Dreams Come to Life at Strategic Group’s Newest VentureJune 21, 2011 By: Sean Evans
The Chatwal’s Dream Downtown Hotel opened recently, after a week of private events and preview bashes to industry elite. As is tradition with Strategic Group’s Jason Strauss, Noah Tepperberg, Marc Packer and Rich Wolf, the opening was nothing short of mind-boggling. A cadre of SUVs, Rolls Royces, Bentleys and rimmed exotic rides vied for the very few spaces up front, most of which was being occupied by the overwhelming sea of people clamoring to get in.
Once inside, guests milled about in Marble Lane, the hotel lobby’s restaurant, which is run by former LAVO NY Chef Manuel Trevino. Little bites were floating around the room, and the restaurant’s tables had been repurposed to serve double duty for bottle-service presentations to entice those not wanting to try their hand at gaining access to the other VIP areas inside Dream that Strategic counts under its umbrella of operations.
At the second floor pool area and bar, dubbed The Beach and Café at Dream, guests were treated to swimming “mermaids” who frolicked in the pool, delighting those poolside and those in the lobby: The bottom of the pool features windows that look out of the ceiling of the lobby bar. The intimate beach area has sand off to one side, where chaise lounges await hotel guests, a nice touch.
Upstairs is the coup de grace, PhD. A penthouse club encompassing about 4,000 square feet indoors, the room features stainless-steel- and chrome-wrapped marble pillars, huge installations that are home to the coat check, VIP hostess stand, two bars and big glass chandeliers, adding a further touch of elegance to the room. Not that it needs much help: The north side of the room is a sliding glass wall that can completely open up, allowing access to the stunning, 2,200-square-foot terrace. The views from this vantage point are breathtaking and give nearby Boom Boom Room at the Standard a run for its money.
PhD’s capacity is about 400 patrons; the room, designed by Handel Architects, features a number of flourishes that Tepperberg and Strauss worked to add, such as the drawers underneath the inward-facing banquettes, small teal ottomans and 32 LEDs facing outward from behind the DJ booth, where Samantha Ronson was spinning during the opening fete.
The room was designed to be a “timeless space,” Tepperberg says. “We want it to be cool today and cool 10 years from now. Walk into the Chrysler Building’s lobby and what’s in there has been there for 50 years, but it still looks fresh. That’s the kind of feeling we want with PhD,” he says.
Which means they used many of the same materials as the iconic New York City landmark.
“We always use marble as a signature in most of Strategic and Tao Group’s places. It’s a great material, which doesn't break and stain and doesn't need maintenance,” Tepperberg explains. “And we wanted to tie in with teak and wood and chrome design elements which run throughout the hotel, so those are present as well.”
As for the terrace, the “glass sliding doors gives it a unifying element; a sense of closure,” Tepperberg says. “It really makes it all feel like one room when they’re fully open.” He adds that they will winterize the terrace with a tent to keep the venue operational year-round.
The group also tapped Angelo Poulos from Advanced Audio Technology to install all of the sound and lighting elements in the room, which will be manned by a sound and lighting technician on-premise at all times when the venue’s open. And Leslie Zamor Design will be accenting the room with little touches, such as rugs, lampshades, pillows and the like.
The most interesting thing about PhD isn’t in the room; it’s the way you enter it.
“First, guests will have to queue up in the lobby and go through our doorman, Aalex Julien, to get into the first queuing room,” Tepperberg explains. “There, we’ll have a program running with performance art to keep people entertained while they wait.”
During the opening, one girl was a live candelabrum; melted wax covered her seemingly naked body as she rested on her perch atop a table.
“After that, guests move to the second queuing area, which leads them into the elevator area and up to PhD.” The reason for all the lines? “We want to avoid hotel guests from running into a line in the lobby,” Tepperberg says.
Michael Lindenbaum, the managing director of Dream Downtown, says when he was recruited for this project, “I asked who was doing the food and beverage and the first call I made was to Noah. I’ve known him since I was 15 years old, and he’s always been a nightlife icon. He’s got that magical touch, and he’s the smartest guy in any nightlife room. Together with him, we’re going to be a force to reckon with.”
Ask why the partnership between Dream and Strategic is so vital and Lindenbaum’s answer is simple: “The most important parts of the hotel experience are food and beverage and nightlife. Call Noah and you get both instead of one. It’s like having two aces in your hand right off the bat.”
Yet to be confirmed officially by Strategic: The scuttlebutt is that the hotel also has two forthcoming nightlife spaces. A small basement room will serve as a VIP lounge, and a 7,000-square-foot banquette room will double as an event space.