Boutique hotel pioneer Ian Schrager on the changing notion of luxury

Ian Schrager has revolutionized the entertainment and hospitality industries over the past four decades. He first made a name for himself in the 1970s as co-founder of the legendary nightclub Studio 54, a hot spot for celebrity guests. Then in 1984, the entrepreneur introduced the world's first boutique hotel, and it radically changed the hotel industry.

More than 30 years later, his hotels still shake up the hospitality market with their stylish designs and attention to detail. The hotelier's latest project is the PUBLIC Hotel in New York City with the mantra, "luxury for all."


Ian Schrager

CBS News

"Everything changes – culture, fashion, everything – except hotels haven't changed. And I think the very notion of luxury has changed. And it shouldn't be about our price or business classification, it should be about an experience," Schrager said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning." "And anybody and everybody that wants to participate with luxury should have the opportunity to do it."

The rooms start at $150 a night. There's no room service and no front desk – you can check in yourself on an iPad.

"I always hear this thing about when you put in technology, it lacks a personalization. But I think that's hogwash. I mean, if the technology is done well, if it's executed well, if it has that wizardry about it, it elevates the spirit and lifts the experience," Schrager said.

It's also a response to hospitality services like Airbnb in the era of the sharing economy.

"Airbnb is really a disruptive idea. And the only way to compete with a disruptive idea is to come up with another disruptive idea," Schrager said. "And I think the only way the hotel industry can compete with Airbnb is to do those things Airbnb cannot do, which is to provide social and communal spaces and experiences. And that's what we've been doing for 30 years and we'll continue to do it."

In September, Schrager released his book, "Studio 54," to commemorate the nightclub, which he called a "phenomenon."

"It made the heart beat faster. It's difficult to put it in a box and define it. It's just when you went there, it's like, it was something really special. It was transformative," Schrager said. "It gave you an absolute freedom, which is an idea we all seek. And that's why I think 40 years later, people are still mesmerized by it and still talk about it."

 He said he's trying to recreate that "magic" through his hotels. 

Public Hotel