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One iconic Los Angeles institution is about to reimagine its business model.
In a new interview with The Wall Street Journal, hotelier André Balazs, 63, said he is preparing to convert the Chateau Marmont into an exclusive, members-only property in a move that would break away from its traditional hotel structure.
Balazs explained that, while he's been mulling over the new concept, the strain on the hospitality industry brought on by the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic made him expedite the process. Under the new framework, guests could buy ownership stakes at the property when becoming members.
“There is something to be said for knowing people. You can chat with them; you know where they have been,” Balazs told the outlet of the intended appeal of membership, offering peace of mind to those weary of shacking up near strangers in an outbreak.
The operator said he plans to transition Chateau Marmont into the private hotel format by the end of the year, according to WSJ. The 63-room French-inspired castle, which has seen numerous infamous events over the years, is tucked into the edge of the Hollywood Hills and has been in businesses since 1929.
“We have always screened our guests,” Balazs said of the exclusivity of its patrons. “Guests are never more than one degree of separation away.”
A spokesperson for Chateau Marmont told the Los Angeles Times that members will pay fees that will get them a private dining area, a personal butler and the ability to come and go during lengthy stays.
“Members will be able to sell their shares back to the management company or other approved members, as they would with any other real estate investment,” said the spokesperson.
The Chateau Marmont has an at times sordid history with ties to a range of celebrities — from Lindsay Lohan’s well-documented eviction from Suite 33 for running up a $46,350.04 bill in 2012, to John Belushi’s death in Bungalow 3 in 1982.
Further back in Hollywood history, Jean Harlow is rumored to have had an affair with Clark Gable at the hotel in 1933 while on her honeymoon with her third husband. James Dean won his role in Rebel Without a Cause, in part, by jumping through the roof of Bungalow 2. Led Zeppelin’s drummer road his motorcycle through the lobby, as well.
As former Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn once said: "If you are going to get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont."