Hospitality Design - July 2011 - 104
Sant Singh and Vikram Chatwal
Hampshire Hotels & Resorts and Vikram Chatwal Hotels, New York
Father-and-son team Sant Singh and Vikram Chatwal represent the old and new guard of the hospitality business. And together, they are helping to redeﬁne the lifestyle hotel. But that wasn’t always the case. Sant is the CEO of Hampshire Hotels & Resorts, which started in New York in 1986 with franchised properties like Hilton, Choice, Days Inn, and Hampton Inn. So when his son, Vikram Chatwal, joined the company and wanted to open a boutique hotel called the Time in 1999, Sant wasn’t completely on board. “My father and I had different opinions about the ‘boutique hotel’ avenue—I thought it was a revolutionary idea for the time, which it was, but he was accustomed to hotels as somewhere you went that was
Right, from top: A guestroom and the pool at Dream Downtown in New York. Middle, from top: Sant Singh and Vikram Chatwal. Bottom left: Dream Downtown’s lobby, with a view into the glass-bottom pool.
South Beach and Dream Downtown in New York, happening last month. Think classic Miami Beach Art Deco but with a touch of old-school glamour mixed with a hint of ’70s French-Moroccan for the South Beach property designed by Architropolis, while the Downtown property boasts a gallery vibe infused with New York’s artful grittiness, courtesy of Handel Architects. “Though very different, they signal a new chapter for the brand,” Vikram says. “We’ve kept the signature ‘Dream’ touches—i.e., the eclectic design, surrealistic touches. However, we have updated hotel features to reﬂect what guests are seeking today (top-of-the-line nightlife and food and beverage).” And that’s just the beginning. They are reworking another of their New York one-offs, the Night hotel, into a more value-driven product to rollout to both primary and secondary markets (part of the agreement with Wyndham). First up: the Night Noho in Manhattan set to open next year. And they are looking to expand
separate from your lifestyle, as opposed to reﬂecting and enhancing it,” Vikram explains. “Over the years he has since come around.” That’s deﬁnitely true. Under Hampshire, they have made headlines with the President Hotel, a Best Western infused with a surprising, funky, politically charged décor, as well as the ﬁrst property of Sant’s namesake luxury brand, the Chatwal, what he calls a “fresh perspective on the luxury hotel experience.” Meanwhile, under the Vikram Chatwal Hotels umbrella, they have turned the Dream brand into one to be reckoned with. Besides locations in midtown Manhattan, Cochin, India, and Bangkok, they have entered a franchise agreement with Wyndham Hotels and Resorts to rollout the brand nationwide and internationally (like Paris, London, Washington, DC), with the ﬁrst openings, Dream
the Chatwal brand to London and India. When asked the key to working together, almost in unison they answer that leaving emotions out of the workplace is essential. Yet their secrets to success? “It’s a simple answer, and yet not at all: hard work and setting no limitations. I pride myself on always having a singular vision and foresight,” Sant says. As for Vikram, “[It’s] to constantly travel and collect ideas and threads of inspiration. I’ve sourced décor ideas everywhere from a 5-Star hotel in Paris to the open-air markets in India. Keeping an open mind is important, but it’s also equally important to know your roots and ground yourself in what makes you—and likewise your brand—unique in the ﬁrst place. I have to credit my father for that last lesson.” hd