Courtesy of BFA.com

Hotel Guru

Ben Pundole

Written by Saul Taylor

The EDITION hotel group has become the byword for a new type of hospitality where understated sophistication meets the needs of a new global elite that permeates all spheres of culture. Ben Pundole has the sector sewn up as the group’s head of brand development and founder of ahotellife.com

Describe The Times Square EDITION in your own words.

The Times Square EDITION boasts a new kind of luxury in a place that’s never had it. Taking its cue from Broadway and how the area has evolved, the hotel has varied F&B options from a casual restaurant The Terrace and more sophisticated offering from John Fraser called 701West along with cocktail bars and a nightclub space called Paradise Club.

What makes The EDITION so special in a crowded hospitality market like New York?

Each EDITION hotel has a sense of place, they’re all very similar in attitude non are cookie cutter. Each of our properties has a different designer, F&B and nightlife concepts, they all have a sense of place and purpose. It’s also exciting to have resources from Marriott mixed with the excitement and experience of Ian Schrager himself. It’s a recipe for success!

What initiatives are you running to keep it cool?

We have one of New York’s most celebrated young chef talents John Fraser overseeing all of our F&B venues; his menus are veggie forward, full of variety, innovative and simply delicious. We have also partnered with House of Yes, an amazing arts and nightclub space in Bushwick, who have curated The Devouring – a three night a week live show experience we do in Paradise Club. Guests can come for dinner and the show and then stay and dance late into the night.

What kind of visitors do you get and who is the ultimate guest?

Our guests come from all over the world, lots of them who have grown up with boutique hotels and now want a more sophisticated offering. Our guests want and expect exceptional service, beautiful design and exciting programming all of which EDITION offers.

What was your brief for the opening event?

To honor the tradition and history of Times Square and fuse all forms of entertainment from theater to music, including bands, DJ’s and solo performers. We wanted to remind New Yorker’s and the world that Times Square isn’t just the crossroads of New York but also the world!

What did you do in terms of catering and drinks?

John Fraser served a curated family style menu of mushroom carpaccio, Maine lobster, carrot bolognaise, Tunisian spiced cauliflower and our – now famous – chocolate souffle at The Terrace and outdoor gardens where we did a VIP dinner with over 300 guests. Of course, we offered champagne and an array of cocktails which our bar team created specially. Later in the evening we had a late night party with a candy bar up in our signature restaurant 701West which went to the early hours of the morning.

What did you do in terms of entertainment?

Ian wanted a festival of events, a week long party that people would talk about for years to come. We had Diana Ross and Niles Rodgers perform at our opening party – the atmosphere was electric! Later that night British model and singer Suki Waterhouse performed an acoustic set, Cara Delevingne shot the whole thing and it felt like a really exclusive moment. On the next night Lauryn Hill performed, a true legend who got the crowd dancing and in an uproar. Later in the week Sofi Tukker played and finally we had an all night dance party with Charli XCX. DJ wise we had Seth Troxler, one of the best techno and house talents of our generation and NY icons such as Q-Tip and Questlove. Our entertainment was very varied, something for everyone!

How do you organize your guest lists?

We’re inclusive. Our openings are for all walks of life and industries. Diversity makes a good party! Whether you work in film, fashion, music, art, theater or philanthropy or if you’re gay, straight, poor or wealthy we always ensure the room is a mix of interesting people including Ian’s friends of course dating back to Studio 54.

How did the event go in the end?

It was like hanging on to a lightning bolt; there was a huge crowd outside trying to come in like a wave. The atmosphere was electric; I’ve worked in creating special events and moments for around 21 years in NYC and it was the most exciting week of events I’ve ever been part of.

What makes a great event?

Great food, cocktails, champagne, service, performance, DJs, quality of sound and diversity – gay, black, straight, young, old.

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