Dina De Luca Chartouni wears many hats. She is a hotelier, a TV and film producer and the name behind the exclusive bath and beauty products range DDC28 which is exclusively available at her hotel, The Lowell in New York City. A New Yorker at heart, Dina visits London very often and shared her story with us.
How did your story with The Lowell Hotel begin?
I was working in films and production when I met my husband, Fouad Chartouni whilst he was completing his PhD at Columbia University. He had already bought The Lowell Hotel and renovations were underway. He bought The Lowell Hotel at a time when New York really didn't have any small luxury hotels. Coming from a European background he really felt that New York needed a European style luxury boutique hotel. I was then working on an HBO series and had a meeting in the Pembroke Room. I felt that there were some major changes needed and that was the start of my involvement.
I wanted the hotel to have a uniform style. There is immense overlap in film production and dictating the style of a hotel. The hotel business for me was a completely different trade and I learned immensely from it along with managing my production work and bringing up three children!
I hired Michael Smith to do the interiors. Michael Smith was very well known on the West Coast at the time. He blends traditional and liveable very well taking comfort in to consideration!
How would you describe The Lowell?
It is elegant, timeless and does not have an expiry! The Lowell takes all your senses in to consideration. What you see, feel and smell is important. Our fireplaces in the rooms add elegance to the hotel and are a super luxury in this day and age. By being at the hotel you can easily re-call the feeling of being in the country and a resort at the same time.
I would say The Lowell's sister hotel in London is the Connaught. Very similar in style and history. We will soon be opening a new restaurant, bar and terrace. Our location on the Upper East Side gives us a very unique and luxurious base.
What inspired you to start your own brand?
We'd been using Bulgari amenities in our hotel for a long time and when we had started out with them they were quite an exclusive brand. However, as I travel a lot, I started noticing the brand in many hotels and felt it had lost its exclusivity. I wanted to create something that would be elegant yet simplistic and suited the traveler be it male or female. I wanted to get it right the way Apple has with its products! The right size,quantity and perfect to carry in your luggage. DDC28 was born out of my personal need of the right travel products. I will soon be launching more travel products which will be available to guests of the hotel such as an alpaca travel scarf which is reversible and perfect for the traveler.
How did your association with the Old Vic Theatre come about?
I am the Chair for The American Associates of The Old Vic Board of Trustees. The story started when I met Kevin Spacey at an LA event and he reached out to me regarding The Lowell not knowing of my connection with the hotel. His mentor Jack Lemmon was a long time guest of the hotel. My involvement in the association was written in the stars!
Sam Mendes directed the The Bridge Projects, a four year production of plays which I was associated with.
My involvement with the Old Vic has brought me a lot to London and has made the Old Vic a home away from home for me!
Your favourite places in London?
I love all the little gems of London! The Dean Street Townhouse, Yalla Yalla (a great little find in Soho) and The Mount Street Deli.There are some great hotels and restaurants in London such as the latest Colony Grill - seems almost lit for a theatrical act!
I do however feel that with luxury service has to follow. Service literally falls by the waistline of any new project be it big or small. With all the new openings there is definitely a lot of competition.
I feel a hotel needs a soul and character which is what keeps guests coming back!
For more information please visit The Lowell Hotel's Blog