André Balazs’ plan to take Chateau Marmont private scorned by locals
A plan to convert the historic Chateau Marmont — a haunt for movie stars, rock legends, moguls and models — into a private club is being met with opposition from the Hollywood community and campaigners who are branding it “a cynical ruse” and a “bogus club.”
Hotelier André Balazs said he hopes to convert the hotel on Sunset Boulevard to a members-only club by the end of the year. The splashy Wall Street Journal announcement came after Balazs laid off nearly all the hotel employees without insurance or benefits during the pandemic. The former employees have staged protests outside the hotel.
An insider told Page Six, “André wanted to sell the Chateau, but couldn’t find a buyer in the pandemic. His new plan to turn it into a members-only club is facing a lot of opposition from the Hollywood community, the former staff and the city, which may block it because it would be effectively banning the public from a building that is part of the folklore of Hollywood.”
There is particular outrage from former Chateau staff. The hotel claimed it would rehire workers “based on need” — but Balazs told the WSJ he would not rehire them because he “wanted a different skill set” for his private clubs.
Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, which is helping some of the laid-off staff, told Page Six, “The Chateau Marmont’s announcement that it will now call itself a private club does nothing to avoid its obligation to recall its longtime workers. It is a cynical ruse. We hope that no one joins this bogus club until the professional service workers who made the hotel rich and famous — most of whom are workers of color — are back in their jobs and are treated with respect.”
A spokesman for Balazs and the Chateau said, “Andre is committed to hiring back staff based on seniority and has stated that publicly several times before. As business has allowed them to do so they have hired back whenever possible, including six individuals so far with a combined 115 years of experience working at the Chateau. All of the individuals rehired, represent the most senior members of their respective departments.
“Based on this alone, it is evident that the Chateau is committed to recalling staff based on seniority. Occupancy is currently at 30% due to ongoing effects of the pandemic, which requires the property to operate with a skeletal staff. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Chateau is fortunate enough to have brought back six of its most senior staff members, but continued rehiring will be dependent on guest demand and reopening phases as directed by local and state authorities.”
Meanwhile, nearby Hollywood private club San Vicente Bungalows, owned by a Balazs competitor, Sunset Tower hotelier Jeff Klein, has thrived since opening last year.