News for the Hospitality Executive
New York, NY (April, 3 2012) - In a landmark building on 39th Street, a transformation is underway. Walls are coming down, rooms redrawn… even the elevator bank has been moved. But all of this construction has nothing on the bigger changes being ushered in by The Pod 39 hotel, launching in June 2012. With its opening, The Pod 39 will signify the arrival of a new hotel brand from Richard Born and Ira Drukier of BD Hotels – and the evolution of a fresh approach to hospitality that developed naturally from the success of the original Pod on 51st Street. The 367-room Pod 39 will share its sibling’s genes – ultra affordable rates starting at $119, a vibrant communal space for travelers to socialize and connect, guest rooms with a stripped-down “small is beautiful” aesthetic – and add a buzzy casual dining restaurant and one-of-a-kind outdoor lounge on the Renaissance building’s magnificent 17th floor rooftop.
“This is a rare instance where a hotel genre has developed organically,” says Richard Born of BD Hotels. When we opened the first Pod five years ago, we found it attracted a very particular kind of person: individuals who thrive on travel and are looking for a hotel that enhances their exploration of a place. For them, the communal experience in the hotel’s public space is vital, being plugged-in is essential, and terrific style at an affordable price is expected.” Born identifies the Pod demographic as “18 to 85, all young at heart, and proud to have found us” and points out that the Pod typically hosts twice as many international guests as the average New York hotel – which bodes well for the brand’s planned expansion abroad.
At the Crossroads: The Pod 39 Public Spaces
Thanks to its previous incarnation as the Allerton House, a residential hotel for slightly down-at-heel gentlemen, The Pod 39 inherits a vast ground-floor lobby that is being reconfigured to create distinct public spaces while promoting a natural flow from one to another. After passing through a vibrant red-tiled vestibule, guests will enter a high space with a “window box” reception desk, a coffee bar, and a Pod-particular feature: a “screening wall” where guest photos and videos are projected around the clock.
To the left are sliding glass doors that open into the restaurant space; straight ahead, an illuminated light box containing the elevators and, opposite that, an interactive wall of oversized iPads, where guests can plot their next move. Just beyond this, another set of sliding glass doors reveal the Pod 39 Great Room. Once the “Gentlemen’s’ Sitting Room,” the space upholds its illustrious heritage by remaining proudly all-purpose: part restaurant-lounge, part library, part workspace and (large) part communal center of the Pod 39 social experience. The terra cotta floors and enormous east fireplace remain; the ceiling soars. But the Pod amenities ground everything in 2012 practicality: This is the place to both plan the day’s itinerary and celebrate its successful completion, the place to gather with your current party and to interact with your future friends.
The Pod 39 restaurant concept is in harmony with the hotel’s unique approach to hospitality – and its clients’ expectations. BD Hotels is currently working with exalted names in the New York restaurant pantheon to create elevated casual dining focused on that most democratic and international of foods: the taco. International tacos, to be sure, embracing the flavors of Ho Chi Minh City, Paris and the Lower East Side on their way to Baja California. The restaurant will have its own entrance from the street as well as access points at either end of the hotel (lobby and Great Room). Architectural pride of place will be given to the elevated taco-making stand, designed to establish the chef as rock star/DJ/MC.
The Pod 39’s final public space is its most remarkable. 17 floors above, the Pod team is transforming an already sublime rooftop setting into the ultimate under-the-stars gathering spot. In keeping with the building’s ornate Renaissance style, the two-story “cloister” is framed with brick arches and terra cotta columns. There are iconic vistas in every direction– east to the river, due south to the lower-Manhattan skyline, southwest to the nearby Empire State building, and north to the even closer Chrysler building. Come late spring, New Yorkers and guests will have hands down the most romantic gathering place in Manhattan, an ideal spot for a sunset cocktail or a moonlit bite to eat.
Tailored to Travelers: The Pod 39 Guest Rooms
The 367 guest rooms at The Pod 39 are a case study in thoughtful, imaginative design. Taking inspiration from space-confined modes of travel (planes, trains and ships), designer Vanessa Guilford, the designer of the original Pod Hotel, has outfitted them with custom modular furniture (fashioned from wear-and-tear-resistant Phenolic) that maximizes every inch. Room rates will start at $119 with three configurations available: bunk, double and queen, each with an en-suite bathroom. Surfaces gleam and fabric is kept to a minimum, shutters replacing musty drapes at the windows. And remarkably for a contemporary hotel, no two rooms are the same.
Says Guilford, “The Pod attracts people who are savvy about design and appreciate form that follows function – not design for design’s sake.” To that end, the rooms feature bedside media hubs with a full range of ports allowing guests to connect to the room, view personal photos, videos and entertainment on wall-mounted flat-screen TVs. Decorative elements take their cue from midcentury modernism: the light fixtures are a classic design from Leucos; the calendar wall clocks are inspired by the concourse displays and next train indicators. Closets aren’t enclosed at all: they’re sculptural pieces of furniture that fulfill the same purpose, with a bar for hangers and a bench for luggage or folded clothes.
Bathrooms have been cannily laid out to maximize light and extend the impression of space. Sliding glass doors are partially frosted for privacy. Terrazzo floors and white subway-tiled walls keep things stylishly clean. A mirrored wall extends from sink to shower. And, in a nice touch borrowed from the high seas, ceramic boat cleats serve as towel pegs.
“Pod People:” A Community of Like-Minded Individuals
As with every detail throughout The Pod 39, the guest rooms speak to a certain sensibility. One that values the simplicity of an immaculate, well-lighted space at an affordable price; that depends upon the latest technology to get the most out of travel; that is counting on a great night’s sleep and a good hot shower, but is eager to head downstairs to experience the destination – the lively crossroads of the hotel’s gathering places and the city just outside the hotel doors.
“The Pod is like no other hotel brand I know,” says Born. “From the moment we opened five years ago, we attracted a self-selecting community of individuals who really relish travel and the social experience around it. We have always looked to them to determine how to evolve. With Pod 39, we’re building upon all of that knowledge. It’s been an exciting process because it feels like we’re capturing the essence of travel, which is discovery.”
About BD Hotels
The Pod 39 is owned and operated by BD Hotels, which currently owns 21 hotels with more than 5,000 rooms, and is the largest independent hotel owner and operator in New York City. BD Hotels partners Richard Born and Ira Drukier are involved in the ownership and management of a number of other Manhattan hotels including The Bowery, The Maritime, The Jane, The Mercer, and Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel.
145 East 39th Street
New York, New York 10016.