Hotelier Ian Schrager is entranced with South Florida, and remains in hot pursuit of new hotel sites.
“I’m very aggressively looking to do a couple of hotels,” he told The Real Deal. “I believe in the strength of the market. I think we are at the beginning of a renaissance, and I’d like to be part of it.”
Schrager, who opened the Miami Beach Edition in December of last year, said he is looking to bring a Public hotel to the North Beach part of Miami Beach, and has his eye further up the coast for a new location for the Edition, his luxury brand in partnership with Marriott.
“We’re looking to do another Edition in South Florida,” Schrager told attendees Friday at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ 49th Annual Real Estate Journalism Conference, where he served as the keynote speaker at the session “Reinventing the Hotel, the Next Chapter.”
Broward County is keenly on his radar. Schrager said he had been negotiating for a property for an Edition in Fort Lauderdale, but ended up taking a pass, because the financial metrics didn’t pan out. He declined to disclose the location.
“I think the South Florida market is very deep,” he said during his speech. Beyond Miami Beach, he is looking up the coast, past Surfside, Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles.
He also is looking outside South Florida, to St. Petersburg and other parts of the state, as he expands worldwide. Schrager said he is working on 20 hotels, including four in China, and others in Bangkok and India.
The former co-owner of Studio 54, along with Steve Rubell, recalled how he made the shift from nightclubs to hotels when he sold Studio 54 and took back a promissory note. The purchaser couldn’t repay the note, so he traded it for his interest in a hotel.
Schrager sees the two industries as sharing the same “zone” of hospitality. “They all have the same goals of looking after guests — in one, people are sleeping over, and in the other, they should sleep over, and sometimes they do,” he quipped during his NAREE speech.
Schrager’s history with South Florida dates back decades, when he would visit his father and his brother. It was Miami Beach’s ‘Golden Age’ in the ’50s, when vacationers would come for the weather, beach and tropical atmosphere. His brother still lives here.
When Schrager opened the Delano South Beach 13 years ago, he viewed it as starting a “renaissance” in Miami Beach. “Now, I see another renaissance. Miami and Miami Beach are no longer a vacation, tropical getaway for people from the Northeast, but a world-class capital,” he said.
His philosophy regarding hotels is to provide guests with not just a bed, but an experience, including dining, entertainment and other services. “We’re trying to figure out how technology will really improve the quality of a person’s stay,” he said.
Florida will remain a focus, he told TRD after his speech. “I believe in Florida,” he said, citing the state’s population growth. “It still has a long way to go.”