Chateau Marmont is known for quite a few things: the infamous hotel, which was originally an apartment building, is almost a century old and, since inception, has been a celebrity hang out for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Sidney Poitier and in more recent years, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lindsay Lohan. It's even been the site of celebrity deaths, including John Belushi in 1982. And now the Sunset Boulevard property is entering a new endeavor.
Famed hotelier André Balazs, Chateau's owner, just announced plans to transition the property into a members-only, members-owned style format. Over the next year, members will have the opportunity to own a piece of the Chateau Marmont while also having access to a private dining area, a trained, personal butler, and the option to leave belongings behind as they come and go.
According to a Chateau Marmont spokesperson, approximately 70 percent of pre-pandemic guests were repeat customers, so "informally, the properties are already operating as a members-only hotel." The rep added that the pandemic-induced travel slowdown has turned the hotel into a second—and sometimes even third—home for its posh clientele.
Though the Chateau, which consists of rooms and bungalows, has remained open during COVID-19, safety and even an air of exclusivity continue, with hotel managers and concierge only confirming reservations of guests known to the hotel or who are referred by a known guest. A spokesperson even claimed the hotel turned away many guests during the Fourth of July so they could "adequately preserve the safety of guests."
Though fees haven't been announced yet and it's more than a year before the members-only style is launched, Balazs plans to possibly extend the same concept to properties in London, New York, Singapore, and Paris. This trend could inspire other hotels around the world.
"This firmly acknowledges that the bar has been raised," Francesca Bucci, founder of hospitality and commercial interiors design firm BG Studio International, told TripSavvy. "In a sense, COVID has now made private space and hygiene paradigms the new luxury." In addition to an increase in touchless surfaces and contact-free check-ins, which many hotels have already implemented, Bucci, who has designed and renovated hotel interiors in the U.S, Caribbean, and Europe, wouldn't be surprised if luxe features will include private entrances and beautifully-designed partitions in restaurants.
It's impossible to know if the members-only model will prove successful. Still, Dan Sachs, the author of "The Million Dollar Greeting," says it's all about the customer experience and tailoring to individual needs. "If the brand [is] strong enough and the experience unique enough, there are plenty of people that will be willing to sign on as members. As long as the standards remain, I would expect a successful outcome."