Hotel Trends: LXR's "London Bridge"

LXR Resorts, the newly formed collection of such trophy assets as San Juan's El Conquistador and Scottsdale's The Boulders, has been pretty adamant about emphasizing the uniqueness and "unbrandedness" of its iconic properties, which makes LXR's "London" experiment so interesting.

In 2007, LXR will relaunch Manhattan's former Rihga Royal and Los Angeles' former Bel Age as the 507-suite London NYC and 200-suite London LA. These properties, both all-suite, presented, in the words of John Tolbert, LXR's president of sales and marketing, a really interesting opportunity: "A chance to revitalize unique assets that were at one time the best real estate - then languished, due to changing market environments, new competition, and quite frankly, a lack of relevancy or currency to the customer. But," he adds, "at the end of the day, they were still in the best locations."

Taking a page from The Blackstone Group, which made similar changes to London's Barkley and Claridges hotels, LXR has partnered with interior-designer-to-the-stars David Collins (think Madonna, Sting, Ralph Lauren), restaurateur and enfant terrible Gordon Ramsay, and architect Thierry Despont (Statue of Liberty restoration, Getty Museum) to bring together their ultra-sophisticated sensibility for the first time in a U.S. hotel market.

But name it London? Seriously, says Tolbert, "We looked at many names, and we think the name 'London' in itself is one of the best brands. It represents things that are chic in one way, whimsical in others, and allows us to have an incredible canvas to work with."

As the London NYC readies for a spring '07 debut, a preview of its model suite reveals a living room with a round table that can shift between cocktail height and desk height to facilitate in-room meetings, a flat-screen TV, and workspace. A handsome dressing area leads to the bathroom, conceived and designed by Waterworks. And in a nod to the gadget of the times, bedrooms include an iHome clock radio, which is both intuitive to use and allows guests to enjoy their iPods in stereo sound. The premier of the London LA is schedule to follow in fall '07. "An urban experience," according to Tolbert, "that’s cutting edge, fun, with a lot of style and substance - we believe those qualities are what London represents."