|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles
TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 09, 2010 - Celebrity photographer and music video director Matthew Rolston, who is helping a Los Angeles developer launch a hotel, hates beige. Or anything else that could be considered a safe choice in decorating.
That's why Rolston is doing his best to make sure the tone of the new Redbury in Hollywood goes over the top and stays there, in no way resembling an outpost of a big hotel franchise. Guests can expect, for example, a 20-foot red velvet curtain over the grand staircase, paisley throw pillows and old-fashioned record players in every room with vinyl albums to play on them.
As eclectic as the look is, it's not meant to be one of a kind. The owners of the hotel, CIM Group -- Hollywood's biggest commercial landlord -- and its manager, Sam Nazarian, say they plan to open five similar hotels in New York, Washington, Dallas and San Diego.
"Matthew and I worked very quickly and closely to find the DNA of this brand that we can roll out into multiple markets," Nazarian said. The Redbury is scheduled to open by the end of the month.
The sensibility Rolston went for is a mix of bohemian, 1960s flower power and old Hollywood. It's a concoction meant to attract guests in creative industries who need to settle in town for extended stays. He hopes to make the place homey and hip.
Although it has become a compliment to say that a decor feels "authentic," Rolston is having none of it.
"So many people are using the word authentic right now it makes me laugh," Ralston said. "This is Hollywood. The Redbury is going to be authentically fake -- in a fun, entertaining way."
Nazarian called on Rolston to jump into the project to liven it up like a Hollywood script doctor. The five-story building at the famed intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street was being completely rethought before it was even completed.
It had been originally envisioned as a $50-million condominium building and extended-stay hotel by its previous owner, Palisades Development, which lost control of the property in the recession when it was about 80% complete. CIM snatched it up in February for $15.8 million.
Separately, CIM is among the firms that paid middleman Alfred J.R. Villalobos to win investment money from the California Public Employees' Retirement System. The state has named Villalobos in an influence-peddling lawsuit, but CIM has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Ralston made up the hotel's name by crossing "red" for the color of the building with "bury" from Haight-Ashbury. Every suite will have washer-dryer units and kitchens outfitted with pots, plates and flea market tchotchkes. The concept is to mix luxury such as 300-thread-count Italian linens and Persian rugs with homey, boho touches like the record players.
"It channels Hollywood through a rock 'n' roll sensibility," Rolston said.
The target clientele is young-skewing, independent types, Nazarian said, who would sometimes like to do their own laundry or cooking. If a guest wants pasta, for example, the hotel staff could send up all the ingredients.
"Travelers today want to have the option of doing it themselves," he said.
Room rates will start at about $300 a night and hit $1,000 for two-bedroom suites. That's competitive with the glamorous new W Hollywood, also at Hollywood and Vine, where rooms start at about $350.
The Redbury might seem an especially risky venture during a down economy, and indeed hotels have had a rough go since corporate and leisure travel started to dry up in 2008. But the hotel business is finally showing signs of improvement, said analyst Brandon Feighner of PKF Consulting.
"Hollywood is recovering faster than other areas," Feighner said.
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