Scene kings Ian Schrager and Andre Balazs might have invented this game, but for my money there’s no cooler hotel operator than Sydell Group.
Sydell, a partnership between Andrew Zobler and billionaire investor Ron Burkle, creates properties that are both swanky and welcoming (see: the NoMad Hotel and chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s NoMad restaurant in New York). Their places are polished but edgy, luxurious but indie, multi-faceted and inventive and personality-driven in the manner of Kanye West’s best work.
Sydell runs the Freehand, a hostel in Miami where French Vogue’s New York correspondent stayed during Art Basel. (For those without a Condé Nast expense account but with a healthy attitude about sleeping next to strangers, the property includes shared rooms with bunk beds.) The Freehand is home to my favorite bar in America, the Broken Shaker, an outdoor oasis where I’ve played Jenga while lounging on purposefully mismatched furniture and getting buzzed on glorious punch bowls made with fresh herbs proprietors Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta grew in their garden. The Broken Shaker is also where I saw Mario Carbone play ping-pong with Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi during an impromptu Roy Choi birthday party on a late South Beach Wine & Food Festival night.
Unforgettable nights like this, even more than the rush of poker tournaments and tasting menus and 5 a.m. Kaskade sets and 24-hour party people, are why a lot of us travel.
So here’s hoping that Sydell Group, which has partnered with MGM Resorts on the remake of the Monte Carlo into a NoMad and the separate Park MGM property, doubles down on its unmistakable brand of hipster chic in Vegas. Hanging out at Park MGM’s Eataly should be great, but having something like a Broker Shaker pool club would be mind-blowing.
And now that Carbone’s rocking it at Aria and Milk Bar is headed to the Cosmopolitan, it would make total sense for Choi, the chef who best represents the multicultural flavors and the f*ck-Michelin swagger of LA, to open a Vegas spot. He’s already partnered with Sydell at LA’s Line hotel in Koreatown, where one of his restaurants is called Pot and has both soul-warming Korean hot pots and a neon green Pot sign that looks like a stoner-fantasy dispensary sign.
Sydell is becoming a global force. It’s opening both a NoMad and a Freehand, the latter complete with a Broken Shaker and a Jenn Louis Israeli restaurant, in downtown LA. It’s also developing a London property with Soho House, another Burkle investment that could potentially add an A-list wrinkle to Las Vegas.
But there’s nothing that Zobler—who previously worked for Balazs and whose Sydell projects also include the Ace New York (which has a lobby lounge that’s more Brooklyn than Brooklyn even though it’s in a hot Manhattan neighborhood)—has done and will likely ever do that’s bigger than the $450 million remake of the Monte Carlo. Sydell is creating a 292-room NoMad and the colossal, approximately 2,700-room Park MGM, properties where construction is expected to start later this year and be completed in late 2018.
The cool hunters have been given the keys to the casino, and I’m willing to bet the house that they’re going to change the game.