I am a longtime fan of the iconic Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, perched on a prestigious spot above the Sunset Strip. Almost 30 years of parties and events, dining with friends, and socializing all came to a crashing halt when owner Andre Balazs announced he would be converting the property into a members-only timeshare establishment.
To make matters worse, 64 employees were fighting for labor organization wanting to join the union. With mounting legal challenges and a community of fans angered at the developments, Balazs has dropped his private club plans and has also agreed to let his workers unionize and be represented by Unite Here Local 11 W.
“Both the Chateau Marmont and Unite Here Local 11 are pleased with the new relationship,” according to a recent statement from both sides. “We believe it solidifies the foundation of the Chateau’s historic success: the commitment to its guests and employees, both of which are famous for their loyalty and longevity.”
The news rolled through Hollywood in 2020 when Balazs announced he would convert the 93-year-old property into a members-only hotel, where highly vetted “owners” could purchase shares in exchange for exclusive access to the hotel. Owners would use the private dining room and personal butlers and could have extended residency. Balazs still plans to incorporate the members-only plan for other properties in London, New York, and Milan.
Many locals were furious when the Chateau Marmont fired most of its workers without severance and sought new hires at lower wages. Many celebrities and Hollywood studios boycotted the property, not wanting to cross the picket lines.
Apparently, after years of protracted legal fighting and the fact that pandemic travel has increased to almost record levels in Hollywood, Balazs decided enough was enough, and the hotel would be back open to the public. The real heroes of this story are the workers who will now benefit from better pay and benefits and job protection for the employees who have worked for many years.
The agreement with the union is the latest development in a long drama involving the 93-year-old hotel.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “the hotel was sued in 2021, accused of racial discrimination by a former employee who claimed management primarily promoted white people to the most coveted positions while workers of color were offered lower-paid, behind-the-scenes jobs.”
The hotel was designed by architects Arnold A. Weitzman and William Douglas Lee, inspired by the Château d’Amboise, in France’s Loire Valley, and opened in 1929 as a private apartment building. It was converted into a hotel attracting legendary celebrities in 1932, and after numerous owners, eventually acquired in 1990 by Andres Balazs.