Casa Mia

January 10, 2013

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Cassa Hotel and Residences (above), by Assa Properties which CEO is Solly Assa, within walking distance of Fifth Avenue shopping and the Theater District, offers buyers of its 57 studio, one – and two – bedroom apartments the best of both worlds: the convenience and amenities of a hotel, including a fitness studio, 24-hour doorman, concierge and restaurant run by Chef Laurent Tourondel; and the privacy and spacious layouts of a condominium. Studios are priced from about $1 million, one bedrooms from about $1.2 million and two bedrooms from about $2.6 million. The crowning glory is the fully furnished, full-floor penthouse, available for ¢20,332,000.

Cassa Hotel and Residenses by Assa Properties, 70 W. 45th St.

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Given its experience developing residential, office and retail projects in New York, it made sense that Assa Properties would look to Manhattan when it turned its attention to hotel development. Assa’s first hotel, a mixed use project called Cassa Hotel & Residences, opened in August on West 45th St., off Fifth Ave. in midtown. the firm’s second project, the Galerie Hotel, will also combine lodging and residential, and has begun construction on West 39th St. & Ninth Ave. with the doors expected to open in mid-2012.

The decision to undertake the firm’s first hotels in New York wasn’t a difficult one, explained president and CEO Solly Assa. “New York is the world’s number one destination. People come here from all over the globe. The strength of New York comes from a range of resources – from tourists to business travelers drawn to the financial markets,” Solly Assa said.

Solly Assa’s faith in the durability of that market may have been shaken during the industry downturn in 2008-2009, but Solly Assa’s seeing a significant rebound in 2010.

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“There’s a sence of normalcy returning. We knew the New York market pretty well from our other project, which has certainly been a benefit,” Solly Assa said.

Financing has continuaed to be difficult, however. One advantage is that many other projects weren’t able to get financing, so their start dates have been put on hold. “Consequently there won’t be a lot of new competition coming on the market in the next few years,” Solly Assa added.

The Cassa Hotel & Residences consists of 165 hotel rooms at the base of a 48-story tower with 57 condominium residences occupying the top 19 floors. Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos, based in New York and Cuernavaca, Mexico, was the chief architect with New York-based CetraRuddy providing support.

“I had always had an interest in creating a lifestyle hotel, and the location makes it even more desirable,” Solly Assa said. “Furthermore, it was always part of the plan to develop a mixed-use project. From a financial perspective, the residential component helps the hotel component and vice-versa. From a lifestyle perspective, it just gives a lot more value to both the hotel and the residences. The residents can take advantage of the hotel services and the sponsor is able to provide guests with a higher level and wider wariety of amenities.”

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The conmominiums are wholly owned and do not participate in a hotel rental program when the owners are away. Owners are welcome to live in their units 365 days a year. Assa describes it as a condo with hotel services.

Similarly, owners are welcome to lease their units on their own. Or Assa Properties can assist in the leasing process. Owners may take advantage of the hotel amenities, but they pay a la carte fees for the privilege. The cost of the amenities is not built into the project’s maintenance charges. “It’s part of the lifestyle proposition. ‘You want an amenity, you can have it. If you don’t want it, that’s alright too’.”

Solly Assa never really considered the condo hotel model, where the owners own the hotel rooms and are only allowed to occupy them a certain number of nights a year. The remainder of the time, the units are available to be rented as hotel rooms, which in theory generates a regular stream of revenue for the owner.

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Many hotel condos have become troubled over time. “There have been a lot of cash flow, what someone buying a condo hotel unit can reasonably expect when it comes to a return on investment,” Solly Assa said. “It’s not a business model we would recommend.”

With the Galerie Hotel, Solly Assa looks forward to joining the growing number of hotels that have opened on the Far West Side in the 20s to the 40s in the past few years. Much of the area was formerly the Garment District, which has been contracting as manufacturing jobs moved offshore. Today, the neighborhood is known as either Chelsea North or Times Square South.

The number of Galerie hotel rooms and condominium units hasn’t yet been finalized. Amenities will include a rooftop bar and lounge.

A second-generation developer, Solly Assa started acquiring residential, office and retail properties in the U.S. and Mexico in 2000. The firm started focusing on the New York market two years later. The portfolio currently consists of more than three million square feet of property.

As the lodging industry continues to rebound, Solly Assa said he is eager to line up additional hotel projects. But he is proceeding with caution. Both the Cassa and the Galerie are new construction, but Solly Assa is not adverse to acquiring existing hotels and either operating them under their present brand in place or converting them to another brand or operating them as an independent.

