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Ian Schrager Could Change the Way We Cruise Post-Coronavirus

By Laura Dannen Redman

Apr 27, 2020

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Photo by Dan Callister/REX/Shutterstock

The legendary hotelier and Studio 54 cofounder was “playing around” with an idea back before the pandemic—and if anyone knows how to reinvent an industry, it’s Schrager.

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It was only a whisper of an idea—a casual mention at the end of an hour(s)-long roundtable conversation hosted by Travel Weekly in February—but Ian Schrager, the man “who changed the way we live our lives, entertain ourselves, party, dance, socialize, holiday, work, dine, drink, play, shop and even how we see the world” (says he) definitely went on the record saying he’s “playing with” the idea of a cruise line. Now, even if you’ve never heard of Schrager and don’t care to set foot on a cruise ship, wouldn’t you want to know what that experience would be like? 

If you’re quietly saying “yes, please,” know this: Schrager has spent the past 50 years reinventing nightclubs (those Studio 54 theme parties and rotating sets), hotels (he’s the godfather of the boutique hotel, the maker of the Public and the Edition brands), and the way we generally think about hospitality—and with his vision, a kind of exclusivity. He’s credited with sticking the first red-velvet-rope barrier outside a club and designing the “lobby scene” that paved the way for hotels like the Ace. Schrager could teach a college course on “creating spaces people clamor to get into.”

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So if anyone could help rehabilitate cruising’s image post-coronavirus pandemic, it’s probably Schrager. Back in February, he told us, “I think it’s just spectacular to do a cruise line and I would definitely do it—that’s a logical extension of a hotel. I’m playing around with something right now.” And if COVID-19 hasn’t ruined his ambitions, Schrager could develop a cruise line that colors outside the lines. Long inspired by the “magic and alchemy” of the world of Walt Disney, Schrager called out the Imagineer-designed Disney ships as a great examples of creativity in the industry. He also liked the idea of a smaller ship—“they don’t have to be these incredibly tall, 10-story ships,” he said—or a ship to nowhere, akin to a hotel permanently docked in Lower Manhattan.

“You can have segmentation with the ships the same way you have with hotels,” Schrager said. “You can pick the ship that gives you the experience that you’re looking for. I think that’s the future.” 

Read the full interview with Ian Schrager at travelweekly.com.

>> Next: New Zealand Could Pull Off Bold Goal of Eliminating Coronavirus

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