Democratized Exclusivity: Ed Scheetz’s Vision of a Boutique Hotel

In a temporary housing market that is oversaturated by chain hotels and short-term apartment rentals, real estate mogul Ed Scheetz is working to create a unique hotel experience. For Scheetz, the idea of a “boutique hotel” no longer entails just hiring a good designer. Rather, he hopes to create a space where people can experience a sense of belonging. In his hotels, overnight and day guests can do work in the morning, grab lunch in the afternoon, and socialize over drinks at night. Scheetz coined the term “democratized exclusivity.” In his words, “with democratic exclusivity, anybody can come in, the doors are wide open, but the people who take to and understand the environment will self select. They will become the core group of customers in this industry.” This sense of self-selective membership is something that Scheetz thinks will benefit the generation of 24-50 year olds, who largely are not members of social or country clubs, but who still want a sense of tradition and membership in their lives.

One method Scheetz proposes for creating a sense of democratized exclusivity is including large public spaces at the base of hotels. Ideally, these public spaces will be multipurpose, allowing for different activities at different times of the day. Sheetz praised the example of Tao and Catch: these large restaurants incorporate a club-like atmosphere, and transition into lounges as the night progresses. The multipurpose nature of Tao and Catch allows customers to eat a good meal, stay until late if they like, and, most importantly, talk to each other. This model would be more effective in a hotel than a normal night club, which normally brings in a more rowdy crowd, and offers nothing to guests before midnight.

Scheetz focuses on hotel markets in New York, Miami, and LA, but is currently expanding his holdings to include hotels in London. He also hopes to put his hotels on Airbnb in the future. Scheetz says, “I want to be on their platform. I want people who are looking on Airbnb to say, ‘Oh, I could be in this apartment for $200 a night, or I could stay in a hotel full service for $310.’ I think the customer is ultimately better served by being able to look at both options.” If and when Airbnb opens its doors to hotels, Scheetz and his democratically exclusive establishments could benefit drastically. Once customers can read reviews of boutique hotels and their social spaces alongside reviews of apartments, they may realize what they’re missing out on: a sense of community.