Celebrity hotelier and architectural patron Andre Balazs is not known for doing anything “standard.” That was the irony in the name he chose for the hospitality brand he created 18 years ago, Standard Hotels.
This month Balazs stepped down as chairman of the company he founded, Standard International of New York. According to The Financial Times and hotel industry publications, he will maintain a 20 percent stake in the company as well as stakes he holds in individual hotels.
Balazs, who heads the privately-held Andre Balazs Properties, could not be reached about the move. But according to The Financial Times and Hotel Management, a publication that follows the hotel industry, Balazs has described his decision to leave Standard’s board of directors as a “friendly parting of ways.”
Standard International is currently developing a 270-room hotel in London, and Balazs said in a published statement that he is “no longer involved with the design or any other aspect of the development of the London Standard.”
A representative for Standard International said a new chairman has not been named.
Standard’s portfolio includes five Standard hotels around the United States, including The Standard Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard; The Standard in downtown Los Angeles; the Standard High Line; The Standard East Village and The Standard Spa in Miami Beach. It also has a separate division called the Bunkhouse Group.
Balazs, 60, has drawn acclaim for revolutionizing the concept of affordable hospitality, with irreverent and playful touches such as putting a clear partition between the shower and the sleeping area in guestrooms at the Standard in downtown L.A. He has employed first-rate architects and designers, such as Ennead Architects and Roman and Williams for the Standard High Line. He has worked on residential projects with architects Jean Nouvel, Richard Gluckman, and Calvin Tsao. He was early to see the development potential of the High Line and other areas.
According to its website, Andre Balazs Properties portfolio includes the Mercer Hotel in New York City; the Chateau Marmont in California, Chiltern Firehouse in London and Sunset Beach on Shelter Island in New York.
Educated at Cornell University and Columbia University, Balazs has also drawn attention for dating celebrities such as Uma Thurman and Chelsea Handler.
One project he pursued with Standard but didn’t bring about was a hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport, using Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal for the common areas. Another developer was subsequently named to lead that venture.
What’s next for Balazs? It’s not likely to be standard. Observers say they expect him to stay in the hotel business and turn his attention even more to the luxury sector, as he hinted he might do in a statement published by Hotel Management.
“The lack of uniqueness in the luxury sector is lamentable,” he was quoted as saying. “I think we changed the affordable category. I think the luxury market is crying for exactly that.”