Rubel, opened the legendary Studio 54 in New York. Despite the fact that Studio 54 became an iconic place, things didn’t end well there and they ended up in jail for money laundering. While they were in jail they created Morgans Hotel Group, and in 1984 they opened Morgans Hotel (New York), considered by many to be the first boutique hotel in history.
However, this is not entirely true, because in 1980 Mr Tony Pike had already opened Pikes Hotel in Ibiza. So I’m sorry Ian, Tony got their first.

One of the differentiating elements of Concept Hotel Group is the aesthetic aspect. What is the process of creating a new hotel from scratch?

The skeleton of a hotel is essential to enable the product to be successful, so the first thing we choose is a good building. Then you have to think of an idea where architectural style and interior design coexist. Finally, a concept where there is always something happening in the hotel, adding value to the guest’s stay. In Concept Hotel Group we have developed all our projects with this recipe: Design + Concept + Hotel..

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