Scheduled for a June 2022 opening, the club will be located in a 95,000-sq. ft. building near the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine and include a 35-room hotel. Created by Salt Hotels to be the “anti-Soho House [and] break all the old rules,” according to CEO David Bowd, those who want to join, at $3,600/year in dues, will not have to go through a membership committee. “There really isn’t criteria for becoming a member,” Bowd said. “It’s not about like-minded creative individuals. It’s a melting pot of people from different backgrounds—and this is how we feel about the membership clubs of the future. The new element of being cool is actually being community first.”
A building near the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, Calif., and that once was home to SBE’s Redbury Hotel and later Paul Allen’s h Club, will have a third act as The Aster, a hybrid project that will combine a 35-room hotel and a private members’ club, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Expected to open in June, The Aster is being created by Salt Hotels, according to The Reporter, and private member dues will be $3,600 a year.
The hotel and a rooftop restaurant will be open to the public, and the development also will include co-working spaces, a roof deck with an outdoor movie theater, a gym, hair and beauty salon, screening room and recording studio, according to The Reporter. Two floors of the project will be dedicated to spaces for members. “There will be lots and lots of amazing amenities,” said Kevin O’Shea, chief creative officer of Salt Hotels.
The 95,000-sq. ft. building, O’Shea added, “has these incredible views of the Capitol Records Building and The Hollywood Sign.”
Even with the many private clubs that are now vying for clients in Los Angeles, O’Shea told The Reporter that he believes there’s room for one more, especially given that so many workers are less tied to a five-day week at offices.
“I think people with all this newfound flexibility are going to be looking for social spaces like this,” he said. “You could come in, get a couple of hours work done in one of the co-working spaces, then maybe do a workout, get cleaned up, go have a cocktail, meet some clients and maybe get a room for the night so you don’t have to drive home.”
The Salt Hotels owners, who also operate the Hotel Greystone in Miami, Fla.; Hutton Brickyards in Kingston, N.Y.; and the Salt House Inn and Eben House in Provincetown, Mass., say they are hoping to attract a wide range of people as members and put a focus on programming and events for its clients, according to The Reporter.
“There isn’t a membership committee that you have to go through to apply,” explained Salt Hotels CEO David Bowd. “You know there are so many different groups of people in L.A.—musicians, artists, investors, younger people, older people. Let’s have a mix of all these people.”
“Hollywood is so gritty and it’s such an interesting mix of companies and people that have come together in Hollywood,” Bowd added. “We like it, you know, a little grittier, a little more down to earth and authentic. And the location being Hollywood and Vine — it doesn’t get much more iconic than that.”
Bowd told Fortune magazine that he sees The Aster as an “anti-Soho House” that will “break all the old rules.”
Tucked in next to a 100-year-old music theater and across the street from the Capitol Records building from which Beatles music was first distributed in the U.S., the $4 million-plus Aster project will blend the hospitality of a boutique hotel with the cultural programming (Ted Talks, master classes, music shows and performances) of a high-flying members club, Fortune reported. Children will be allowed at the pool on weekends, but dogs will not be.
Snobbery and being exclusionary have been the furthest thing from his mind when planning the club, Bowd told Fortune. People in a post-coronavirus world don’t want orchestrated caste systems, he said, and the successful private members club must provide a haven of kindness, not a transactional space based on status or that meant to prove to everyone else in the room how cool you are.
“There really isn’t criteria for becoming a member [of The Aster],” Bowd told Fortune. “It’s not about like-minded creative individuals. It’s a melting pot of people from different backgrounds—and this is how we feel about the membership clubs of the future.”
Named after the purple flowers that extend multi-spoked blooms in LA’s summer, The Aster comes as a response to such clubs as Soho House, which evaluate prospective members by screening social-media pages, dating apps, and cultural connections before deciding whether to let them become members, Fortune reported. Anyone who wants to become an Aster member is welcome, Bowd said.
Aster also stands against Soho House-style practices that have front-desk staff meeting guests with lists of proper club etiquette, such as where they are allowed to use cell phones, laptops, or even hold conversations, Fortune reported. “We don’t have rules,” Bowd said. “We don’t even have check-in times.”
At its peak, the Aster will employ nearly 200 people throughout the company, including at three restaurants and four bars, Fortune reported.
The Aster will work with nearby shelters on food-sharing and employment programs and partner with the Hollywood Food Coalition to provide regular donations, training, coaching, and community volunteering, O’Shea told Fortune.
“We are coming to this entire development from a place of hospitality,” he said. “We are approaching this as we would be treating members as we would guests in our luxury hotels. The hospitality, I think, will really resonate with people.
“Cool isn’t a formula,” he added. “It comes down to what are the flowers in the bathroom, the music volume is a little too high, that song is terrible, what is the scent in the lobby, how are we pumping it in, what is the right amount to use, what is the weight of the fork, the knife? This is the kind of craziness that keeps [Bowd] and I up at night.”
A sense of we’re-all-in-this-together family values—such as cutting pay instead of laying off staff at many properties—are what kept his company afloat through the pandemic, Bowd added—and that aligns with the values of private-club members today, he believes.
“Guest perception has changed,” he added. “Guests today want to go somewhere that actually does care about the community and about guests and about its employees. The new element of being cool is actually being community first.”
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