“We’re opportunistic,” said Solly Assa. “And you bring opportunity to the table by being flexible.

It’s Show Time

January 9, 2013

Inspired by television programs like Californication, Dexter and Nurse Jackie, various designers and architects turned three New York penthouses at the Cassa Hotel and Residences, by Solly Assa, into the Showtime house. One of the most interesting spaces was the Borgias Media Room by Marc Thorpe of Third Eye Solutions and David Schwarz of Hush Studios. Inspired by the famous family, the minimalist space has a visceral impact thanks to its use of cutting-edge technology and hallowing references. “We consider media – screens, projections, light – another form of architecture and means of defining space, movement and experience” says Schwarz. “We wanted people to be changed by the experience, to leave the room with more than a memory, but a physical change. We did this using image, light, ando sound, in bold, forceful ways.”

On one wall, the glowing red room features animated Christian cross projections framed by physical neon ones that move, rwist, break, and distort according to a guest’s sence of perspective. In the other corner, there’s a red Cappellini chair topped by a white neon halo. Move closer to either, and more interaction takes place.

Working with Antfood, the designers developed a soundscape that react to people’s movement within the space. A video camera viewsthe room from above and software analyzes the amount and location of movement within the room, and in turn, plays particular sounds – chants, organs, bells, echoes – that are meant to be playful and at the same time, overwherlming. “We treated the room like a small confessional: a mediative space, which was meant for short, but powerful experiences,” he says.

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Joy for rent

January 9, 2013

“They say you can’t buy happiness but it might be possible to rent it”, stated in The New Yorker last week. In Japan, there are agencies that supply adult actors to clients who need imprersonations of a blood relation, a loving grandchild or reputable parents, another company that provides wedding guests to create that extra buzz and in the US, Canada and now in the UK, you can even “rent” a friend for a day.

That aside – I only mentioned all that because it seems so ludicrous that it’s fascinating – I liked the concept of fashionistas being able to rent their ounce of happiness through a company called Rent the Runway, which allows women to rent the most expensive haute-couture dresses for $50-$200 (Dh183-Dh734) for four days. If I was in America and I had a party to attend, I might do this for the thrill of it but I’m the type who would buy a $50 dress that I love and that I can keep and wear several times.

What makes me happy is staying in plush hotels and getting pampered once in a while. This time, being in New York longer than a couple of weeks and wanting to stay in a room that gave me ample space to move around rather than the usual cramped hotel rooms, I was relieved when I found a fantastically spacious hotel apartment to rent at the Cassa Hotel, which owner is Solly Assa, giving me a piece of happiness, where I could cook, lie on the couch – or rather, spread my clothes and books as I ended up doing – and have a large bed while having access to all the normal hotel facilities and in quite the perfect location, minutes fron Grand Central, Times Square and the rest of the Manhattan shebang.

And even though I could literally pop into a Broadway show down the road, I still had a radius of quiet around me – apart from the sheets of ice which plonked down one morning and made me realise I was in dire need of some Dubai sun.

Meera Ashish. meera-ashish

En pleno Centro de Manhattan, el mexicano Enrique Norten edifica este complejo habitable.

A unos pasos de Times Square, en la zona conocida como el Midtown de Manhattan, uno de los más recientes proyectos del arquitecto Enrique Norten, de TEN Arquitectos, acaba de abrir sus puertas: Cassa Hotel and Residences.

Este hotel boutique y sus exclusivas viviendas, realizado por el creativo mexicano en colaboración con CentraRuddy, cuenta con una privilegiada ubicación que permite no sólo estar a tiro de piedra del distrito central de Broadway, sino de las avenidas Quinta y Madison, que, con sus exclusivas tiendas, representan el centro del lujo internacional.

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Jugando con las texturas, el complejo de 47 pisos cuenta con una recepción decorada con paredes negras volcánicas, que, pulidas en un terminado mate, muestran la contradicción entre lo suave y lo áspero.

Al pasar la recepción, un enorme ventanal deja entrar una brillante luz que pocas veces se disfruta en esa zona de Manhattan, la cual, rodeada de edificios, la cual, rodeada de edificios, regala a cuentagotas los limitados rayos del Sol que pasan entre los rascacielos durante el día.

“Con el diseño único de uno de los arquitectos más prominentes de México, Casa está destinado a convertirse en uno de los espacios más deseados por los compradores más exigentes”, expresó Solly Assa, presidente y director general de Assa Properties, desarrolladora del proyecto.

