Joyce Chen -MSN
he Chateau Marmont, the beloved hotel nestled into the base of the Hollywood Hills on the Sunset Strip, is about to become a private members-only club. According to André Balazs, the hotelier who owns the celebrity hot spot—along with a few other chic resorts—it no longer makes sense to operate the Chateau Marmont as a traditional hotel given the current social and economic climate.
Instead, he’s hoping to convert the property, which was originally designed by architects Arnold A. Weitzman and William Douglas Lee in the late 1920s, into a club with annual membership dues. “There is something to be said for knowing people,” Balazs told the Wall Street Journal of the psychological comforts of a more exclusive model. “You can chat with them; you know where they have been.”
Over the years, the Chateau Marmont has served as the backdrop to many a celebrity rendezvous and celebration, with everyone from James Dean to Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor to Lindsay Lohan, gracing its floors. (Lohan famously lived at the Chateau Marmont for several months in 2012 while playing, coincidentally, Elizabeth Taylor in the TV movie Liz & Dick. She ran up an astronomical bill of $46,350.04 and was reportedly evicted.)
The move to make the hotel into a members-only club isn’t that farfetched, Balazs told the WSJ, because even as a public business now, most guests are “never more than one degree of separation away.” Indeed, historically, the hotel has been a place for Hollywood’s elite to escape from prying eyes. Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, famously told two of his young stars, “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.” It was at the Chateau that Jim Morrison of the Doors supposedly jumped off the roof; members of Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles through the lobby in the 1960s; and comedian John Belushi died of a heroin overdose in 1982. Leonardo DiCaprio, Greta Garbo, Robert De Niro, and Sofia Coppola have also frequented the Chateau.
Balazs hopes to convert the property to the new model by the end of 2020. He also plans to hire mostly new staff, reports WSJ, after laying off most of his employees at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, former staffers protested the lack of severance packages and extended health insurance.