If there are two luxury hotel groups that are diametrically opposed in their viewpoint, it may well be Four Seasons and Viceroy. While promotional material for both might feature an attractive, elegantly dressed couple gazing into each other’s eyes as they dance, only one would prominently display a tattoo on the gentleman’s wrist.
Having started with the Canadian based company in Los Angeles and moved to Boston, before switching to the Los Angeles based operator leading projects in Snowmass, Palm Springs and Anguilla, Jeff David may be the perfect choice as Managing Director to open The Knickerbocker, a luxury hotel in the Southeast corner of Times Square coming end 2014.
The Beaux Arts exterior is a protected New York landmark and dates to the hotel’s 1906 opening. Yet inside, it is sleek, understated modern luxury in every sense with dramatic lighting and cold marble. David compares the outside/inside style juxtaposition to Café Royal in London, and interior design by Gabellini Sheppard channels popular spots such as Milan’s Armani and Bulgari.
While luxury inventory during the past 20 years in New York has expanded beyond Midtown, Central Park and the Upper East Side, The Knickerbocker is still in a relatively underpenetrated area, with the W Times Square as the closest geographical competitor.
David, a youngish 41-year old, who is as comfortable showing off pictures of himself competing in the Dwayne Wade fantasy basketball camp taking Udonis Haslem off his feet as showing model rooms, clearly thinks he can make his place the go to option for corporate elite travelers as well as the leisure segment. He points out The Knickerbocker will be the closest high-end hotel for a number of corporations that call the tourist center home, including publisher Conde Nast across the street.
While the media company is moving downtown in the next couple years, Charlie Palmer will be extending his reach across the street with two outposts in The Knickerbocker, including a grab and go ground floor eatery and a third floor breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant. Hotel guests will be able to sign at Aureole, a partnership which gives David a nice place to bring VIPs and media for a martini, a drink claimed to have been launched at The Knickerbocker.
Although it hasn’t operated as a hotel since 1926, along with the St. Regis and Waldorf-Astoria, it has ties to tycoon John Jacob Astor who went down with the Titanic. Jakes at The Knick is named for his son who was born four months after the father’s death.
The hotel (which will be part of The Leading Hotels of the World) will have 330 rooms and 40 suites, including four theme suites. One is named for longtime resident Enrico Caruso and another for Maxfield Parrish, whose famous 30-foot long King Cole mural started its journey here before eventually moving to The St. Regis. A Martini Suite will stake the hotel’s claim as founder of the drink (A web site on the history of the concoction credits bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia for serving his version to John D. Rockefeller in 1911 thus making it the power drink of business elite, whereas competitive stories revolve Martinez, California during the earlier gold boom). Regards to Broadway can be celebrated in a George M. Cohan suite.
Eight feet high doors, 12 feet ceilings and six feet windows give guest rooms an extra spacious feel and stunning views if they wish. Blackout curtains and soundproof windows enable guests to block themselves off from the over 20 million folks who walk by the hotel each year. Televisions are all 55 inch and room adjustments are high-tech and traditional so guests can click an iPad or a switch. David said he wants to have “the strongest Wifi” and the hotel is spending to provide lots bandwidth. Bathrooms will have infinity mirrors, and there is meeting space for up to 150 but the prime draw may be the hotel’s rooftop St. Cloud bar. With stunning views of the bedlam below and a crows nest view of the ball that drops at New Year’s, David is imagining private parties for elite travelers on the other 364 days, perhaps a perfect way to send a marriage request, celebrate a milestone, or top off your company’s IPO at NASDAQ located across 42nd street. The 7,500 square feet of indoor/outdoor space will feature a leather floor VIP dance room, living walls and a tapas menu from happy hour until late as well as private parties. During the day it can also provide space for meetings.
David, who got his start at the famous Regent Beverly Wilshire under the legendary Alberto del Hoyo and Jan Goessing is aware that he has now stepped into the spotlight New York puts on every profession from pro sports to finance, media and even hospitality. Part of his goal is to position The Knickerbocker as an urban resort and to that end he will have daily activities from rooftop yoga to Scotch tastings for those who want to cocoon from the city that never sleeps. He is also exploring potential partnerships with nearby Madison Square Garden, home and owner of the long struggling New York Knicks, where the hardwood talents of the hotel boss might be in fact be useful.