Ian Schrager had enough with today's "design hotels." So he has created his own new brand in defiance of it. Meet PUBLIC: confident, self-assured, genuine and free of tricks and gimmicks, which will drive the hotel industry in a new direction, Schrager insists. Word is
Schrager, who is known for such endeavors as the Morgans Hotel and Studio 54, is now "anti-design and anti-flash, suspicious of the 'wow factor' and completely 'sick of slick.'" What to expect? Pared down edited design. The first? PUBLIC Chicago, a transformation of the iconic Ambassador East.
Schrager says the brand is the hotel industry's answer to the 'cross-shopping' phenomenon that has exploded in the retail marketplace. "In today’s world, the bargain hunter elite seek out value and affordability when purchasing a quality product, while traditional budget conscious consumers are trading up for that same great quality product. PUBLIC, appealing to both types of consumers will have an unexpected new mix of guests and hit the market’s bull’s-eye."
Sounds like PUBLIC will look to meld many worlds: the best from the boutique/lifestyle set and the best from the limited service model. "This brand will be defined by the unique experience it creates rather than by a business classification or price point," Schrager says.
What kind of service to expect? "The brand will only offer services that matter, those that guests really want and need rather than an array of superfluous services they do not use." For Schrager, this marks a new approach devoid of excess. "This is a huge opportunity to create a new genre of hotel that is not pigeonholed into a specific and traditional business classification," says Schrager. "The industry has created a Frankenstein. The idea behind the boutique, as I saw it, was meant to touch people emotionally and viscerally and offer guests a truly unique experience. The idea has been lost with the huge number of watered down versions. I want to bring it back in an updated version and elevate it to a cultural experience for the modern day traveler. These travelers now expect truly unique experiences and not merely a place to sleep. PUBLIC will punctuate this with great value and service as well."
Schrager has opted for a restrained, refined and classically cool approach to PUBLIC’s design. "There is no pretense here, just effortless, timeless, purist design providing a relaxed vibe and familiar atmosphere that feels like home," says Schrager. “We are trying not to be hip, we are in fact anti-hip, and therefore by definition, we are."
PUBLIC Chicago is a transformation of the 285-room Ambassador East, built in 1926 in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Schrager, who transformed the Clift Hotel and New York's Gramercy Park Hotel, is no stranger to redesigns. For PUBLIC Chicago, Schrager maintained the existing structure and architectural details and infused what he felt was new and modern aspects to evoke a warm, personal style. The spacious guest rooms and suites, as well as all of the public spaces, exemplify the "sincere chic" Schrager refers to. For example, positioning the desks in the guest rooms to face either the window or the interior of the room rather than the wall to create a more fulfilling working environment.
"Lobby Socializing," a phrase Schrager used when opening the Royalton back in 1988, meant that lobbies were the center of social activity and attracted locals in the city as well as guests. Schrager responds to this cultural shift by creating public spaces within the new Chicago hotel that accommodate social interaction. PUBLIC Chicago's "chat rooms," known as the Living Room and the Library will be just that with communal work tables and computer stations. Reminiscent of 1950’s American and European coffee houses and French patisseries, The Library will house a coffee bar during the day, offering Stumptown coffee. By night, the Library is transformed into a lounge and bar with food by Jean-George Vongerichten. Off of the Library is the candlelit Backroom, which doubles as a Screening Room.
The famed Pump Room is undergoing a complete renovation. The new food concept by Jean-Georges Vongerichten will be inspired by his ABC Kitchen in New York City, but tailored for Chicago. At night, the restaurant's bar will be transformed into a supper club.
Easy Access: PUBLIC EXPRESS, located at the front desk, will allow guests to customize their mini bars at check in as well as "grab and go" with snacks, toiletries and other convenience items 24 hours a day. PUBLIC Chicago also features 10 meeting rooms; a full service business center; a fitness center and access to David Barton gym.