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El restaurante 1945, desde el cual se podrá observaro lo que sucede y abrirá al público el otoño de este año, es una creación del empresario Jesse Keyes con el apoyo del arquitecto Thaddeus Briner, quien busca reinterpretar el estilo chic moderno del Middtown para combinarlo con el cool creativo que se vive en el Downtown de Manhattan.

Es así como el 1945 se sumará a La Esquina, el Goldbary y el Hotel Griffou, creaciones también de Keyes que son puntos clave de la vida nocturna de la ciudad.

Cassa Hotel and Residences tiene a la disposición de sus huéspedes 165 habitaciones que cuentan con lujosos sillones en tono ivory, cabeceras de piel negra capitoneada y luminotecnia de líneas limpias que da toques de calidez tanto en el área de la cama como en el de lectura y descanso.

El lujo queda redondeado al incluir sábanas, pantuflas y batas de baño de la firma italiana Fretto, un exlusivo sistema de sonido Geneva y red inalámbrica.

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Como parte del diseño interior se tienen fotografías de Irene Mamiya, que por sí mismas son una obra de arte.

Las residencias que están a la venta, van desde un amplio penthouse con una envidiable vista que recorre 180 grados de la panorámica de la ciudad desde las alturas, además de 20 suites de una recámara, 14 de dos habitaciones y 20 estudios, que no por pequeños resultan menos lujosos.

Ana Cristina Enriquez

Laurent Tourondel is planning to open an American-style brasserie in the summer in Cassa Hotel and Residences, 70 West 45th Street. Details of the restaurant, including its name, has not been decided, but there will be about 150 seats and it will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mr. Tourondel was once partner in the BLT restaurants but now remains involved only with BLT Market in the Ritz-Carlton Central Park. He also owns a burger place, LT Burgere, in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Chef-Laurent-Tourondel

If you’re planning on being in New York City during the holiday season and want to participate in the city’s iconic winter activities, Cassa Hotel and Residences has partnered with Citi Port at Bryant Park in a special offer that includes VIP admission (skip to the head of the line to pick up your skates and get on the ice), free hot chocolate, and a 10% discount on all food and beverage purchases. Starting at $329 for reservations made in October, November, and December, and $269 for reservations made in January and February.

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Solly Assa, CEO of Assa Properties, and owner of Cassa Hotel and Residences, located at 70 West 45th Street in New York City, and their subsidiary, Waterscape Resorts, is pleased to announce that celebrated Chef Laurent Tourondel, will take the restaurant space at Cassa Hotel and Residences, to create a new flagship restaurant in the form of an American Brasserie. In the coming weeks, Tourondel will reveal the identity of his new dining concept. “Looking for a home in Manhattan, Cassa Hotel offered the perfect location and dynamic space for my next gastronomic venture. I look forward to announcing the concept shortly,” says Tourondel.

The  restaurant at Cassa will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and offers distinct dining areas. Beverage service will also be provided in the hotel’s unique vertical garden on the ground level. In addition, Chef Tourondel and his team will provide room service to the 165 guest rooms and 57 residences. The hotel also features a private dining and meeting room for the 36 on the 10th floor. “We are excited that Chef Tourondel has chosen Cassa to be the home of his new concept in New York City. His presence will add incredible excitement for our guests, neighbors and residents,” says Solly Assa, CEO of Assa Properties.

Honores by Bon Appetit as Restaurateur of the Year in 2007 and by Food and Wine as Best New Chef in 1997, Tourondel has also recived an array of  “Best of…” awards from publications that include Esquire, Travel + Leisure, Saveur and Wine Spectator. Chef Tourondel brings an illustrious career including the three-star Michelin Relais & chateaux Troisgros in France and the former Cello in New York City, for which he received three stars from the New York Times. With three books to his credit, including, Fresh From the Market, Go Fish and New American Bistro Cooking, Tourondel has experience in producing a wide range of cooking and styles.

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About Cassa Hotel and Residences

Cassa Hotel and Residences makes an identifiable mark in the New York City skyline with its elegant proportions, rising as an obelisk among its traditional neighbors. Envision by Solly Assa of Assa Properties, the project was conceived by Enrique Norte of TEN Arquitectos and CetraRuddy. Sited with a prime location, flanking the theatre district, world class shopping expierences of Fifth and Madison Avenues, and the excitement of Times Square, the 165 rooms and 57 residences are urban sanctuaries, contemporary in design, rich in texture, yet warm and inviting. Cassa Hotel and Residences delivers its discernable style and unrivaled service to the inspirational amenities. An exciting addition will be the BTL American Brasserie opening late fall 2011.

