It was bright and deceptively cold this past Friday as our Young Leaders Group (“YLG”) held its first of its Secrets of Success series, “Boutique Hotel Development in NYC.” Overlooking a stunning view of Columbus Circle, the YLGs gathered for an exclusive, intimate talk with Matt Livian, Chief Investment Officer, and Jake Lamstein, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer of Sydell Group, the lifestyle-oriented hotel developers. The masterminds behind New York’s NoMad and Ace Hotels offered their insights into their real estate strategy and how they’ve created a brand that maintains a repeat customer base that is double that of the industry standard.
From their “premium hostel” in Miami to their partnership in London with Soho House, Sydell Group practices the same attention to design, culture and experience at every price point. Carefully chosen partnerships with their restaurants and retail tenants help create the local, holistic experience Lamstein and Livian frequently emphasized. “We want people to stay at a place where they’re not staring at people from out of town,” Livian says, “they want a local experience.”
Their real estate strategy? Find low-cost real estate, and then figure out the branding. The first step is to Identify a neighborhood that has good transportation, is well located (the Ace and NoMad hotels are conveniently located for meetings in midtown and nightlife downtown), and is beautiful architecturally. “Start with the architecture,” Lamstein stresses.
The YLGs left with some words of advice from Livian, “get in, build a network, get experience. Once you’re in, it’s a small world.”