It will certainly be interesting to see how Ace approaches both luxury and micro-hotels starting in the next few months.
The team behind Ace Hotels, a brand that pioneered its own genre of boutique hotels in the late 1990s, is officially entering the luxury market with its newest project: a 67-room hotel in New Orleans.
Called Maison de la Luz, the “distinctive new guest house” was designed with Studio Shamshiri, whose two founders have previously worked on Ace Hotel projects. It’s set to open next spring and will feature a library bar and what the Atelier Ace team described as “curated concierge service.”
Details and specifics about the new project are — in true Atelier Ace fashion — rather scant, but the company did issue the following statement to Skift, noting that while it’s a one-off for now, it’s a concept that could potentially expand to other destinations:
“Maison de la Luz is the first property in a new distinctive luxury concept by Atelier Ace, the creative studio behind Ace Hotel. We hope there will be more opportunities in other cities, however New Orleans’ singular spirit made it the perfect city to lay the foundation for Maison de la Luz.”
Kelly Sawdon, chief brand officer for Atelier Ace, said in a statement: “Our love of New Orleans inspired us to think about different ways to activate its beauty. Maison de la Luz is a relaxed and idiosyncratic entry point to the city, allowing guests the freedom to explore New Orleans’ singular vibrance, or to seek refuge in a resplendent and private space.”
Ace Hotels already has a property in New Orleans, but the new Maison de la Luz — as far as we can tell — will be more targeted to a luxury audience than the Ace Hotels brand.
While some Ace Hotels properties could potentially align themselves as being part of a more accessible — and affordable — subset of luxury or lifestyle hospitality, the Ace brand was never intended to be a luxury product. In fact, when it opened in 1999, the first Ace Hotel, which was in Seattle, was best described as more of a hostel-like boutique hotel — some rooms didn’t even have bathrooms — than the upscale lifestyle brand that it is today.
This gradual transition into the luxury realm is reflective of the maturation and increasing diversification of the Atelier Ace portfolio to expand beyond the namesake Ace brand. And it shows that even the most pioneering and innovative brands have realized the importance of evolution and consumer demands for different types of products, experiences, and price points.
Later this year, Atelier Ace is opening a new 200-room hotel called Sister City in New York. While Maison de la Luz is being billed as a luxury product, however, Sister City is being marketed as “an experiment in essentialism.” In other words, it’s Ace’s take on the micro-hotel concept.
Both Sister City and Maison de la Luz, however, are being marketed as places where people can “seek refuge” — something the original Ace Hotels brand didn’t necessarily emphasize with its popular communal public spaces and event venues. It will be interesting to see how Atelier Ace balances guests’ desires for more communal spaces with these more restful dwellings going forward.
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Photo credit: One of the guest rooms at the new Maison de la Luz guesthouse in New Orleans, which is Atelier Ace's first luxury project. Stephen Kent Johnson / Atelier Ace