By  on March 14, 2007

Hotelier Jonathan Tisch likes to wear J. Crew.

The preppy-with-a-twist brand is one of just a handful of apparel labels regularly donned by Tisch, chairman and chief executive of Loews Hotels, and is a favorite because of its clean lines and understated look. Giorgio Armani, Prada, Hermès and "a lot of stuff from Scoop" also own a place in the closet of the admittedly hard to please, 53-year-old hotel executive, whose book, "Chocolates on the Pillow Aren't Enough: Reinventing the Customer Experience" (John Wiley & Sons, $26.95), was published Friday.

"Less is more," Tisch said, describing his taste for "looking classy with not a lot of frills."

Reflecting a similar sensibility, Loews' 16 hotel properties in the U.S. and two in Canada, led by the third generation of Tisch executives, bid for the 1.3 million customers they serve annually with the offer of surroundings that are upscale but not trendy.

"We keep our brand fresh by making sure our properties relate to their locations, through their architecture, interior design, [staff] uniforms and food," Tisch said. The hotels range from Miami Beach to San Diego to Montreal and back to New York, where the Loews Regency Hotel sits across the street from the headquarters of the $371 million group. "We're stylish, but very aware of who our customer is; generally, we aim at high-end business travelers. Andre Balazs' customer is not ours," Tisch offered, speaking of the hotelier whose portfolio of luxury destinations includes Chateau Marmont, the Standard Miami and the Mercer in New York.

While interior design and uniforms may seem fleeting or insignificant, they combine to shape a guest's first impression of a hotel — and can be the swing factor in a person's choice to stay in one place rather than another, Tisch has found. "There are [various] points of entry for a hotel guest and one of them is style," which is reflected in a property's marketing and Web presence, he said in an interview at the headquarters of the Loews Corp., parent of the hotel group, on Manhattan's Upper East Side. (Tisch and his cousin Andrew Tisch are co-chairmen of the $17.8 billion Loews Corp., with holdings that include CNA Financial, Lorillard and Bulova Corp.)

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