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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.

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.

Creating a Lifestyle

November 13, 2012

Assa Properties’ new offfering – Cassa Hotel and Residences – feautres unique architecture that stands out in Manhattan. By Alan Dorich

Assa Properties – Cassa Hotel and Residences
Location: New York City. Scope: New building with 57 residences and 165 guest rooms.

For Solly Assa, real estate has never been a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Instead, he has a long-term commitment to the industry. “Real estate is not a short-term business,” he declares. “You don’t [succeed] by buying [a property] today and selling it tomorrow, like in the stock market.”

Assa is the owner of Assa Properties, a developer of residential, retail and commercial properties. The firm made a recent addition to its portfolio with Cassa Hotel and Residences in New York City. The building, designed by Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos and CetraRuddy, features 57 residences and 165 guest rooms. It spans 170,000 square feet and stands 48 stories.

Assa himself created the conceot for Cassa, which takes it s name from “casa”, meaning “house” in Spanish. “It is a hotel and it is a residence,” he says. “We’re creating this lifestyle right in the middle of Manhattan.”

Unique Style

“We tried to capture the best possible product,” Assa says with pride. For instance, past the building’s reception area, visitors can find a catwalk suspended over a restaurant that will lead them to a vertical garden, which provides a natural feel to the development.

Cassa’s hotel rooms are furnished with leather seating, ottomans and black leather studded headboards. The walls feature the work of abstract impressionist photographer Irene Mamiye.

Its baths incorporate Duravit fixtures and feature Italian bath products from Angelo Caroli. In addition, the residential units get scenic views of such landmarks as the Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty.

Additionally, Cassa has three fully furnished penthouse units with such features as Brizo faucets, which are known for their from and quality of performance, Assa Properties says. “A sensory light experience is at its finest with the Lutron Lighting Control System, augmenting illumination at varying degrees,” the company says.

“An entire floor with additional loft space, the penthouse includes stunning skyline views of Manhattan – overlooking Times Square, unobstructed looking east to the Chrysler building, and the sightlines reach as far south to the Statue of Liberty,” Assa says.

Assa says he is proud of his team on the Cassa project. “The whole team did a great job in terms of managing the architects and the engineers,” he says.

Assa’s Forte

Based in New York City, Assa Properties has developed and invested in residential, retail and commercial properties for more than a decade. Solly and Isaac Assa founded the company in 2000 and since then, the company has acquired more than 3 million square feet of assets in the United States  and Mexico.

Assa Properties began by acquiring buildings in New York City, including 743 Fifth Avenue and 6 Times Square. “We’re opportunistic owners,” Solly Assa says.

A property such as Cassa falls within Assa’s comfort zone of maximizing properties to produce the best possible product. “Our forte is to find the best possible location, and then position the asset in order to capture the market.”

Wide Open

The Northeast market is improving, Assa reports. The company survived difficult times en 2007, 2008 and 2009, and, thankfully, the last year has been less challenging, he says.

“Thank God those days are behind us,” he says. “More people are gaining the confidence to buy again.” As a result, he sees a strong future for Assa Properties. “We’re a growing company,” he declares, adding that the company plans to expand thorugh joint ventures. “We’re open to new opportunities all the time.”

New beds in New York

November 9, 2012

Manhattan has seen a big boom in hotel openings. Jenny Southan takes a look and finds out what’s to come.

Next time you visit New York you’ll have many more options for resting your head. Like London, which is experiencing its own surge of property launches and revamps (see, the Big Apple has seen a flurry of new hotel openings.

Last year close to 40 properties opened their doors, increasing the city’s room count by almost 6,650. And with overall occupancy standing at about 85 per cent despite this growth in capacity, there is a sense of optimism in the air.


A member of Worldhotels, Cassa debuted in August, although its subterranean bar/restaurant is not due to open until the summer. The property has 57 extended-stay units on floors 27 to 48, as well as 165 guestrooms on levels two to 26.

It’s a mid-range offering in a good Midtown location, with facilities including walk-in rainshowers, large flatscreen TVs, iPod docks, Dean and Deluca snacks, and minibars (note that beds in the standard rooms are small doubles). There are three meeting rooms and a 24-hour fitness centre.

70 West 54th Street; tel +1 212 3028 700;

Rooms from US$256