André Balazs announced that he intends to convert Los Angeles’ iconic Chateau Marmont hotel into a private residential club by the end of the year.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Tuesday, Balazs said the 91-year-old Hollywood institution long associated with celebrities and celebrity excess is among several hotel properties worldwide that he is considering turning into private clubs. He has flirted with the idea for at least three years, he said, but the pandemic-related shutdowns in cities across the world have accelerated those plans.
According to the Journal, Balazs said the plan would be something similar to timeshares; guests could purchase “ownership stakes” which would make them “club members,” allowing them access to residences at multiple locations. In addition to the Chateau Marmont, Balazs owns dozens of hotels worldwide — including the Mercer Hotel in Manhattan and London’s Chiltern Firehouse.
Balazs told the paper that the approach could ease fears wealthy travelers have in the coronavirus era as they would be staying at familiar places around fellow club members they hypothetically would know. Though it must be noted that proximity, and not lack of familiarity, is a primary influence on COVID-19 transmission.
“There is something to be said for knowing people,” Balazs told the Journal. “You can chat with them; you know where they have been.”
According to the Journal, Chateau Marmont could be converted to a private club by the end of the year with other properties converted to members-only arrangements in the future.
Nearly every Chateau Marmont employee was laid off in March just as the pandemic was beginning. However, according to Journal it is unlikely the majority of those employees will be hired back when the club goes private as Balazs said he wants employees with a “different skill set.”