Discreetly tucked away on a leafy tree-lined street near Museum Mile in New York City’s fashionable Upper East Side, The Mark Hotel carries the distinction of being one of the world’s most exquisite hotels. A magnet for attracting A-List celebrities such as Oprah, Kelly Ripa and Tom Brady, The Mark Hotel provides the ultimate in luxury for its discerning guests. Located at 25 E. 77th St. only steps from Central Park, some of the world’s most famous high-end brands are situated throughout the neighborhood which includes iconic Madison Avenue, resulting in the ultimate shopping destination for anyone desiring to stay ahead of the fashion curve.
Noted chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten have put their culinary stamp on menus in the Upper East Side, and the mile and a half region has surged to the forefront of the New York City food scene. Vongerichten is responsible for the operation and success of numerous acclaimed restaurants worldwide, including Tropical in Miami Beach and The Rooftop by JG, Los Angeles. In 2008 he brought his signature global seasonings to The Mark Hotel, New York.
The chic Mark Bar, designed by Jacques Grange with specially made furnishings by Guy de Rougemont and Vladimir Kagan, serves hand crafted classic and signature cocktails. Showcased in a copper and glass wine wall in the dining room are a collection of boutique and familiar food friendly wines from around the world.
Izak Senbahar, owner of the Alexico Group which includes The Mark Hotel, New York, recently offered his frank assessment of today’s hospitality industry.
What is your definition of a boutique hotel?
When hotels are one of a kind, highly designed, have celebrity chefs and buzzy bars people tend to call them boutique hotels. Boutique hotels in general have less than 100 keys. The Mark Hotel has 156 keys with a large suite count. So it is not technically a boutique hotel and I don’t really like to associate The Mark Hotel with a boutique hotel concept. The Mark Hotel, New York is part of a bigger plan. It is a prototype which we have been perfecting for the last nine years. We have been number one in RevPar in New York and probably in the entire country for the last three years. We are now ready to take the brand to other major cities, with the first phase being Paris, London and LA. We have started The Mark, Paris project and we are actively looking for a location in London and LA.
Describe some of the challenges facing the hospitality industry today.
Like most other industries today, it is crowded. Most cities have too many hotel rooms. I believe two segments of the industry are faring better than the other segments; the no frills hotels and the ultra luxury segment. The rich are getting richer and there is more wealth being created around the globe, which in turn is stimulating higher demand for the best of the best, ultra luxury hotels.
What are some of the key factors that help to attract and maintain a loyal customer base?
Service, service and then more service. Of course the product and all the basics must also fire on all cylinders and of course we are obsessed with the details. The most important factor, though, is the guest experience. We feel that our job is to make sure our guests have an unforgettable experience that will stay with them and aspire them to come back and repeat.
How has competition like Airbnb affected the industry?
It has not affected the luxury segment at all. Our clients are not going to stay in somebody’s second bedroom. I think the no frills hotels with lots of communal areas and multiple F&B venues can compete and do well against Airbnb. Frankly, Airbnb is just too utilitarian and there is nothing exciting about it. It may be an OK concept if you are looking to rent a house in the Adirondacks.
What makes The Mark so special around the winter holidays?
The winter holidays are very special in New York City. Central Park covered in snow is mesmerizing and it is virtually our backyard. The shops along Madison Avenue and The Museum mile with all the Christmas decorations are wonderfully festive and get you in the holiday spirit in a New York second. The energy in the Hotel around the holidays is really magical. How does the song go? “It is the most wonderful time of the year “
How has the designer Jacques Grange enhanced The Mark’s standing as one one of the most exquisite boutique hotels in the world.
Greatly. The iconic design by Jacques Grange and the dramatic black and white floors in the lobby have been covered by almost every publication around the world including the cover of Financial Times magazine. It is a timeless design that is elegant and chic in a glamorous and comfortable way. Most hotels can be either too glitzy or too contemporary and Jacques with his experiences of working with the likes of Yves Sant Laurent, Valentino and Karl Lagerfeld created the most splendid and fashionable environment.
What is in the store for the future of The Mark?
To be the ultimate luxury hotel brand, globally.
What is your long time vision for Alexico Group?
Besides working on the launching of The Mark Hotel in Paris, London and LA, we are always looking to develop more luxury buildings in New York City. However, for the time being we feel that the luxury condominium and rental markets are overdone. Hence we are in a holding pattern for now. Real Estate is a cyclical business. We will be back to building more iconic buildings like 56 Leonard in not so distant future.
* Roger Sands writes about luxury travel and offers insights into the people who play important roles within the travel industry. https://www.linkedin.com/in/roger-sands-7078ab112/ ( Roger Sands / Contributor / Travel / forbes.com)