Ian Schrager Could Change the Way We Cruise Post-Coronavirus

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.

Ian Schrager Could Change the Way We Cruise Post-Coronavirus

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dan Callister/REX/Shutterstock (8867139g) Ian Schrager Ian Schrager, New York, USA - 07 Jun 2017 His hedonistic days may be far behind him, but 70-year-old hotelier and former nightlife impresario Ian Schrager June 07, 2016 still remembers the formula for what is needed to create and maintain the intangible commodity of ‘buzz’, an alchemy that requires, first and foremost, human bodies, and that’s exactly what was provided en masse last night at the opening of his newest venture, Public Hotels, at 215 Chrystie Street.

Photo by Dan Callister/REX/Shutterstock

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.”

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.

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Laura Dannen Redman is Afar’s editor at large. She’s an award-winning journalist who can’t sit still and has called Singapore, Seattle, Australia, Boston, and the Jersey Shore home. She’s based in Brooklyn with her equally travel-happy husband and daughters.
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