What do Leonardo da Vinci, Egyptian archeology, celebrity after-parties, and see-through bathrooms have in common? They’re all things that make up a man known as Joey Jalleo. Joey is the VP of Culture and Communication for Standard International, making him the man behind the style of some of the hottest hotels and properties in New York, Miami, L.A., and Hollywood.
Imagine this: It’s 2009. You’re a prop stylist and a high-end event publicist bouncing between freelance gigs. You get a call from a luxury real estate mogul asking you to join his team, and then you open what would soon become The Standard Hotel, High Line in New York City. This is Joey’s story, one in which no day isn’t interesting in some way.
An LA native, 20-year NYC veteran, and son of Lebanese immigrants, Joey stumbled into the hospitality industry seemingly by accident. No one would ever know, though, judging by the merits of his success. As a kid Joey wanted to become an archeologist, then he became involved with the fashion industry as he began his professional career. But less than a year after launching one of New York’s most iconic nightlife hotspots, The Top of The Standard (also known as the Boom Boom Room), the club became the site of the Met Gala’s celebrity after-party. Six years later, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. This year’s Met Gala after-party boasted an exclusive list of A-list Hollywood actors, designers, and musicians including Jared Leto, Donatella Versace, and Katy Perry.
Joey says that trends in fashion, travel, and technology are what inspires him the most. “We’re on the brink of living in The Jetsons,” he said during the interview. Those childhood fantasies, along with a revolutionary sense of dreaming about the future, are what makes The Standard Hotels an epicenter of high culture.
We sat down with Joey (seen here wearing a black Triple F.A.T. Goose Chenega) to get the secrets of managing such a successful enterprise and learned a lot along the way.
1. What’s a typical day in the office like for you?
Working in hospitality, especially hotels, is a 24-hour job, and there are no typical days. I usually wake up at 6 am and go through my emails, which include overnight reports from all the hotels, VIP requests, and new development updates. By 10 am, I’m at my desk to plan the day in more detail. We have recurring meetings throughout the week with various task force teams who keep the momentum going on current projects, new hotel developments, our cultural programming and the like. I tend to leave the office around 7 or 8 pm, hopefully, to get to the gym or to dinner with friends, or maybe even get to an event or two. It’s always a long day.
2. What’s the secret to making the Boom Boom Room a hotspot year after year?
I’ve been very lucky to have been able to work with one of, if not THE most gorgeous rooms in Manhattan. It’s a global icon and a must-see for anyone who visits Manhattan. I don’t know if there is a “secret” per se, but we have a phenomenal team that works very hard on keeping that room relevant in terms of programming, performances and special events which keep the allure and fantasy alive. After seven and a half very strong years (which is almost unheard of in New York nightlife), the testament of the room’s longevity is not only due to the room itself but to the team that tirelessly breathes life into it day and night.
3. One of the most unique things about The Standard Hotel, High Line is the see-through bathrooms. It has been met with controversy from onlookers and praised by hotel guests. It’s quite interesting, to say the least…What was the purpose and inspiration behind this?
I cannot speak to the exact inspiration which our incredible design and architecture teams took into consideration when designing the building, but I can say that the hotel was built on the exact point where Manhattan curves eastward and to the south. It is this curvature of the island that allows the spectacular south facing views of the river, the Statue of Liberty, and beyond. To be able to have not just bathrooms, but hotel rooms as well, welcome the surrounding city and its breathtaking views via floor to ceiling glass windows is a wonder of the building’s design. There is nothing more breathtaking than to be able to lay in your bed or to be in your shower and to feel like you’re on top of the world, looking out over the most visually stunning city in the world. It’s those moments that take my breath away every time, even to this day...
4. The Standard Hotels have always been closely linked with fashion. How did this relationship begin and where do you see it going?
The Standard has always been at the crossroads of innovation, design, culture, and business. The fashion industry has played a very important part of that due to the very like-minded nature of our worlds. I think the symbiosis between what is new and interesting in hospitality and not just fashion, but also business, entertainment, and art, is a very important aspect to the hotels. Melding our worlds together offering everyone a place to convene and to revel in each other is key to the success of the properties.
5. How has technology affected your world?
Technology both frightens and excites me. Part of me feels that technology is dumbing us down as a society; making it too easy for us to not be present or to be mindless. It's like having someone else control your mind and do the work for you. But on the other hand, the advancements we are seeing unfold before our eyes are what my childhood fantasies were made of. We’re on the brink of living in The Jetsons, and that’s both scary and titillating.
6. Are there any major upcoming events that you are currently working on?
There are a lot of upcoming projects that I’m working on, but I can’t talk about them right now. I’m pretty sure you’ll hear about them in due course. They are unlike anything you’ve seen The Standard do before...naturally.
7. What is the most memorable event that you have ever been a part of?
I’ve been very blessed to have worked on some of the most incredible events this city has seen, but for me personally, the one which I am most proud of is the opening of the Boom Boom Room on September 12, 2009. André [Balazs] came to me five days before and said, “Let’s throw a party!” We took a seaplane the next morning to his house on Shelter Island, created an invite, I built a guest list, and on the sixth day, one of the greatest moments in Boom Boom, not to mention New York nightlife history, took place. It is one of the events that I am most proud of.
8. New York, Miami, Los Angeles. How are each of the Standard Hotel locations distinct? Do you have a favorite?
Every hotel has its own unique identity. We’re not cookie cutter like other boutique hotels. They mirror the communities and neighborhoods in which they reside while maintaining the brand ethos you are familiar with. Hollywood is a bit of rock ‘n’ roll on Sunset Boulevard, while Downtown LA lends itself to its surrounding business center. The Spa in Miami is the tranquil antidote to it all, while our crown jewel, The Standard High Line, is an adult playground. As for East Village, it’s the younger, more intellectual little sister to the High Line, finding its roots in the history of the neighborhood. While I don’t like to play favorites, you can probably find me most often laying by the pool in Miami. Shhh. I never told you that.
9. This past January marked the Standard Spa’s 10 year anniversary, where is Joey Jalleo 10 years from now? What is he doing?
HA! Is this a trick question?? I’d like to be living and working permanently in Europe. Maybe London or Paris? But if Trump is elected, that might just have to happen next year.
10. On your Instagram profile, you wrote: “leap and a net will appear”. What does this mean to you?
It means there are no guarantees. You cannot ensure the outcome of your decisions. Whether you succeed or fail, that is your net. You have to have faith, trust yourself and take that leap, for better or for worse. You can’t have an insurance policy on everything you do, but you can listen to that inner voice and know it is leading you down the path on which you’re supposed to be.