Alex Calderwood
Ace Hotels founder Alex Calderwood speaking at Design Inn, his final public industry appearance. Photo: Tyrone Branigan

The hotel industry has lost one of its visionaries with Ace Hotels founder Alex Calderwood passing away on November 14 in London.

Calderwood, 47, was found dead in his room at the recently-opened Ace Hotel London, and the cause of his death remains unclear.

His last major public appearance was on October 9 at the HM magazine and ISIS-hosted Design Inn Symposium in Sydney, where he told the crowd of almost 300 about his passion for the industry and his desire to re-shape the boutique hotel market.

“I think it’s about finding the essence of what the property wants to be, and not trying to overdo it too much,” Calderwood said. “And I think that’s down to just personal editorial choices.”

Calderwood – alongside friends Wade Weigel, and Doug Herrick – transformed a Seattle halfway house into the first Ace Hotel in 1999 and since then expanded the group to include properties in Portland, Palm Springs, New York and most recently, London.

New projects in Asia, Latin America are also on the cards, along with a 183-room property opening in Los Angeles before the end of the year.

Calderwood was upbeat about the company’s future, which has been flying like the wind.

“Um, yeah, to be honest, there isn’t a big grand plan,” he said. “I think we’re looking to be opportunistic.”

There is no doubt his legacy will live on with Ace Hotels and the company that he’s helped grow will continue to redefine the affordable hip hotel space.

But he’s missed… and will be for some time.

“Alex was our teacher, mentor, guru and most importantly our dear friend,” Ace Hotels said on its blog. “We will miss him.”

A memorial service is being held for Calderwood in New York this week.

In the December issue, HM will feature a special tribute to Calderwood, including his final ever interview.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management