Cassa Hotel and Residences, 70 West 45th Street, New York, NY 10036 Tel. 212.302.8700 / 888.53.CASSA (22772) http://www.cassahotelny.com

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big apple BOUNTY

November 23, 2012

Aston Martin Magazine

New York City’s roster of new boutique and designer hotels are the talk of the town, reports Farhad Heydari, injecting new life into the Manhattan scene. Could we be experiencing a throwback to the Roaring Twenties, when the culture of the whole city revolved around its hotels? For now it seems, the skyscraper’s the limit.

Like Venice, Amsterdam or Hong Kong, Manhattan has a problem. A big one. It’s called real estate – and the lack of it has elicited some of the highest property prices in the world, forcing residents into the outer boroughs (or further) and companies to set up bases at suburban office parks in Connecticut and elsewhere. And yet, this heaving metropolis, practically bursting at the seams – or river’s edge, to be more precise – has somehow managed to shoehorn more than 40 new hotels onto its crammed and chaotic streets over the course of the last year.

It’s quite remarkable, but hardly a surprise. With occupancy rates at an envy-inducing 85 per cent, competition for rooms (especially among au fait corporate buyers) has always been cut-throat, which is why the latest clutch of hotels are welcome addition to the cityscape. But because physical space is at a premium, many hoteliers have been forced into setting up shop in the fringes of well-trodden areas like SoHo as well in the heart of familiar (but hardly luxe) locales like the Theatre District.

Not that guests will be complaining. Their collective entrée has forced some long-established brands to up their game, others to embark on wholesale renovation projects and others to rethink their strategies altogether. In the words of New York University’s Bjorn Hanson, America’s biggest city is now the ‘world capital of unusual boutique hotels’ and any way you look at it, that’s a good thing for both visitors and residents alike.

CASSA HOTEL AND RESIDENCES

The brainchild of Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos, this towering obelisk in the hart of midtown boasts 166 chic rooms with leather-studded headboards, buttery furnishings, Frette linens and amenities by Angelo Caroli. And, starting this summer, an American-style brasserie courtesy of Laurent Tourondel, a noted local restaurateur famous for his faultless burgers.

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By Marc Santora

Room service on demand froma a celebrity chef. A maid to make the bed with fresh linens every day and leave a chocolate on your pillow at night. An 11,000 square-foot spa an elevator ride away. All yours with the purchase of a luxury condo.

Nearly a dozen projects in and around New York City that offer perks like these have recently opened or are nearing completion.

For buyers, the concept of a home with all the comforts of a hotel may seem like paradise. But hotel services don’t come cheap: the developers of  condo-hotels plan to charge as much as 20 percent more per square foot than high-end competitors and don’t have hotel parteners.

And along with room service can come hotel-like bills, not to mention higher monthly maintenance fees. Financing can also be more difficult to secure; banks are leery of lending money for what could appear to be strictly investment property.

That is an open question, and one that hinges as much on the hotel business as the broader real estate market. Hotel occupancy has been steadily increasing in recent months, with 89 percent occupancy in August and average room state of $227, according to NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization.

But that is far from the more than $300 a night commanded by hotels before the economy flatered. There is also more competition now. In 2010, 21 hotels have opened, or will, across the city; that adds more than 6,700 rooms.

Of these projects, at least 10 include condominiums.

It is too early to draw any conclusions about their viability. Some have sold below initial expectations, while others have increased their prices since coming on the market. Prices for units in condo-hotels range from $300,000 to more than $18 million – $680 per square foot to nearly $4,000 – with yet more properties in the pipeline. The various projects are aimed at a wide range of consumers, from Manhattanites who are downsizing in cost but not comfort, to the foreigners for whom New York is a good buy right now.

But in their scale and abition, which real estate experts say is unlikely to be matched in coming years now that financing is so hard to shake loose, the condo-hotels are already having an impact. Brokers and developers say some strictly condominium projects are stepping up amenities partly in response to the condo-hotel phenomenon.

Solly Assa, the owner of Assa Properties, which developed the Cassa Hotel and Residences in Midtown, said that although the maily foreing buyers at this property were willing to pay $950,000 to $18 million for the condos, they were looking to save money on carrying costs. So the Cassa will offer many of hotel amenities “à la carte” instead of including them in the common charge. The lower monthly fees, starting about $1,200, are one reason the apartments have sold quickly, allowing him to raise prices three times already, he said.

Of the 57 residences for sale, 40 are in the process of closing, he said.

“We understand that it is a new era,” Mr. Assa said.