Travelers who associate the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas with some of their most colorful travel memories may be excited to learn that a sister property just opened in the Big Apple. The William, a modern luxury hotel, just opened at 24 East 39th Street, and aims to "redefine the extended stay experience" in a chic, boutique way. Developer The Kash Group partnered with management company Warner Hospitality, which is headed up by Vegas hospitality veterans hailing from Station Casinos, the Cosmopolitan and N9NE Group.
Owner Shlomo Kash brought in two of Warner Hospitality's top executives, Michael Fuller, Executive Vice-President of Development, and Chris Najbicz, Executive Vice President of Hotel Operations, to develop The William from the earliest stages. In fact, Fuller and Najbicz scouted potential Manhattan properties in person, finally finding the perfect site at 24 East 39th Street. A former private clubhouse, its new look is thanks to an $11 million investment from The Kash Group, and a great creative team selected by Mr. Kash himself.
Owner Shlomo Bakhash brought in artist William Engel to collaborate with an up-and-coming team of designers on the décor, and also put a focus on forward-thinking amenities like in-room Nespresso machines and HD smart televisions that sync with mobile devices. The executive team also hired a group of "Culture Curators" to work in guest relations, ensuring that each guests' NYC stay is just as glamorous as their surroundings.
JustLuxe chatted with Warner Hospitality's Executive Vice-President of Development, Michael Fuller about what to expect at the William—from lessons learned at Hard Rock and applied in this new location, to completely new innovations that are being tested in this hot Manhattan hangout.
JustLuxe: What niche is Warner Hospitality aiming to fill in the lodging/hospitality market?
Michael Fuller: As a company, our focus spans the spectrum from the aspirational luxury set to ultimate luxury lifestyle.
JL: What did you perfect in Las Vegas that you think East Coast markets will appreciate?
MF: Firstly, nothing is perfect in life; thus, the relentless pursuit of perfection. Although our company is based in Vegas, our team’s life experiences spans all continents across the globe. We bring the success of each of these individuals to every project we take on.
JL: Describe the guest experience at the William.
MF: Because we are a 33 room boutique hotel experience, we can offer a level of service that larger hotels cannot. Our attention to each guest over their extended say becomes more of a friend to friend relationship as if you were at home.
JL: Why should people book here instead of a known international brand – i.e. a Hyatt or Marriott?
MF: A large majority of travelers (of all types) are looking to be in something different. Something they haven’t seen before. When you say Hyatt to me, I instantly think “predictable." For better or worse. Some people want to eat the same meal day after day. Others want to try different things. We are for those who want to come to New York and be right in the middle of it all and experience a hotel that without a doubt is unique in the marketplace.
JL: What's your favorite compliment someone's paid you on The William so far?
MF: So far, that one of our guests wishes there were more of them in other cities.
JL: What's your favorite restaurant in the neighborhood?
MF: Depends on what type of food we are talking about. Clearly I have to talk about The Shakespeare that just opened in the London Basement of The William. The food and ambiance are a perfect match for the hotel. But if we are looking to go around we have also checked out Supper in Alphabet City, Parker & Quinn at The Refinery, and Salvation Taco on the Pod Hotel often. All different, all delicious with great scenes.
JL: Tell me your position at Warner Hospitality, and your favorite thing about the job.
MF: I am the Executive Vice President of Development. The thing I like most about my career right now is, every day is different and filled with a new challenge. With working on a new project (three new ones this year at minimum) you spend a significant amount of time planning the approach, then you switch into construction mode, then finally operations. Once it comes time to get it open (like The William presently) things get very exciting and action-packed on a daily basis.
JL: Besides opening The William, what business projects are you looking for in 2014?
MF: Our focus will be on developing The William to its full potential, opening The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City in the fall, a third development that is being announced in a couple weeks, and fingers crossed, one more in New York.
Lena Katz is the author of the Travel Temptations series (SIP, SUN, SNOW), published by Globe Pequot Press in 2009. Lena is also a travel expert for Celebrations/1800FLOWERS and WEtv (online and on-air). She contributes to the South China Morning Post and ABC News online. Lena is a former Orbitz Travel blogger and former columnist for the LA Times. She's been published in Brides Magazine, Robb Rep...(Read More)