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Paramount Hotel: The Second Act -
Ian Schrager Takes His 'Urban Oasis' to Another Level
NEW YORK, April 27, 1998  - Following closely on the heels of the formation of Ian Schrager Hotels, a newly created company with aggressive expansion plans in the United States and abroad, renowned hotelier Ian Schrager has just completed the "reinvention" of Paramount, his hugely successful hotel in the heart of New York City's Times Square theater district. When Mr. Schrager opened the groundbreaking Paramount in 1990, it set a new industry standard -- affordable luxury that offered great value in a cool and sophisticated environment and an elegant gathering place for hotel guests and New York City dwellers alike. Indeed, Paramount, an instant temple of "Cheap Chic", was immediately recognized as much more than just a place to sleep. 

Now, in 1998, Mr. Schrager has revisited Paramount -- a hotel that has defied categorization -- and "refined" it with a totally modern and exciting sensibility. In keeping with the hotel's sense of whimsy, wit and charm, Mr. Schrager has not changed Paramount's essence or spirit, but instead taken them to a whole new level -- one that perfectly reflects the times. Once again, as it did in 1990, Paramount offers all who visit a separate, intense reality -- an always unpredictable sense of excitement and wonder. 

A 610-room hotel on Manhattan's West 46th Street, Paramount remains the embodiment of "Hotel as Theater," with an ever-changing ambiance that entertains and enchants its guests and visitors. As Mr. Schrager first conceived it, Paramount continues to refine the art of "Lobby Socializing" first introduced by Mr. Schrager and his late partner Steve Rubell in their now-classic Royalton Hotel on West 44th Street. 

Reflecting Mr. Schrager's unerring instinct for the tone and pulse of popular culture, Paramount offers the best of New York City right in its Lobby, where guests find more than they could ever have wished for in a hotel. For both guests and New Yorkers, this "Lobby Life" provides so many enticing alternatives -- restaurants, intimate bars and pulsing nightlife-that one scarcely has to leave the premises. Paramount is truly an "Urban Oasis" -- designed to lift one's spirits and enhance the enjoyment and fun of the world's most vibrant city. A unique production unto itself, the hotel is an up-to-the-minute social hub, a beehive of activity. 

To update Paramount, Mr. Schrager once again called upon Philippe Starck, one of the world's most acclaimed designers, and the force behind the hotel's original design. Mr. Starck is also responsible for the internationally hailed design of three of Mr. Schrager's other properties: Royalton in New York, Delano in Miami Beach and Mondrian in West Hollywood. In 1990, Mr. Starck created a true original, a hotel with a sense of humor, filled with wit, irreverence and magic. 

For Mssrs. Schrager and Starck, the decision to revisit Paramount was not without risk. They sought to maintain the original essence of a hotel that had been hugely successful and well-received on all fronts -- and imitated around the world-while at the same time imbue it with a modern sensibility that captured the times. This "new" Paramount would continue the tradition of Hotel as Theater that it first created -- but would take it to still another level altogether. 

Paramount's "Second Act" began, naturally, with its famed Lobby, where hotel guests and sophisticated New Yorkers gather day and night. With the exception of several signature works, the furniture in the lobby has been replaced with provocative, one-of-a-kind pieces. Most were designed by Mr. Starck exclusively for Paramount; others were carefully chosen by Mr. Starck over the past several years from some of his favorite haunts -- the flea markets of Paris and London; and still other new pieces were handpicked by him from an international cast of renowned architects, designers and furniture masters. This alluring juxtaposition of the comfortingly familiar and the boldly new serves to reaffirm the Lobby as the hotel's emotional and spiritual center, its heart and soul. 

A one-of-a-kind Custom Light Installation, created by Tony Award-winning lighting designers Jules Fisher and Paul Marantz, was commissioned exclusively for the sweeping Lobby Staircase. This innovative, computer-driven installation uses light fixtures previously seen only in theater and concert settings to provide subtle, nuanced changes in lighting throughout the day. This ever-changing "light tableaux," capable of an infinite number of light variations, plays upon the Lobby much the same way that daylight evolves into night-thus altering the mood and feel of the entire Lobby. 

