When the 297-room SLS at Beverly Hills opens this November, it will be one of L.A.'s most ambitious building adaptations, transforming a 1980s-era business class lodging into a five-star hotel by & #252;ber designer Philippe Starck, who transformed the industry 20 years ago with the first boutique hotel. Developer Sam Nazarian is spending $130 million and sparing no expense. Acclaimed Spanish chef Jos & #233; Andr & #233;s is handling the food from room service to restaurants. And cutting-edge New York City retailer Moss is opening a Los Angeles outlet there. The hotel will be operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts with an average room rate of about $450.


Sam Nazarian, chief executive of privately held hospitality company SBE, knows that he's viewed as a "nightclub guy." But the way he sees it, he was in the hotel business long before creating the nightspots that made his name.

"I was a hotel guy first," said Nazarian, who talks of having planned for an SLS hotel starting five years ago.

The Los Angeles company purchased the La Cienega Boulevard property, which formerly housed Le Meridien at Beverly Hills, for $90 million in a 2005 bankruptcy sale. In addition, SBE is spending $130 million on the renovation of the seven-story building. The project is slated to open in November.

Nazarian said he's most excited about the hotel's 15,000-square-foot ground floor retail and eateries space, called the Bazaar. It includes several restaurants by Spanish chef Jos & #233; Andr & #233;s and a high-end, "experiential" retail store by New York City-based Moss, which has been described as a museum masquerading as a store.

"I don't think it's a risk because I am doing it, but nothing like the Bazaar has ever been built before," boasts Nazarian.

The longtime Angeleno said the city has changed in the last five years, with luxury nightclubs and restaurants that have made it more desirable for the young and moneyed set. And he takes some of the credit.

"What I saw was an opportunity for luxury to come to Los Angeles," he said. "We exactly fit in the white space that lives between people that have outgrown W (hotels) and aren't ready for the Montage," he said. "That's the thesis for SLS. That's why SLS has a right to exist in our world today."

The developer has opened a slew of successful nightspots in the last five years, including Hyde Lounge and Area, both popular with the Hollywood crowd. There are also SBE's eateries and lounges, like Katsuya and Foxtail. Nazarian plans to connect SLS to other SBE properties, with a bit of high technology.

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