Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ace Hotel: How You Want to Travel - Simple, Stylish and Not Too Expensive

When Seattle friends Alex Calderwood, Wade Weigel and Doug Herrick initially dreamed of opening a hotel, they had a very specific idea of what they wanted– and it didn’t fit with the standard hotel business plan. Their idea was to create a place their friends and acquaintances would want to stay – DJs, artists, magazine creators, graphic designers, musicians – the creative types who have been behind the evolving cultural renaissance of the Pacific Northwest of the last decade, and who aren’t, generally speaking, awash with cash.
The recipe involved taking a characterful old building in an emerging location, a small budget requiring lateral thinking and some clever industrial salvage, a design aesthetic that mixes uncluttered comfort with a bohemian vibe, and the experience that comes from being a seasoned traveler and knowing what you do and don’t need when it comes to resting your weary head. Pay-per-view TV? No thank-you. Free Wi-Fi internet access? Of course. They also wanted their hotel to be linked to the local culture, a living part of the community – like the experience of staying with friends who are plugged into the local scene.
The Ace team are a curious hybrid – romantics with an unswerving business savvy, easy-going yet ultra-professional. They’re not interested in cooler-than-thou design statements, but in creating a hotel with soul. In doing so, they’ve tapped into what a growing market of cultural influencers and opinion leaders want, and inadvertently created their own marketing machine. Any new hotel can make bold statements and win PR hype when it launches– but it takes word of mouth recommendations to make a business flourish. It wasn’t long before Time Magazine nominated the Ace team as “the next wave” of hoteliers in a list of 100 innovators.
In March 2007, Ace Hotel opened its second hotel in Portland. With its 79 rooms (compared to Seattle’s 28), its restaurant, coffee shop, exhibition and event space, the Portland hotel is both bigger and heralds greater ambitions. Consolidating the team’s design ethos and business values, Ace Hotel Portland will become the flagship hotel for the group–an illustration of what happens when you get a bunch of talented individuals together who approach their task with passion and commitment.

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