Chateau Marmont, one of LA’s most famous hotels, is to become even more exclusive after its owner said it would become members-only owned before the end of the year. Sam Ballard reports

Andre Balazs, the hotelier behind London’s Chiltern Firehouse and New York’s Mercer, is to make the iconic Chateau Marmont a members-only owned hotel before the end of the year. The move, which Balazs has mulled over for the last three years, was brought forward because of the global pandemic.

“There is something to be said for knowing people,” Balazs told The Wall Street Journal as to why he believed the new plan will work. “You can chat with them; you know where they have been.”

The legendary Los Angeles hotel, which is known for hosting the parties of Hollywood’s rich and famous, is to become the first property in what Balazs hopes will become a network of private members’ hotels.

Speaking to Variety, Balazs revealed that while he will retain majority ownership of the hotel, it will become member owned, in the form of property shares. Perks of membership will include use of a private butler, longer stays and the ability to store belongings at the hotel.

If they wish, members will be able to sell their shares back to management or to another pre-approved member.

He said: “So the business plan, as it were, is to recognise more and more people would rather live in a hotel, which is not atypical.

“I mean, this was also what the superwealthy did at the turn of the century. You’d have your country house, and then you’d have your suite at the Pierre or the Carlyle in New York, for example. And that was also true in London and in other places in Europe… Howard Hughes, who certainly had plenty of other places to live, also lived at the Chateau for periods of time.”

Mere mortals will still be able to visit the hotel, however, with common areas, including a restaurant, available for public access.

“Chateau Marmont is not going to be closed to the public,” Balazs said. “It’s not like we’re witnessing the closing of an era. What we’re witnessing is the opening of another era, where something that has always been private now just has an inner sanctum that’s even more private.”

“It’s almost safe to say, I think, that the Chateau Marmont has become somehow a living embodiment of Hollywood and a symbol of Hollywood,” he continued, “even more powerful than the Hollywood sign itself.”

A spokesperson for Andre Balazs Properties, the company behind the portfolio, told Travel and Leisure that while the transition to a members-only hotel won’t be a major change given that more than 70 per cent of Cheateau Marmont’s guests are repeat bookers.

Turning the Chateau Marmont into a members-only owned hotel fits in with the Elite Subscriptions trend that was cited in the recent Future of Luxury Travel Forecast 2020-2025.

Jenny Southan, founder of Globetrender, wrote: “In the 2020s, Netflix- style subscription business models will take off in the luxury travel realm, providing members with unlimited stays and experiences for monthly or yearly fees.”

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