LOS ANGELES—Expectations are high for sbe Entertainment Group’s Mondrian brand, with plans to continue its momentum internationally—penetrating major cities along the way. Before opening up another location across the globe, the hospitality group stopped to unveil its fourth Mondrian property in this country’s largest city: New York City.
“After the acquisition of Morgans Hotel Group, sbe reviewed the full, combined portfolio and analyzed each of the projects in development,” said Michele Caniato, chief brand officer at sbe, a lifestyle hospitality company. “Initially conceived as an SLS, designed by iconic designer Philippe Starck with a culinary concept by José Andrés, the project on Park Avenue evolved after we decided the Mondrian brand aligned perfectly with the NoMad neighborhood, and a renewed focus was placed on bringing the legacy of the iconic Mondrian brand to new markets around the world.”
Having been in the works for five years, the project itself began unfolding after sbe’s acquisition of Morgans Hotel Group in late 2016. The 20-story Mondrian Park Avenue will have 189 guestrooms and suites, and 7,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space, including a private rooftop meeting room.
Starck has designed 14 of sbe’s 20 hotels, including the restaurants within the hotels. He also conceptualized the entire Katsuya portfolio, which just recently opened its 10th location at the Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas.
The French designer’s role with sbe is ongoing; he’ll play a role in new-builds and renovations. “Philippe Starck was originally brought on to put his mark on the SLS Park Avenue,” Caniato said. “As the direction of the property evolved, Joe Faust, the president of sbe’s subsidiary Dakota Development, and his team took lead on the design execution of the Mondrian Park Avenue. Our partnership with Philippe is keeping its momentum with plans to collaborate on the future SLS Philadelphia as well as some significant renovations to some of our key properties that we cannot disclose yet.”
The Park Avenue project is sbe’s first collaboration with David Moinian and Moin Development. Moinian and Sam Nazarian, sbe’s founder, chairman and CEO, have been longtime friends and business associates; their families are also friendly with one another. “As the owner of the property, David worked closely with sbe on the development of the project,” Caniato explained.
The building will be managed by L.A.-based Journal Hotels. “Stephen Brandman is a respected hotelier who we also know well, and we’re excited to have him and his Journal Hotels team manage one of sbe’s most important brands and a very special project to us,” Caniato said. The management company’s portfolio now includes Mondrian Park Avenue, The Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles, Hotel G in San Francisco, Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs and Ambassador in Chicago.
“This intimate brand is poised for major expansion, both domestically and abroad, which we, at Journal Hotels, have our eyes on,” said Stephen Brandman, CEO of Journal Hotels. “The Mondrian brand—and Mondrian Park Avenue—embody the luxury lifestyle aesthetic we strive to create in urban settings, and we’re excited to have a hand in bringing Mondrian to New York City, and to the rapidly expanding NoMad neighborhood. The lifestyle experience Mondrian is known for creating across its portfolio will be well-represented at Mondrian Park Avenue, with an energetic nightlife, culinary and cultural scene that will embody the spirit of its local neighborhood, and New York City as a whole.”
He added, “Like with our other properties, there’s a great story waiting to be discovered at Mondrian Park Avenue as it relates to the location’s history and culture, and we are looking forward to telling that story.”
For the Mondrian brand (and sbe in general), the term “luxury” is overused. “It’s not about luxury; it’s about experiences,” said sbe’s top brand exec. These experiences should provide a 360-degree experience for guests—from design to F&B to nightlight to space. “We focus on creating lifestyle moments that are forged with highly creative and passionate services,” he said. “We’re committed to authenticity, sophistication and innovation and creating new experiences for guests and locals.” The Mondrian Park Avenue property is an example of sbe’s vision for the brand: its F&B options, in particular, bring foreign experiences to the city’s market.
For instance, the property will have a 120-seat Cleo, sbe’s Mediterranean culinary concept helmed by chef Danny Elmaleh, who’s been the mastermind behind many of sbe’s restaurants.
“The Cleo brand has received numerous accolades, including being named one of OpenTable’s 50 hottest restaurants in the U.S.,” Caniato explained. “With locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami, this will be the first Cleo to open in New York. This will be a brand new experience for New Yorkers, something they can’t experience anywhere else in the Northeast.”
The common thread among the brand’s current properties is made up of a couple of essential components: design and major international cities. For instance, each property is designed to infuse the essence of the city it resides in through the design of rooms, restaurants and nightclub offerings.
“The first Mondrian in Los Angeles was designed by Philippe Starck,” Caniato explained. “After the success of the first location, we opened doors in South Beach with a design by Marcel Wanders, and then London with a design by Tom Dixon. We’re also about to open what will be our fifth Mondrian in Doha in Qatar with another design by Marcel Wanders. The lavish 270-room hotel includes eight F&B offerings, one of the largest ballrooms in the region, and the largest ESPA Spa in the world. Additionally, the brand has plans to open in Dubai in 2019.”
As far as the brand’s future, sbe’s vision for Mondrian is to expand it to all major cities across the globe. While there’s a focus is the Middle East in the near term, there have also been discussions to bring the brand to South America, Central America and the Asian market, particularly Japan.
“Our vision is to bring the brand to every major city around the world and make it a destination for locals and visitors,” Caniato said. “From collaborating with the best designers to developing incredible restaurant and nightlife concepts, Mondrian takes inspiration from the city it resides in and infuses it into every experience it offers.” HB