Just across from the Prado, the Mandarin Oriental Ritz opened its doors last year after a three-year transformation of the original Ritz. The project was to restore the glass dome of the Palm Court, which had not been seen for 80 years. Then, in October, a little north of the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, in Salamanca, the Villa Magna reopened. Launched in 1972, this modernist granite hotel has reemerged as Rosewood Villa Magna, dramatically transformed into a temple of mid-century glamour. The arrival of charismatic Spanish chef Jesús Sánchez, known as the anchovy king, will add to the buzz. All of this is no small feat given the absolute blows suffered by Spain – and in particular Madrid, where local government resisted a second lockdown despite the region suffering the highest infection rates in Europe. The capital has had higher Covid-19 death rates per capita than London, Paris, Rome or Berlin.
But the numbers are finally going in the right direction and business is booming. Even multi-billionaire Hugh Grosvenor, 7th Duke of Westminster, who owns more land in the UK than the Queen, is currently investing in four major residential developments in Madrid’s major Chamberí and Salamanca districts.
Certainly, for those attending Europe’s first major social wedding days after restrictions were lifted in Madrid last May, it was business as usual. Spain’s aristocratic elite gathered for the event, held in the gardens of Liria Palace in central Madrid, official residence of the House of Alba, to witness the late grandson the Duchess of Alba, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart y Solís, the Count of Osorno, to marry real heiress Belén Corsini, joining two of the most powerful families in Spain. A taste of more glories to come in the Spanish capital.
The day I interview Schrager, I learn that the opening date has been slightly pushed back. I ask him what the heist is. Hint: He’s famous for his keen eye for detail, with Anna Wintour once calling him a “perfectionist and control freak” (as a compliment).
“We need a few more weeks until he passes the Schrager test. It’s not done until it’s 100% done. It’s like opening a play before until the last act is over. I’m not doing this,” he said, sounding more GoodFellas than ever.