Schrager's Latest Further Proof of Industry Rebound, Lifestyle Legitimacy

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The man who helped pioneer the boutique hotel concept 26 years ago is back with plans to redefine it with two new lifestyle brands. Ian Schrager, of Studio 54 fame and the original founder of Morgans Hotel Group, last week sold his stake in Manhattan's Gramercy Park Hotel and launched Schrager Hotels.

The new company will feature a luxury lifestyle brand and a stylish, less expensive lifestyle brand with both targeting international gateway cities. The first of the two brands will debut in Chicago next September with the former Ambassador East, which is currently undergoing renovations.

Details, including the names of the new brands, haven't been released yet and which the Ambassador fits into is also yet to be determined. How this news plays with Marriott remains to be seen. Schrager is creative director and the co-creator of Marriott's Edition brand, which debuted in Waikiki earlier this year. His new brands won't be direct competitors, but they won't be far off, either.

Plenty of questions remain, but one thing is clear. Schrager is betting big on the recovery of the hotel industry and he's clearly not deterred by the recent surge in lifestyle and boutique brands.

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