At the intersection of luxury, lifestyle and hospitality are EDITION Hotels. Established in 2013, EDITION is brought to you by hospitality giants Ian Schrager and Marriott International, and within ten years, they’ve built a 15-strong collection of hotels that can be found everywhere from London to Los Angeles, each one tailored to and embracing the spirit of their locations. The aim? Well, it’s to redefine luxury. Long gone are the days of stuffy hotels; in the EDITION world, there’s a meeting of high design, glamour, playfulness, cultural happenings, and of course, excellent service, F&B, and entertainment for which Schrager is known.
With expansion on the horizon, hotels will pop up in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, and at the helm of this growth is Josh Fluhr, who has over 30 years of experience in the luxury hospitality realm, and was appointed Global Managing Director last year. Fluhr shares his insight on the evolution of the hospitality industry, EDITION’s global expansion and brand values.
Felicity Carter: Tell us about the EDITION brand, its consistencies, and its company pillars.
Josh Fluhr: EDITION is the perfect blend between luxury and lifestyle. We have redefined what luxury is, which resonates with a global audience as evidenced by the strength of the pipeline. Each hotel is unique capturing elements of the locale so that there is a sense of place, but you always know when you are in an EDITION hotel. The scent, the music and the service are tell-tail markers, and when you layer in a common design narrative, it is clear that you are at EDITION.
FC: Who is your guest?
Our guests have a common thread in that they share a similar mindset. We weigh heavily on psychographics versus traditional demographics, such as a guest’s lifestyle or interests. Our guests are looking for access and experiences they cannot find elsewhere. They are culturally aware and design-conscious. Excellent service is critical, but so are authentic experiences that are unique and personalized. This personalized service allows us to connect emotionally with guests and, ultimately, how to create deep loyalty.
Our guests are typically culturally aware and design-conscious, expecting excellent service but seeking an authentic experience. Knowing your guest matters, as it is the key to providing an authentic, welcoming experience that keeps them coming back. It also helps to inform everything from the design to the culinary offerings a hotel offers – the guest experience is everything.
FC: Can you sum up the EDITION guest experience?
We are committed to building a community and culture that ultimately provides the best possible guest experience through every aspect of what we do, from our outstanding employees at each hotel who deliver thoughtful service to every guest, innovative design, unique culinary experiences, and our commitment to cultural programming.
FC: Looking to the near future, EDITION is popping up around the globe from Italy to Saudi Arabia; how do you choose your locations, and how do you build the strategy?
The brand will undergo its most extraordinary growth surge yet, expecting to double in size to 30 hotels across three continents in the next two years, with hotel signings last year in several primary destinations, including Lake Como and the Red Sea. The expansion further cemented EDITION’s knack for landing in the right place at the right time.
We are very selective about where to target our following locations. We want to be in interesting sought-after places that in and of themselves are destinations. Our goal is to continue to create a globally diverse portfolio of hotels. One of the fantastic things we see when we open a new hotel is that we provide an entirely new audience of guests and developers the opportunity to experience the brand. This has a ripple effect where we see recent activity in adjacent markets. For example, since we opened The Tampa EDITION, we have seen increased interest from Central and South America.
FC: Tell us about the sites set to open in 2023?
With a portfolio of 15 hotels worldwide, we expect to open five new properties in 2023, with four in new destinations, including Rome, Mexico’s Riviera Maya at Kanai, Singapore, and Jeddah, along with a second Tokyo location in Ginza. Each hotel will remain original and authentic to uphold our brand promise. The goal is always to celebrate a location’s spirit, sense of community, and soul, providing guests with experiences that feel of the place but continue to challenge the status quo and maintain our position as the world’s hottest hotel brand.
FC: How do you ensure brand continuity with the different locations and cultures?
Each hotel reflects the current spirit and culture of its location while keeping its individuality and uniqueness – this underscores the EDITION brand. Although all the hotels look completely different, the brand’s unifying aesthetic is in its approach and attitude to the modern lifestyle rather than its appearance.
EDITION is about an attitude and how it makes you feel rather than how it looks. For example, the key idea is to go to any EDITION hotel and get a feel for what that city is all about while still recognizing that you are at an EDITION hotel. The recently opened Tampa EDITION is a microcosm of Tampa. Of course, people will leave the building at some point, but if they don’t, they could stay at the hotel and feel like they got an authentic view of the city.
Our modern approach to the luxury service experience, identifying talent, and nurturing our people is critical to the brand’s success and continuity of the guest experience. Another crucial component in brand continuity – is our signature scent; all EDITION hotels smell of a special black tea scent created by Le Labo, especially for us.
FC: You’ve had a longstanding career in the hospitality industry; how has it evolved within your 30 years in the business?
With 30 years in the business, I have been fortunate to be a part of several new brands, all within the lifestyle space. What continues to be exciting to me is that many of the same things that were successful 25 or 30 years ago are still important today. The goal is to connect people by creating exciting spaces and amenities (F&B, spas, retail, nightlife spaces, etc.) where guests can have fun and let loose but still be sure they will have a truly memorable luxury service. Of course, we have witnessed several economic cycles, massive technological shifts and increased competition. Still, people continue to be driven by travel and the desire to be together. Hence, while there is an evolution in the business, the core meaning of hospitality is stronger than ever.
Hotels have also become hubs and cultural destinations; they now attract locals looking for the best food, drink, and experiences rather than just a place to stay for travelers. Hotel restaurants used to be just bland international cuisine, but now they are an essential part of the hotel’s offers.
FC: In your opinion, what’s the key to success in the hospitality industry? What’s been your most significant learning?
On the service and design side, the key to success in the hospitality industry is to keep things simple and not overdo them. Guests today don’t want contrived fussy service or design. They want a great experience in a beautiful setting that doesn’t try too hard. On the developer/owner side, working with developers who share your passion for the brand and understand what they are buying is essential. It is a significant investment, and owners who are fully aligned with what the brand stands for and what has made it successful will build a hotel that is consistent with those values. Owners who have the same vision for their hotel as you do and vice versa will take the time to plan with you.
One of my biggest learnings is that you have to get a hotel program right. The facilities of a hotel are critical to the financial performance and have to match the location. Getting the right mix of suites to regular rooms, the correct number of food and beverage venues and a great set of amenities that match the market are critical.
FC: What can we expect from the EDITION brand evolution?
EDITION is introducing residential homes, as mentioned. This follows the success of EDITION residences as part of hotel developments in Miami, West Hollywood, and Tampa and provides our most loyal guests an opportunity to live the EDITION lifestyle without leaving home. For me, the ability to sell a branded residence is a significant proof point of the stickiness of the brand. To connect with a guest in such a way that they are willing to put down a considerable investment and make EDITION their home tells me we have something extraordinary.
The first EDITION Residential homes are under development in Miami Edgewater and Fort Lauderdale, anticipated to launch in 2026 and 2027, respectively, and represent a new generation of luxury homeownership, designed with EDITION’s signature fusion of modern sophistication and authentic creativity inspired by the locale. I expect you will see more of this in the future.
The future is bright for EDITION, and we are just getting started.
See more on editionhotels.com.