Hersha Hospitality opens new boutique property Hyatt 48 Lex

NEW YORK—Lodging REIT Hersha Hospitality Trust apparently enjoys being bi-coastal. 

After making several acquisitions here in Manhattan earlier this year, the REIT went out to the West Coast to seal the deal on its first property there—the Courtyard by Marriott Westside in Culver City—and is now back in The Big Apple, opening Hyatt 48 Lex.

The new-build, boutique property is a mix of 116 studios and suites, including corner suites overlooking the street scene and giving guests dramatic views via floor-to-ceiling windows. 

According to general Manager Mark Wager, the hotel was inspired by the best New York City has to offer and “brought it to life in the design, style and service” at the new hotel. “We are very proud to welcome guests to see the hotel this fall, and are excited to be part of this vibrant neighborhood,” he said.

The hotel was designed by architect Nobutaka Ashihara with interior design by Paul Vega and Vennie Lau of VLDG. 

A signature element of the hotel’s studios and suites is floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for dramatic views of midtown Manhattan. The accommodations feature a gray palette and include original artwork, woven carpets, custom duvets, 37-inch, flat-panel televisions, tables made by a Brooklyn woodworker, iPod docks and the proprietary Hyatt Grand Bed.

Pieces by New York-based photographer Kelly Neal and vintage sheet music and magazines layered with acrylic on canvas by New York City artist Susan Reedy add a special touch to the studios and suites at Hyatt 48 Lex.

A butler’s pantry (aka kitchenette), which features items that go beyond the typical mini-bar fare, adds to the luxury feel of the new urban hotel. Additionally, many of the offerings are locally sourced, such as Jacques Torres chocolate-covered marshmallows, Brooklyn Beer, Zico Water, Dean and Deluca hickory-smoked almonds and North Fork potato chips. Featured wines include Marcarini Barolo Brunate and Terrabianca Campaccio, which also are served in the hotel’s Lexicon Lounge. 

Two Penthouse Suites, each with terraces, also are part of the guestroom mix.

The Lexicon Lounge on the second floor is considered the heart of the hotel, a place to relax and kick back with complimentary beverages and snacks, including daily selections from the hotel’s pastry chef. 

Other food-and-beverage offerings are available from the on-site eatery, Lexington Brass. Breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are available to enjoy in Lexicon Lounge, and hosted wine-and-cheese tastings for guests are available each evening. In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere, a collection of coffee-table books is available for guests to peruse, or guests may simply enjoy looking out over the hotel’s “green” roofs and six landscaped terraces that feature boxwood bushes and Japanese maples. For a tech connect, there are iPads available for guests to borrow. The Lounge is open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, and two staff members and a concierge are available for conversation and local advice. 

Hersha and Hyatt also are positioning the Lexicon Lounge to be the scene of events, including fashion previews and book signings. 

Food and beverage is a key aspect of Hyatt Hotels, and 48 Lex has brought on EMM Group to open Lexington Brass on the ground floor of the hotel. The 100-seat, three-meal restaurant features locally sourced, American bistro fare. 

For example, at breakfast guests may choose jam-filled pancakes with berries and lemon cream or go a bit more inventive and try a Spanish scramble with chorizo, rock shrimp and hash. At lunch, sirloin steak sandwiches with truffle fries, or grilled shrimp and couscous or yellowfin tuna on ciabatta with avocado and tomato jam are among the offerings. Dinner items range from simple—buttermilk fried chicken and biscuits—to sophisticated—sweet corn ravioli with chanterelles or spicy fluke ceviche with watermelon. 

The Lexington Brass beverage program also is eclectic, and includes Kombucha tea, three local wines and four local beers on tap, including one signature lager that was crafted and brewed in EMM Group’s name.

And for those guests who might indulge just a bit too much or who just need to unwind, Hyatt 48 Lex provides a Suite Spa Program, where, in the privacy of their studio or suite, they may have massages, manicures and facials. A 24/7 fitness studio also is available.

Hersha and Hyatt are known for meeting the needs of business travelers, and with its central location in midtown Manhattan, Hyatt 48 Lex is expected to see its fair share of business meetings. Toward this, located near Lexicon Lounge on the second floor, the hotel has four private executive boardrooms for meetings of eight to 12 persons. All meeting rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and access to Lexicon Lounge and the Alcove, a space for taking a break or taking phone calls, all on the same floor. Each meeting room is styled with Herman Miller chairs and equipped with audio- and video-conferencing technology; high-definition, flat-panel televisions; connectivity panels in the boardroom tables; integrated audio/video controls; and a wireless Crestron system that controls all multimedia, including lights and drapes. In addition, via the Crestron touch panels, guests can control all audio and video, lighting and shades, etc. from around the room. Also, there are iPod connections and individual climate controls throughout, and one room is equipped for video conferencing. Lexington Brass can provide food and beverage service. 

In discussing the company’s expansion plans earlier this year, President/COO Neil Shah told HOTEL BUSINESS® it will continue to focus on urban, select-service properties with some consideration of independents and upper-upscale assets. “We’re very market oriented,” said Shah, adding: “We try to focus on high-margin hotels and hotels that drive most of their profitability from rooms.”

Nightly rates at Hyatt 48 Lex start from $499.

HHT currently owns interests in 78 hotels, totaling 10,621 rooms, primarily upscale, mid-scale and extended-stay properties in major metropolitan markets. The REIT also recently purchased the 112-room Holiday Inn Express Wall Street and the 81-room Hampton Inn Financial District in downtown Manhattan, as well as the 152-room Capitol Hill Suites in Washington, DC.

“We were one of the few players that were active during some of the most difficult times in lodging, like in ’09 and 2010. In 2011, we continue to be active. We’re not trying to build a huge portfolio, but when we see an opportunity in one of our strategic markets and a handful of these other markets we’re starting to look at, we will try to make a deal,” said the COO. “It’s steady…we are in the good position of having access to equity capital and are not reliant on debt financing.”