A lot of New York’s hip hotels have a big name at the top: André Balazs, Jason Pomeranc and Sean MacPherson come to mind. Marc Gordon, the president of Morgans Hotel Group, doesn’t, but he’s okay with that. “By my definition, at least, I’m as much of an hotelier as anybody,” he insists. Even if Gordon has zero presence in the gossip columns, this 45-year-old father of three has made himself an integral part of the pioneering hotel company since joining its development team in 2005.
Sitting in the grandiose wood-paneled Library Bar at the group’s Hudson Hotel, Gordon mentions that he’s currently reading Richard Branson’s autobiography, Losing My Virginity. “[Branson is] definitely an iconoclast—as, hopefully, we are as a business,” Gordon says.
Morgans, which also owns The Morgans Hotel on Madison and the Royalton on 44th Street, is generally credited with introducing the boutique-hotel concept. The company prides itself on its diverse portfolio of stylish properties—on being more personable than “chains that base themselves on sameness,” as Gordon puts it—yet more reliable than the design-oriented competition.
“We’re more effective having a whole variety of people who are noteworthy in their own right,” Gordon explains. That team includes restaurant specialist Howard Wein, who will be working with celebrity chef Sam Talbot at Morgans’ soon-to-open Mondrian Soho, and nightlife maestro Ben Pundole, who earlier this year turned a former YMCA in the basement of the Hudson Hotel into Good Units, a sprawling party space that’s already hosted the likes of Chloë Sevigny and Naomi Campbell.
Tie a company to a single person, Gordon argues, and “when that person doesn’t want to do it anymore, it’s over.” Ironically, Morgans is a notable exception to that rule, having surged ahead despite the 2005 departure of founder Ian Schrager, arguably the most recognizable innovator in the hotel business.
Since then, Morgans has evolved with the times, moving into new markets—including San Francisco and London—and partnering with blue-chip designers like David Rockwell and Marcel Wanders. In 2007, Gordon, as the company’s chief investment officer, oversaw the somewhat-controversial (but roundly lauded) makeover of Philippe Starck’s iconic lobby at the Royalton, and the group recently returned its focus to its home city with the unveiling of the aforementioned Good Units during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and the Mondrian property on Crosby and Lafayette, scheduled to open in the fall.
A New York native who’s at ease discussing the Knicks and Yankees, Gordon says he’s glad there’s been enough of an economic rebound to enable the company’s downtown opening—the competition for cool points is a bit stiffer down there, after all. Like Pomeranc’s 60 Thompson, the Mondrian Soho will have a courtyard to ease the transition from street to lobby. Gordon smiles, albeit not cockily, at the comparison. “Ours is much deeper,” he says. Visit morganshotelgroup.com.