After bumpy start, Marriott's Edition brand gains momentum

A guestroom at the Times Square Edition.
A guestroom at the Times Square Edition.

After a slow and somewhat rocky start, Marriott International's Edition luxury lifestyle brand looks to finally be hitting its stride.

Launched amid much fanfare in 2007, the Edition concept was born out of a collaboration between Marriott and Ian Schrager, the hospitality veteran best known for co-founding the 1970s New York hot spot Studio 54. 

Edition's splashy debut was poorly timed, however, with the financial crisis of 2008 quickly putting a damper on expansion plans. Despite targeting at least five development agreements by the end of its first year, the flag had just two properties, in Istanbul and Honolulu, by 2011.

That same year, the brand's Honolulu outpost, the Waikiki Edition, became embroiled in a high-profile legal tussle. The dispute, which involved the property's owners alleging that Marriott and Schrager had failed to provide adequate design and marketing support, ultimately resulted in the owners ousting Marriott as operator and reflagging the hotel as the Modern Honolulu.

Following those early setbacks, however, Edition appears to have undergone a reboot. The brand kicked off a renewed expansion drive in 2013, and although its Istanbul hotel later quietly left the fold, Edition's portfolio now spans nine locations: two in New York and one each in  London; Miami Beach; Barcelona; Shanghai and Sanya, China; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Bodrum, Turkey.

The brand's latest hotel is the Times Square Edition, which officially opened its doors earlier this month. Located within the 20 Times Square development on Seventh Avenue, the property is the brand's second in the city, following the 2015 opening of the New York Edition in the NoMad neighborhood.

The Times Square Edition has 452 guestrooms, including 27 suites and an 1,880-square-foot penthouse, and it houses several food and beverage outlets. The property's culinary programming is being spearheaded by John Fraser, who owns the Michelin-starred Nix restaurant in New York.

The hotel also offers a 3,000-square-foot nightlife and entertainment venue known as the Paradise Club. According to Schrager, the concept is a far cry from a traditional nightclub, with the space set to showcase theatrical programming from Brooklyn-based collective House of Yes. Performances will run the gamut from cabaret, circus acts, gospel music and classical ballet to aerial stunts, magic and opera.

"Nightclubs have a short shelf life, so it doesn't really pay to do them," Schrager said at a recent press event. "The door policy and things like that, I don't think people want to really do that anymore. But by adding a level of entertainment and art and visuals and making it available to everybody, because the product being offered does its own screening process automatically, I think that's the future of doing lifestyle [concepts] at night."

Meanwhile, Edition has more expansion in the works. The flag's 10th hotel is slated to open in West Hollywood, Calif., on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and North Doheny Drive later this year. The 190-room property will feature 5,200 square feet of meetings space, a restaurant, a basement club and a rooftop pool among other amenities.

"When we first launched, we figured Edition could grow to around 100 hotels," said Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson. He added that global gateway cities and well-established resort destinations remain targets for the Edition brand. "Then the recession came and cooled things a bit. But now, with nine hotels open, 18 in the pipeline and around 18 more [in talks], we do think the brand may have more room to grow than we originally planned."

Sorenson added that Edition wouldn't be afraid to double down in certain key markets, as it has done in New York.

"Some markets we may enter, like Washington, D.C., might be more of a one-location market," he said. "But in some big markets like Beijing or Shanghai, there could definitely be room for more than one Edition."

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