Industry Update
External Article11 June 2020

Hotels Transformed New York’s Social Life. Now What?

An industry revitalized itself with just the kind of large gathering spaces that now seem like breeding grounds for disease.

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There was a time in the not so far-off past when hotels lived or died by being an out-of-towner's fantasy: the Plaza, the Four Seasons, the St. Regis.

Then, as new money poured into real estate in the mid-1990s, and as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani cracked down on dance clubs like the Sound Factory and Tunnel, as food culture ascended and laptop computers and Startac phones enabled the self-employed to work outside their homes, a new group of boutique hotels became the new New York's fantasy of itself: ritzy, but not fusty.

Gender-nonconforming sex workers cycled out, star chefs rolled in. Guests at the city's boutique hotels engaged in spirited debates about which "Sex and the City" character they were: Charlotte, Carrie, Samantha or Miranda. Self-employed, Helmut Lang-clad creative types too good for Starbucks conducted business in the lobbies. And D.J.s played in their basement nightclubs.

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