Without doubt, Aspen is the perfect spot for Restoration Hardware’s first “ecosystem.” Over the past few years, the company that has become “the place” to buy furniture. With a philosophy that differs from other similar stores such as Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn, their comparatively upscale and streamlined pieces have helped RH distinguish itself.
Towards the end of last year, the company announced plans to feature an “ecosystem” of sorts in Aspen. The $105 million equity investment into Aspen will feature retail locations, hospitality concepts, restaurants, residential developments, and workforce housing projects.
Restoration Hardware’s chairman and CEO, Gary Friedman has many goals for the company… the most ambitious one comes from the hospitality arm. Friedman hopes that the company will be able to soak up a bit of the country’s housing market with RH-branded residences. This new development will include the company’s first entry into the housing market with several fully furnished RH Residences. Five four-bedroom homes and one six-bedroom home will be the first completed residences.
The company isn’t completely new to the hospitality industry as they have restaurants, wine bars, and cafes in metropolitan cities across the country. Special locations such as Chicago, New York, Yountville, California, and West Palm Beach, Florida were among the first to open dining and drinking establishments. Next on the docket is a Guesthouse in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Originally scheduled to open in 2019, this 14-room, 25,000-square-foot space will open this year.
For quite some time now, RH’s long-term vision has been to expand beyond Galleries. At RH, everything starts at the Galleries which are the brand’s places to inspire customers. Dining and other hospitality experiences follow; the intention of these is to bring more customers into the spaces and to get them familiar with the offerings. The RH Guesthouses, such as the one scheduled to open in NYC, will come next. These are described as (courtesy of an article by Pamela N. Danzinger for Forbes), “a new market for travelers seeking privacy and luxury in the $200 billion hotel industry. More than just resorts, there are also plans for RH3 yachts available to charter in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. The vision culminates with the RH Residences…turnkey condominiums and homes that are fully furnished.”
The trend of retailers expanding beyond commerce is not new. Over a decade ago, ABC Carpet & Home opened “ABC Kitchen” in a collaboration with renowned chef Jean-George Vongerichten. Two years ago, Crate & Barrel launched “The Table,” a full-service restaurant, at some of its stores. Also hopping onto this train are retail branches such as West Elm and Shinola who have opened hotels in recent years.
Why Aspen? The chairman and CEO explained it best (courtesy of Retail Dive, in an interview with Caroline Jansen), “We believe Aspen represents a singular opportunity to elevate the RH brand by exposing the world of RH to the world’s most affluent and discerning customers in a single, walkable market. Additionally, we believe the education RH will gain from a real estate development and ownership perspective will be immeasurable as the brand builds its global ecosystem of products, places, services, and spaces.”
Friedman continues, “We have long admired the community of Aspen, and are sensitive about designing experiences that respect and retain the town’s unique historical character and charm.” We can’t wait to see how this all plays out!