The Bernic Hotel in New York City, which will open before summer's end, plans to appeal to the global urban explorer with its design and technology, all the while drawing inspiration from the nearby United Nations.
NEW YORK CITY—The Bernic family has spent more than 40 years in the midscale apartment business in Manhattan and Queens, but while perusing new buildings that were primed for apartments, they stumbled upon an opportunity.
That opportunity was to develop a hotel at 145 East 47th Street in the heart of Midtown Manhattan East.
“They had never done hotels, so this was their first hotel,” said David Lopez, GM of the Bernic Hotel, which is set to open before summer’s end in 2016. “For them the element that was interesting is that the land came with a plan for a hotel.”
With plans already approved by the city, the Bernic family quickly got to work on seeking a management company to operate the 22-story, 96-room boutique hotel located in historic Midtown Manhattan’s Turtle Bay neighborhood.
Marshall Hotels and Resorts was chosen to manage the Bernic Hotel, and the interior and exterior designs were done by Hersha Purchasing & Design and C3D Architecture. Once the development and management teams were in place, Lopez said it was then that the team went through a comp-set review of as many properties as possible.
“We did a SWOT analysis and business intelligence plan from a Marshall (Hotels and Resorts) perspective, and we then did a brainstorming session of what we were going to be,” Lopez added. This included looking at other hotels within a six-block radius, particularly the independent hotels.
Appealing to the urban explorer
After doing the analysis, Lopez said the Bernic team came up with the four distinct characteristics of the hotel: The United Nations, technology, always-authentic service and art.
Lopez is a 19-year veteran of the boutique and lifestyle segment, so when the team came up with these four characteristic pillars, he said they didn’t want to steer too far from the staples of what makes a boutique hotel special.
“Ian Schrager being the godfather of everything (boutique), you don’t go too far from the elements that he taught,” Lopez said.
Keeping Schrager’s teachings in mind, the Bernic focuses on art and culture, but in a unique way. With the hotel just a few blocks from the United Nations, the hotel's artist-in-residence Ian Sklarsky* decided to focus on eight cities throughout the 22-story hotel: New York, Dubai, London, Paris, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo. Sklarsky, a mixed media artist, produced murals that show cityscapes using his blind contour technique, Lopez said. Every two stories of the hotel will represent a different city with the exception of New York, which will have three stories.
The concept is still evolving, Lopez said. For instance, the design team recently realized they had forgotten literature in the rooms, so they added reading materials about the eight different U.N. cities.
“It’s a really soft experience. A lot of the times boutique hotels really go hard on that concept and really put it out front,” Lopez said. “We put it on our literature and our explanation of what we do. It’s not so glaring to the guest until they actually get here.”
Digging into differentiators
There are quite a few things the Bernic is doing to differentiate itself from the countless boutique hotels in New York City, Lopez said, and art and technology are two of them.
“We’ve done a really great job with tech,” he said. “We spent a good amount of money to put in a DAS (distributed antenna system) to cover the full hotel and in the basement.”
They also added Apple TV to all 96 guestrooms, Lopez added.
“We want to make the experience in the hotel really easy for the guest,” Lopez said, adding that while no one really knows what makes everyone comfortable, it’s what all hoteliers aim for when designing a guestroom.
The hotel’s layout is another thing that sets the Bernic apart from other hotels in Midtown Manhattan and the surrounding area.
“(The Bernic) is very residential actually,” Lopez said, adding that the building has bright hallways, tall doors and outdoor balconies attached to most of the guestrooms.
Lastly, the hotel has a unique restaurant space, Lopez said. Allora, a 1,600-square-foot, 72-seat restaurant will bring the spirit of old New York to the hotel. There will also be a small rooftop space that won’t be huge but big enough to be curated, Lopez said.
“The Bernic has really honed in the experience we’re creating for the guest,” Lopez said. “The guest will react very well to it.”
*Correction: 28 July 2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the design team as the creators of the art concept.