On the Mezzanine is the Library Bar, an extraordinary new space under the direction of Rande Gerber, proprietor of such Ian Schrager Hotels hotspots as Mondrian's Skybar, Morgans Bar and the Whiskey Bar at Paramount. 

This exceptional room offers the perfect counterpoint to the excitement and highly charged energy of the Lobby. This cozy, comfortable alternative, with its warm lighting and rich, mahogany walls, feels more like a drawing room in an old, familiar home than a traditional bar. A handpicked selection of antique and contemporary books line high shelves, providing a wide range of reading materials to satisfy the eclectic tastes of customers from the worlds of fashion, design, media, film, business, theater and entertainment. Soothing videos from a specially commissioned collection of international video artists appear on flat-screen monitors set flush with the wall. 

The Mezzanine Restaurant overlooking the Lobby has also undergone a transformation to reflect the way modern people live and eat. With the assistance of restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow, of China Grill, Morgans' Asia de Cuba and Blue Door at Delano, the chic Restaurant reinterprets the traditional functions of a lounge, coffee shop, dining room and bar. The imaginative cuisine now includes a superb tasting and tapas menu-inspired by Latin culture, but with a distinctly American twist. This streamlined, even simplified, eating experience is ideal for Paramount's cutting-edge, on-the-go clientele. 

Like Paramount's public spaces, the pristine white guest rooms stay true to their playful, original spirit and charm-but with an infusion of modern sensibility and an increased accent on luxury, convenience and comfort. All the furniture has been redesigned by Mr. Starck to reflect the softer, lighter feel that pervades the hotel. Desks have been fitted with imported Italian marble tops, and new desk lamps cast a warm, soothing glow. The rooms' famed headboards, which have always featured a striking, gilt-framed image of Vermeer's "The Lacemaker," are now complemented by four other images by the 17th-century Dutch master: "The Astronomer"; "The Girl With a Pearl Earring"; "The Girl With A Red Hat"; and "Woman in Blue Reading a Letter." Still other headboards have been redone with stark white canvas-creating a sort of modernist tableau. 

Remarkably, each of these six images imparts an entirely different mood upon every room that range from minimalist, almost Zen-like calm, to warm and comforting to bold and witty. Custom-dyed Scottish lambswool throws complete Paramount's lighter, warmer feel. 

Since Paramount first opened, there have been a number of significant on-site additions. The exuberant Whiskey Bar is one of New York's perennial hotspots. Restaurateur Pino Luongo's stylish Coco Pazzo Teatro attracts both theatergoers and devotes of creative Italian fare. And, at year's end, Mr. Schrager is at last set to reopen the legendary Diamond Horseshoe as an ultramodern nightclub -- the ultimate multimedia playground. 

"An enormous amount of thought and creativity has gone into this 'Second Act' for Paramount," says Ian Schrager. "When we first opened, our intention was to shake things up, break a few rules and topple a few sacred cows. This time around, we could have played it safe, maintained the status quo, but that's never been our style. Our challenge was to keep intact all the elements that first made the hotel so theatrical and original, but at the same time take it to a new level by invigorating it with the kind of modern, up-to-the-minute sensibility that our clientele has come to expect from us." 

Paramount is one of an expanding number of properties owned and operated by Ian Schrager Hotels (ISH), a newly formed company of which Mr. Schrager serves as chairman and chief executive officer. ISH now operates Paramount, Morgans and Royalton in New York, Delano in Miami Beach, Mondrian in Los Angeles and Clift in San Francisco. The company is developing six new hotels: the Henry Hudson and McAlpin in New York; the Miramar in Santa Barbara; the Clift in San Francisco; and the St. Martin's Lane and Sanderson in London. In addition, ISH is working on a number of other property transactions that are in various stages of development. With ISH, Mr. Schrager will vigorously pursue his strategy of developing multiple properties at various price points in international gateway cities in North America and abroad. 

Nathalie Moar of 
Dan Klores Associates, Inc., 212-685-4300
for Ian Schrager Hotels

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