The longtime owner of Chateau Marmont wants to turn the L.A. landmark into a private club as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the status quo.
In an interview published Tuesday in Wall Street Journal, André Balazs said he wants out of the traditional hotel biz and is looking to convert the nearly 90-year-old Marmont into a private residential space by the end of 2020. He told the paper he has been considering the idea for some three years, and the COVID-19 era has sped up his timeframe.
Balazs, who also owns the posh Mercer in Manhattan and London’s Chiltern Firehouse, also is mulling the idea of selling ownership stakes in his properties to guests who become club members and who would own part of multiple residences in his hotels. He noted that guests would be cool with staying where they knew many of the other people staying at the properties.
“There is something to be said for knowing people,” Balazs, who has owned the Marmont for three decades, told WSJ. “You can chat with them; you know where they have been.”
The hotelier to the stars had to lay off nearly all of the his staffers as the virus took hold in the spring, and he told WSJ that he’s not likely to bring them back because he wants fewer workers and many with different skill sets for his planned private properties.
Looming over Sunset Boulevard east of Roxbury since 1929, the historic Chateau Marmont has a rep as a residence for celebrities and is part of L.A.’s fabric. It has been featured in movies ranging from Myra Breckinridge and The Doors to La La Land and 2018’s A Star Is Born. Its more infamous history includes being the site of comedy legend John Belushi’s overdose death in 1982.